Jane Lynch Opens Up About Her 2017 Relapse and Why She Was Given 'One More Chance' to Get Sober

"I was tied to this thing again, to some hope of what [drinking] was going to do for me, and the rest of the day didn’t matter," Lynch said

Jane Lynch
Jane Lynch. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Jane Lynch is getting candid about her journey to sobriety and the setbacks she faced along the way.

The former Glee actress recently opened up about her battle with alcoholism in an interview with The Guardian, revealing that she relapsed in 2017 after several years of sobriety.

"I went back into denial, after all those years of sobriety and self-knowledge," she told the outlet. "I fooled myself – I woke up one day and went: 'I'm back.'"

Lynch, 61, explained that she began drinking as a teen, and by her 30s, was a functioning alcoholic who drank almost every single day.

"The first time you [have a drink], it's like: 'Ah, I found it. I feel happy in my body, this feeling of bliss. No one can say anything to me that would make me upset or feel badly about myself right now,'" she recalled. "And then maybe the next time you drink, you get it again."

"Before you know it, it's not doing it for you. So for the most part, when I was in the throes of addiction, it wasn't working," she noted.

Jane Lynch
Jane Lynch. Amy Sussman/Getty

As the years went on, she said her alcohol dependency got worse, with Lynch often finding herself still at the bar at 7 a.m. following a night out. The actress, who was working in theater at the time, would also frequently discover vomit in her bathroom, but had no idea as to how it got there.

"You end up chasing [that feeling]," she said. "And then if you're not chasing that, what are you doing? Who are you? You have to really face this emptiness."

It wasn't until one day that Lynch suddenly experienced a "magical lifting of my compulsion to drink" and decided to get sober. She followed through with her intentions by joining Alcoholics Anonymous, which she said she "loved."

"It was very much a gift; it was almost like I was struck sober," she told The Guardian.

However, just as quickly as her sobriety started, it soon came to an end in 2017 — a few years after her divorce from first wife, Lara Embry — when Lynch decided to have a glass of wine with dinner.

"I became a connoisseur of wine in a way that only an alcoholic can... It took about three years," she explained. "I'm telling people I'm drinking one glass of wine a night, and I'm drinking five."

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By this point, Lynch's career had taken off after she played the over-the-top cheerleading coach, Sue Sylvester, on Glee. She was also portraying the role of Madeline Starkey on CBS' The Good Fight.

"I think [it was] boredom. I think I got to a point where nothing was doing it for me anymore," she explained of her choice to break her sobriety, adding that this time around, she wouldn't let herself drink until 5 p.m. "I was tied to this thing again, to some hope of what it was going to do for me, and the rest of the day didn't matter. The only part of the day that really mattered was five o'clock."

Six months later, Lynch had another awakening — in part due to a reflection about everything she had accomplished during her period of sobriety.

"[It was] like the sober fairy said, 'OK, I'm giving you one more chance.' And it was over," she said. "Five o'clock would come and I didn't notice it."

Since getting sober, Lynch has made the most of her second chance.

The actress has taken on the role of Sophie Lennon on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which is set to premiere its fourth season this week), nabbed a hosting gig on NBC's revival of The Weakest Link, and voiced the character Ole Golley in Apple TV+'s animated series Harriet the Spy.

Her love life has also been on a personal high, after recently getting married to Jennifer Cheyne, whom Lynch dated for a couple of years in the early 2000s and reconnected with a decade later.

Speaking to PEOPLE in September 2020, Lynch said Cheyne "makes me thankful all day long." Added the actress of her partner, "She's really smart. We work so well and we're really grateful that we found each other."

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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