Being a child star has its perks, but it’s the pitfalls that you hear about most often. For actor Jeremy Miller, who is best known for playing Ben Seaver on the cherished television series Growing Pains, it was alcoholism.
Miller, who started his acting career at age 5, had his first taste of alcohol when he was a young child, which he revealed on Oprah.com’s “Where Are They Now?” series on Jan. 30. “I began drinking at 4 years old,” he said. “My grandparents used to throw a lot of parties, and I would run around after the parties and finish off all the empty beers, so that was my first experience.” At age 12, Miller got drunk for the first time, and he was hooked. The 39-year-old actor says he never had an “off switch” to stop himself from drinking, which he kept secret for years.
Miller, middle, with his TV mom and dad, Joanna Kerns and Alan Thicke. (Photo: ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images)
Growing Pains ended in 1992 when Miller was 15. He did a few TV movies and commercials in the years that followed, but his drinking only got worse. “I think I realized that I had a real problem the morning I woke up and I could feel it in my body,” he shared with Oprah.com. “I could feel that I had to have a drink.”
He added, “There were times when I was so filled with self-loathing and self-hatred, and then combine that with the alcohol and the lack of judgment that provides — it’s very good thing I never owned a gun. Because I don’t know what would have happened, and that’s scary.”
Miller, right, with his TV siblings Kirk Cameron and Tracey Gold. (Photo: ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images)
After repeated blackouts brought on by alcohol use, Miller finally had enough. “I think rock bottom for me was waking up after having been completely blacked out, not having a clue what I did,” he said. “And my [then] fiancé sitting on the end of the bed yet again, pissed, and not knowing what she could say. She could have told me I got in the car and killed four people last night. I had no clue. That was my rock bottom.”
Jeremy Miller all grown up. (Photo: OWN/YouTube)
Miller has been with his wife Joanie for 11 years and is stepfather to her three sons. He credits their support, as well as counseling and treatment with the antialcoholism drug Naltrexone, according to People, with getting him sober. “My family was amazingly supportive,” he said. “They saw something in me that was worth fighting for.
Top photo: ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images