June 07, 2018 01:46 PM

Whenever David Cassidy would speak to family and friends about his struggle for sobriety, he would talk about how his 2014 trip to rehab had changed his life. Publicly, he would opt for non-alcoholic drinks.

But the Partridge Family star was hiding a secret. Just two months before he died of organ failure on Nov. 21, 2017, at the age of 67, Cassidy acknowledged that he wasn’t clean and sober.

While filming a documentary for A&E, he called the producers to confess. “I have a liver disease,” Cassidy explained to A&E producer Saralena Weinfield in a recorded conversation. “There is no sign of me having dementia at this stage of my life. It was complete alcohol poisoning.”

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As it turns out, Cassidy had been lying to everyone about his alcoholism. He had never stopped drinking and was blaming his behavior on dementia, which had plagued his late mother.

Cassidy then followed up with a shocking confession. “The fact is that I lied about my drinking,” he said. “I did this to myself to cover up the sadness and the emptiness.”

  • For more on David Cassidy’s final weeks, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday

Not everyone was fooled by his dementia claims. In a 2017 appearance on Dr. Phil, Cassidy tried to explain a time that he had fallen offstage during a show. McGraw wasn’t buying Cassidy’s explanation. “You’ve had problems with alcohol across time,” he told Cassidy. “Some of the fans said they saw you down a glass of wine in one big drink before the show.”

As it turned out, Cassidy was still abusing alcohol until the last months of his life, an admission that is devastating to Cassidy’s family, including his kids Katie, 31, and Beau, 27, who assumed he was living a clean and sober life.

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RELATED VIDEO: The Partridge Family‘s David Cassidy Dies at 67

Not everyone is Cassidy’s circle is shocked that the actor and singer would lie about his behavior.

“Part of alcoholism is lying,” says Partridge costar Danny Bonaduce. “When you’re an addict, you know you can’t be honest with people. You say what you want them to hear. I can’t be mad at David for that, but it’s still a tragedy.”

David Cassidy: The Last Session airs June 11 at 9 p.m. on A&E. 

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