Why Kiefer Sutherland Decided Not to Give Up Alcohol

"I was never the guy ... to go drown my sorrows," Sutherland tells PEOPLE

Photo: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

In Kiefer Sutherland’s new song “Can’t Stay Away,” from his debut album Down in a Hole, the actor–turned–musician sings about a tumultuous relationship that has brought him both pleasure and pain. But counter to many people’s first impressions, he’s not referring to a woman who broke his heart — he’s talking about alcohol.

During a recent episode of The Jess Cagle Interview, the Designated Survivor star opened up about his complicated relationship with drinking and why he ultimately chose not to give it up.
“I was never the guy, if something was wrong in my life or something wasn’t right, I didn’t go drown my sorrows,” said Sutherland, 49. “One of the things I love to do is go out with my friends and tell stories and have a bunch of drinks. That’s true. Having said that, I can also look back on my life and tell you very squarely that the only bad things that have ever happened to me in my life have been because I like to go to bars and have drinks with my friends. I would be lying if I told you that there weren’t moments where I felt I let it get away from me. So it’s kind of been a push and pull through my life.”

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Asked about the notion of quitting alcohol, Sutherland said he “enjoy[s] the times too much, and the memories.” He added, “I have, at times, for stretches of time. But at some point, I’ve made a decision, right or wrong, for myself that I would rather work really hard so I could still have some of those times. Than to just simply stop. That’s a choice I’ve made and I live with that choice.”

Oliver Gettell

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