On the evening of September 9, 2017, Robert Pattinson made a guest appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and the conversation quickly turned to his struggle with addiction. The actor spoke candidly about his past and current addictions, detailing how he first became involved in the habit of drinking alcohol, which eventually led to a full-blown addiction. The star also opened up about his use of recreational drugs, his struggles with depression, and why he hasn’t had a conventional family life. Watch the video below to learn more about one of the most interesting figures in contemporary culture.

From Drinking to Addiction

Robert Pattinson was born on December 5, 1986, in London, England. He started acting at a very early age and made his debut in 2005’s Dom Hemingway. In 2007, he portrayed the character of Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter film series. Since then, he has appeared in several big-name productions, such as the Avengers and the Twilight films. He currently lives in London with his dog. In the interview below, Pattinson talks about how he went from drinking to addiction, starting with beer and working his way up to harder drugs.

The Beginning

Pattinson admits to having been a drinker and a drug user from a young age, even though he didn’t realize it at the time. “I was a bit of a handful as a kid. I remember when I was about seven, my parents took me to a psychologist who tried to analyze my behavior. He asked, ‘Does he have too much self-confidence? Does he get angry quickly?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, yeah,'” Pattinson says with a laugh. “I did like climbing trees and rolling in the mud. I remember one of my friends once said that if he had to choose a superhero, he would want to be Wolverine, because he was really tough. That was me.”

Pattinson’s mother, Lynn, first noticed her son was drinking alcohol when he was six years old. At that time, she did her best to hide the drink from him, because she didn’t want her son to become an alcoholic. However, she eventually gave in and let him have a sip of wine with dinner. She was then alarmed to discover her son had begun sneaking sips when he was by himself. At age nine, she locked him in his room with no television or music to keep him occupied, which apparently worked.

The Turning Point

Pattinson had already begun to dabble in drugs by the time he reached puberty. He says he would usually experiment with different drugs, such as mushrooms and ecstasy, to see what they were like. “I would get drunk and steal my roommate’s ecstasy to try it. It was horrible,” he recalls. “It was like taking candy from a baby, basically. But I would just do it because I thought it was funny. I didn’t think it would hurt me.”

Pattinson claims he wasn’t addicted to alcohol or drugs at first. He only started caring about them when he began to get sick of trying new things. “I went through a bit of a midlife crisis around the same time that I started getting ill with addiction, I guess. I was in my early 20s and had been out of school for a while. I was just chilling, not doing anything. I had a couple of my own gigs going on, but I wasn’t really making much money,” he says. “I decided to go on a big spending spree. I bought a bunch of expensive jewelry and dresses, and I went to all the clubs in London looking for girls to hook up with. It was a bit pathetic, actually.”

Pattinson attributes his recent string of bad luck to the fact that he had started to care more about his appearance, which had led him to try and change his ways. “I remember being at a nightclub and seeing all these girls, all sorts of girls, dressed to kill. And I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I haven’t had a drink in six months. Maybe I should have a drink to celebrate,'” he says with a laugh. “And I did have a drink and walked towards the nightclub exit when I vomited all over myself. That was probably the turning point for me. I was like, ‘All right, maybe I do need to stop.'”

Hitting Rock Bottom

Pattinson claims he drank himself to death. He first got drunk at a young age and by the time he reached adulthood, he was already an alcoholic. “If you ask any of my friends or family, they’ll tell you that I was always very, very fond of alcohol. It’s a disease. It’s not a character flaw,” he says. “I have lots of flaws, but I don’t think alcoholism is one of them. I have a couple of close friends who suffer from alcoholism, and it’s a real shame. It can be such a lonely, isolated experience. There’s nothing worse than trying to get help and not being able to. That was my experience. I kept trying and trying to quit, but I couldn’t.”

Pattinson decided to get clean at the end of 2015 and has been trying to stay sober ever since. According to him, it wasn’t easy and he still has his struggles. At first, he thought he would try and stay sober by himself, but eventually he realized he needed help. He reached out to his sponsor, who introduced him to a 12-step program, and he has been attending meetings ever since.

Addiction Helped Him Deal With Depression

Pattinson claims his drug abuse didn’t just end with alcohol and marijuana. He experimented with harder drugs, such as cocaine and ecstasy, but later discovered he was allergic to them. Still, he admits to having used them a couple of times. “I did try coke twice, but it made me sick both times. I was always more of an alcoholic than a drug addict, but I guess the disease had some strange quirks. I never felt great after doing cocaine, but I didn’t feel awful, either,” he says. “I never felt like I reached my full potential as an actor. If I had tried it more, I would have been able to give myself more fully to my craft. It would have been good for me.”

Pattinson’s cocaine use eventually led to his contracting HIV, which he learned he was positive for in 2016. He first got tested for HIV during the shooting of the Avengers movie in 2015. At the time, he thought it was just a routine test, but he later found out it was because he had used cocaine previously. He was devastated and scared, but then decided to face his illness head on and begin treatment. “I figured if I was going to die, I might as well get on with it. Since I’ve been on medication, it’s not been as hard to deal with as I’d thought it would be. It still hurts like hell sometimes, but it’s something I have to live with. It’s not easy, but at least I’m not sick any more.”

His Family Life

While Pattinson was in treatment for his HIV, he decided to forgo any relationship with a woman and focus on his recovery. However, he did manage to find love and began a relationship with musician Taylor Swift. The two became engaged in April 2018, but have yet to set a wedding date. In the meantime, they are focusing on their newly formed partnership and trying to stay positive.

As for his family life, Pattinson says he doesn’t have many other options, given his busy acting schedule. “I’ve been around the block a few times and know what most people go through in life. It’s not a fantasy,” he says. “I’ve got a big family and lots of friends, and they’re all really supportive of what I’m doing. At the end of the day, there’s not a whole lot more I can do.”

In addition to discussing his alcohol and drug addiction, Pattinson also opened up about his experience with depression. He spoke openly about his desire to commit suicide and how he had attempted it more than once. “I have never felt better than I have since I have been on meds. I was completely unable to function before, and I was in a constant state of depression,” he said. “I tried to kill myself when I was seventeen and again when I was nineteen, but I had just turned twenty-one and didn’t want to damage my prospects as an actor. I’m not trying to be an extreme example, but I guess you could say I did it to get attention. I’m not proud of that.”