Lucy Hale Breaks Down in Tears Talking About Going to a 'Dark Place' in Sobriety Journey

The 'Pretty Little Liars' star is ready to talk about her journey to sobriety.

Lucy Hale is ready to talk about her journey to sobriety. The 33-year-old actress just celebrated one year of sobriety, which she said has been a "mostly private" journey. 

Hale took to Instagram on Valentine’s Day to talk about the importance of "self-love" and revealed that she recently celebrated 12 months of sobriety -- which she commemorated with a special cake.

"Bear with me, this is an alternative Valentine’s Day post," Hale wrote, alongside the photo of a sprinkle-covered cake with the words "1 Year!" written in icing. "This is a post about self-love and about the greatest thing I’ve ever done."

Hale explained, "On January 2, 2023, I celebrated one year of sobriety."

Now, the Pretty Little Liars star is opening up to Steven Bartlett on The Diary Of A CEO podcast: "I have never talked publicly about being sober -- I have a little over a year sobriety. I have been working on getting sober since I was 20; I’m 33. It took time. It took patience with myself," Hale said.

She goes on to say that she felt her "truest self" when she was drinking and described it as a "self-destructive" coping mechanism. "I just held on to that belief that real Lucy came out when she was drinking. It also quieted my mind… my mind just doesn’t shut off and it’s exhausting. I was [a] textbook binge drinker, blackout, wouldn’t remember what I did or what I said, which is scary."

"From my very first experience drinking at age 14 up until a year ago, I’ve had a problem. I’ve never had a period of my life where I was a normal moderate drinker. It was always, 'Let's go'. I was willing to go to this crazy dark place every time. Of course, I tried to be a moderate drinker, just having two. I have an allergy to alcohol. I cannot drink. I view it as an allergy; my brain doesn’t work the same way as someone who can just have a glass of wine. It always wants more. It’s craving that feeling."

The actress said she had many things happen to her that she’d thought would have stopped her from drinking, but alcohol was her "solution."

"One of my best friends died of alcoholism and that still didn’t make me want to get sober. Alcohol isn’t the problem – the problem is this feeling inside of me. I tried to change for boyfriends, I tried to change for my mom, I tried to change for my career, I tried to change for vain reasons – 'I’ll look younger and look skinner… I’ll stop drinking for that.' None of that s**t works." 

This isn't the first time that Hale has spoken out about quitting drinking. In 2017, the actress spoke with online style publication Byrdie, ahead of the Pretty Little Liars series finale, about how she planned to give up alcohol and partying after the show came to an end.

"PLL was a great chapter of my life, but it’s very exciting to start over," Hale admitted at the time. "Becoming a part of this popular show … everyone just says yes to you, so you get away with a lot, and then you make mistakes."

In the podcast, Hale also discusses her experience of living with an eating disorder from the age of 13. “I was eating so little that it was shocking. It all rooted back to, ‘I don’t feel enough.' It slowly grew and grew until I could not enjoy life, I could not have a conversation, I could not focus on anything. It’s a miracle that I even started working… because it was a constant loop.”

Hale admits she is in a better place now, "But I love myself enough now to nourish my body and it’s so sad to think that I hated myself so much that I couldn’t even give it basic needs like food. That is so tragic. Now I can look back and see photos and think, 'Oh, my God, I wasn’t seeing reality.' You just create this narrative in your head which is scary and dark and it ultimately wasn’t about the way I looked, it was about so much more, which is I had no self-worth – incredibly low self-worth. I always knew it wasn’t normal behavior, I knew my hair shouldn’t be falling out and I knew I shouldn’t be able to see every bone in my body but you get addicted to this feeling of controlling your own body."

Hale told Bartlett a former Italian boyfriend "loved and appreciated" food, which helped her have a better relationship with it, but revealed her disorder “flared up” after starring in Pretty Little Liars

"I book a show called Pretty Little Liars and so I’m like, 'We’ve got to be pretty and we’ve got to be little.'"

"I thought I had overcome it but then it became a thing of control and then ultimately it wasn’t about wanting to be pretty or little, it was about, 'This is scary.' My life has completely shifted overnight. Millions of people are seeing my face. Instagram had just started. My first post was me in season one of Pretty Little Liars."

"It was like my life was under a magnifying glass. I felt out of control. 'Uh oh, I guess I’ve got to control the way I look again and then I’ll be enough and then people will like me.' I didn’t feel worthy of the things I had in my life. I did not feel worthy of the success, career or the people in my life."

Hale emotionally revealed that she had to personally "want to get sober" for the choice to stick on Jan. 2, 2022. "I said, 'I deserve more out of this life. I have to try it a different way,'" she recalled, explaining her lowest moment came after "dozens" of "emotional rock bottoms … at the depths of hell."

The actress credited herself with "always pull[ing]" herself out of hard times and "sling-shott[ing]" herself the other way.