Chris Bauer reveals past struggle with alcohol and drug addiction in an interview with PEOPLE. The Sheriff Andy Bellefleur depicter on HBO's "True Blood", who has been sober for seven years, tells the magazine of his 10-year addiction, "It was a slow-motion catastrophe. I wasn't just out of control, I was 100 percent off my path."
Bauer's alcohol problems started shortly after he tried his first drink at the age of 14. "I think I abused it from the beginning," he says. "The idea of taking one drink for me was on par with aliens and Bigfoot. It was always more than one. I drank to change how I felt inside, and that's basically a one-way ride to oblivion."
In addition to alcohol, he abused drugs. "Think of me as the person at the salad bar. I took whatever there was to offer," says the actor, who admits that he used cocaine and marijuana. "It was never hard, whether it was at a dinner party, a nightclub or a premiere, to find somebody to share their drugs with me."
In 2007, Bauer started to realize that his alcohol and drug abuse affected his life. "I deluded myself for the longest time. Like, if I was making them breakfast, how could I possibly have a problem? But I realize that just because I put bacon and eggs on their plates doesn't mean they were getting what they deserved from me," he says, referring to his two children Beau and Mercy.
His wife Laura then threatened to leave with the kids if he did not seek help. "She was really afraid for me. And she was in a lot of pain because of how inconsiderate I was. She said she was going to take the kids and leave, that she couldn't stay in the situation until I changed things," Bauer shared.
"I got sober right after I shot the pilot for 'True Blood'. Now that it's winding down, I'm in touch with how much my life has changed from getting my act together," the 47-year-old actor reveals, adding that he physically got better after he stopped drinking. "I have been incredibly blessed. And now I wake up in the morning and smile before I even have a chance to think."