Lena Dunham admits addiction, reveals she is 6 months sober

Lena Dunham is opening up about another health struggle — this one with prescription drug addiction and sobriety.

On the October 29 episode of Dax Shephard’s podcast, Armchair Expert, the actress revealed that she had been misusing the anti-anxiety prescription drug Klonopin. “I’ve been sober for six months,” the 32-year-old Girls creator shared.

After Shepard — who is open about his own sobriety — guessed that, as someone who has talked about suffering from anxiety, Dunham may have been using benzodiazepines (commonly referred to as benzos), the actress concurred. “You’ve hit the nail on the head,” she said. “My particular passion was Klonopin.”

Dunham went on to detail how her panic attacks had been interfering with her life and how benzos were initially a great tool for her. “Suddenly you can operate in the world,” she said, adding that Klonopin made her “feel like the person I was supposed to be.”

The New York City native catapulted to fame with the 2012 release of her Golden Globe-winning HBO series. As an outspoken feminist and body image advocate, she courted plenty of controversy and frequently came under public attack.

“When I was having crazy anxiety and having to show up to things that I didn’t feel equipped to show up for, I was like, ‘There’s no reason for me to ever suffer,’” she continued on Shepard’s podcast. Also, she said, “I know I need to do it, and when I take a Klonopin, I can do it.” She also shared that Klonopin made her “feel like the person I was supposed to be.”

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Lena Dunham through the years
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Lena Dunham through the years
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 01: Actress Lena Dunham attends TimesTalks: A Final Farewell to the Cast of HBO's 'Girls' at Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts on February 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: Actress Lena Dunham attends the the New York premiere of the sixth and final season of 'Girls' at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on February 2, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Zak Photography/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: (L-R) Actresses Allison Williams, Zosia Mamet, Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke attend the the New York premiere of the sixth and final season of 'Girls' at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on February 2, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 07: Actress Lena Dunham is seen on December 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actress Lena Dunham arrives at Glamour Women of the Year 2016 at NeueHouse Hollywood on November 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 07: Lena Dunham leaves Lourde's birthday party at ZZ� Clam Bar on November 7, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Actress Lena Dunham poses backstage during Glamour Women Of The Year 2016 LIVE Summit at NeueHouse Hollywood on November 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 01: Honoree Laurie Simmons, daughter Lena Dunham and Tip Dunham attend ICP's luncheon honoring Laurie Simmons on November 1, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for ICP)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 27: Jennifer Konner and Lena Dunham attend 12th Annual New York Television Festival - Creative Keynote: A Conversation with 'Girls' at SVA Theater on October 27, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Jenni Konner, Lena Dunham, and Jessica Grose attend Hearst MagFront 2016 at Hearst Tower on October 25, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Hearst)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Lena Dunham (L) and Abbi Jacobson pose onstage before discussing Abbi Jacobson's book 'Carry This Book' at Symphony Space on October 25, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 0434 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actress Lena Dunham during an interview on October 11, 2016 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 24: Actress Lena Dunham is seen walking in Soho on October 24, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: Lena Dunham discusses Let Girls Learn at The American Magazine Media Conference at Grand Hyatt New York on February 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 24: Actress Lena Dunham speaks from the podium at the Lena Dunham and Planned Parenthood Host Sex, Politics & Film Cocktail Reception at The Spur on January 24, 2016 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Honoree Lena Dunham speaks onstage at Variety's Power of Women New York presented by Lifetime at Cipriani 42nd Street on April 24, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for Variety)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 13: Actress Lena Dunham attends ELLE's Annual Women in Television Celebration on January 13, 2015 at Sunset Tower in West Hollywood, California. Presented by Hearts on Fire and Olay. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for ELLE)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: Actress Lena Dunham attends HBO's post Golden Globe Awards party at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: Actress/director Lena Dunham (L) and singer/songwriter Taylor Swift attend HBO's Official Golden Globe Awards After Party at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 05: Lena Dunham attends the 'Girls' season four premiere at American Museum of Natural History on January 5, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 02: Actress/Author Lena Dunham reads from her book, 'Not That Kind of Girl' during the 2014 Ally Coalition's Talent Show at New World Stages on December 2, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 11: Actress / Director Lena Dunham attends Pen Center USA's 24th Annual Literary Awards Festival at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on November 11, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 29: Lena Dunham meets fans and signs copies of her book 'Not That Kind Of Girl' at Waterstones, Piccadilly on October 29, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14: Actress Lena Dunham signs copies of 'Not That Kind Of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's 'Learned.' at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on October 14, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 30: Television personality Robin Roberts (L) and actress Lena Dunham tape an interview at 'Good Morning America' at the ABC Times Square Studios on September 30, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Actress Lena Dunham arrives at the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUGUST 23: Actress Lena Dunham attends Variety and Women in Film Emmy Nominee Celebration powered by Samsung Galaxy on August 23, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Variety)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: [EDITOR'S NOTE: Image has been digitally processed] Lena Dunham attends the 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 23: Director Lena Dunham on the set of 'Girls' on April 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Lena Dunham filming 'Girls' on May 1, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Sands/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 07: Lena Dunham attends the 2014 Point Honors New York gala at New York Public Library on April 7, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Nomi Ellenson/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 18: Lena Dunham visits 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' at Rockefeller Center on March 18, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/NBC/Getty Images for 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon')
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 27: Actress Lena Dunham attends the Fox Searchlight Pictures' 'Dom Hemingway' screening hosted by The Cinema Society And Links Of London on March 27, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 13: Actress Lena Dunham attends an evening with 'Girls' at Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre on March 13, 2014 in North Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 13: Writer/director Lena Dunham poses with Best Actress in a TV Comedy Award in the press room during the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 13, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 09: Lena Dunham attends the premiere of 'Girls' season 2 hosted by HBO at NYU Skirball Center on January 9, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
Cast member Lena Dunham arrives at the premiere of Universal's 'This Is 40,' December 12, 2012 at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 12: Writer/Director/Actress Lena Dunham attends 'Girls' Greenroom Photo Op during the 2012 SXSW Music, Film + Interactive Festival at Paramount Theatre on March 12, 2012 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for SXSW)
SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Actress/filmmaker Lena Dunham, winner of Best First Screenplay for 'Tiny Furniture,' accepts award onstage during the 2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards at Santa Monica Beach on February 26, 2011 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
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She doesn’t feel benzo use is stigmatized in Hollywood. “The benzo thing is crazy because, firstly, let’s just say it is the most normalized — especially in our industry — everyone’s got a f–ing pill in their purse, a thing in their bag,” the actress and writer explained. “I remember my mom saying to me, and this is not me blaming her, when I was a kid, ‘There’s no reason to ever suffer’… and she’s right. You don’t need to be a hero about things. But I really took that to heart.”

