You move to Los Angeles as a teenager in hopes of becoming an actor/model/director/what-have-you. We see it in movies, follow it in TV shows, read it in books, and even hear our fellow small-town friends manifest it. It’s the pinnacle dream.
That dream actually came true for former Playboy model Jessica Landon. She moved to LA at 19 years old with dreams of becoming an actress. What makes her story different is that, unlike the majority of hopeful young adults that pour into Southern California with the same dream, Jessica’s dreams came true.
And so did her nightmares.
Living in Hiding: Self-Medicating with Alcohol
Jessica Landon saw her Hollywood dreams come to life when she moved to Los Angeles at age 19. She appeared on Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, and NBC. She even plunged into modeling with a photoshoot for Playboy.
From the outside, she looked like a beautiful, shining success story. But she was living in a fog of numbness on the inside.
Jessica was sexually assaulted by a babysitter at just 5 years old. Like so many others who’ve experienced the complete pain, shock, and shame of assault, Jessica turned to substances to numb the devastation. The former Playboy model reveals that she was self-medicating with alcohol and would drink 24/7. By age 26, Jessica was carrying a vodka-filled water bottle with her everywhere she went.
How Trauma Fuels Addiction
Everyone will experience some sort of trauma in their life. The traumatic situation will cause a fight-or-flight response in your mind to protect you from harm. Afterwards, it’s completely natural to have residual fear symptoms. Most people recover naturally from those symptoms. Those who do not recover experience PTSD. People who are struggling with PTSD experience feelings of fear, pain, and stress even when they are no longer in danger. Their brain physiology has changed to the point where their survival instincts are aligned to that hostile environment.
Trauma and PTSD do not just go away and the symptoms can be unbearable. Add that to the stigma that surrounds mental illness and the skepticism that sexual assault victims are met with and you might start to understand why many trauma survivors resort to self-medicating with alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism.
50 to 66% of people who suffer from PTSD also struggle with addiction.
Living? Or Merely Surviving?
Jessica Landon’s struggle with alcoholism landed her in nine treatment centers. She was able to stay sober for nine months before relapsing in 2013.
After her relapse, the actress was living in a stranger’s attic. Her diet consisted solely of vodka. Then a staircase accident left her with a brain hemorrhage. She miraculously recovered from the hemorrhage surgery but relapsed a couple months later.
From there, she spent a month on a stranger’s floor living off of vodka. She was so weak and atrophied that she couldn’t even take herself to the bathroom. Laying in her own urine, her skin began to rot. She knew she would die. After a final call for help, Jessica was admitted to the hospital.
She had a BAC of .533, a blood staff infection, conjunctivitis, only weighed 78 pounds, and every organ in her body was failing.
Since hitting her rock bottom, Jessica Landon has been sober for over 5 years. She works as a recovery coach and focuses on treating struggling addicts with compassion.
“It has taken brutal honesty, deep introspection and forgiveness of myself to build the life of recovery that I have today.” — Jessica Landon