Dunham was first prescribed the drug to treat her anxiety disorder. “I was diagnosed with pretty serious PTSD. I have a few sexual traumas in my past, and then I had all these surgeries, and then I had my hysterectomy after a period of really extreme pain,” she said. “It stopped feeling like I had panic attacks and it started feeling like I was a living panic attack.”

Eventually, however, the actress began taking more and more pills. “It stopped being ‘I take one when I fly,’ to ‘I take one when I’m awake.’” Medical professionals, she explained, were more than willing to prescribe the drug. “I didn’t have any trouble getting a doctor to tell me, ‘No you have serious anxiety issues, you should be taking this. This is how you should be existing,’” she said.

See Lena and ex Jack Antonoff:

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Lena Dunham & Jack Antonoff
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Lena Dunham & Jack Antonoff
Lena Dunham from the HBO series "Girls" and Jack Antonoff arrive at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California August 25, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES -Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)(EMMYS-ARRIVALS)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01: (L-R) Lena Dunham and Jack Antonoff attend The Ally Coalition & Above Average's 2015 Talent Show at New World Stages on December 1, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Rommel Demano/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14: Lena Dunham and Jack Antonoff are seen at LAX on October 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by GVK/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 04: Actress Lena Dunham and musician Jack Antonoff arrive at The Rape Foundation's Annual Brunch at Greenacres, The Private Estate of Ron Burkle on October 4, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 28: Musician Jack Antonoff and Lena Dunham perform at AUDIBLE IMPACT: Music & Activism at on August 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28: Lena Dunham and Jack Antonoff seen on May 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by MPI67/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 11: (L-R) Actress Lena Dunham, musician Jack Antonoff, actress Jemima Kirke attend HBO's Official Golden Globe Awards After Party at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 05: Lena Dunham and Jack Antonoff attend the 'Girls' season four series premiere after party at The Museum of Natural History on January 5, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31: Jack Antonoff, Lena Dunham and Natalie Maines attend 'Howard Stern's Birthday Bash' presented by SiriusXM, produced by Howard Stern Productions at Hammerstein Ballroom on January 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for SiriusXM)
REPEATING TO ADD NAME OF MAN IN PHOTO - Lena Dunham from the HBO series "Girls" and Jack Antonoff arrive at the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California August 25, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES -Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)(EMMYS-ARRIVALS)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 15: Lena Dunham and Jack Antonoff attend the UK premiere of 'Girls: Season 3' at Cineworld Haymarket on January 15, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Fred Duval/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 12: Actress/writer Lena Dunham (L) and musician Jack Antonoff with Moet & Chandon At The 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 12, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moet & Chandon)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 13: Actress Lena Dunham (L) and musician Jack Antonoff attend HBO's Official Golden Globe Awards After Party held at Circa 55 Restaurant at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 13, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
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Looking back, she noted, “there were a solid three years where I was, to put it lightly, misusing benzos, even though it was all quote unquote doctor prescribed.” And breaking the addiction was more difficult than she thought it would be. “Nobody I know who is prescribed these medications is told, ‘By the way, when you try and get off this, it’s going to be like the most hellacious acid trip you’ve ever had where you’re f–ing clutching the walls, and the hair is blowing off your head and you can’t believe you found yourself in this situation,’” she said. “Now the literal smell of the inside of pill bottles makes me want to throw up.”

And though she said she doesn’t blame herself for the things that happened to her that caused her anxiety, she does take responsibility for her actions while abusing the drugs. “I do see the way that the way I medicated myself negatively impacted people around me and decimated my decision-making and hurt my creativity,” she admitted, “and so I just feel, like, literally on-my-knees grateful every single day.”

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