Demi Moore's Addiction Struggles Had A Major Impact On Rumer Willis

This article contains mention of substance abuse and addiction.

Actor Demi Moore had a rough go of things after splitting from her ex-husband, Ashton Kutcher, a relationship that she referred to as a kind of addiction. "The addiction and the co-dependency ... like my addiction to Ashton — that was probably almost more devastating because it took me away emotionally," Moore told hosts Jada Pinkett-Smith and Willow Smith on a 2019 episode of "Red Table Talk." Although substance abuse runs in Moore's family and alcoholism wasn't new to the Emmy nominee, it deeply affected her three daughters. "It was like the sun went down, like a monster came," Moore's youngest daughter Tallulah Willis recalled. "I remember, there's just the anxiety that would come up in my body when I could sense [Moore's] eyes shutting a little bit more ... or she would be a lot more affectionate with me if she wasn't sober."

Moore's substance abuse struggles were such that all three of her girls cut ties with their mom for several years, according to Perez Hilton. Around this time, she shared in her memoir, "Inside Out," that she was struggling emotionally after she'd suffered a miscarriage with then-husband Kutcher and found herself bending over backward to try and please him. As noted by E! News, she wrote in her memoir that the breaking point came in 2012 when the star had a seizure after smoking synthetic cannabis and inhaling nitrous at a party. Moore's oldest daughter, Rumer Willis, was by her side and called for help. The experience was traumatic for Rumer and negatively impacted her relationship with Moore.

Rumer Willis called Demi's behavior 'triggering'

For Rumer Willis, the moment she saw Demi Moore lying semiconscious on the floor was a turning point. "I was ... panicking because ... either my mom is gonna die, and I'm not gonna be in the room, and I'm gonna feel the guilt of that for the rest of my life, or I'm gonna be there and see this image of my mom that I will never get out of my head," she revealed during her "Red Table Talk" appearance. 

Moore recovered, but the trauma of seeing her mother in that condition triggered Willis' own unhealthy habits. "I literally started getting anxiety attacks about how bad I was gonna feel the next day. So I would be drunk and start hyperventilating and freak out," she added. As she further explained on "Red Table Talk," Willis resented Moore for making her feel unworthy. "I wanted her to ... prove to me that I'm important enough for you to get sober," the actor said. Eventually, she was able to find support through AI-Anon, a safe space for family members of alcoholics.

Currently, Willis has been sober for over six years. Now, in a healthier space, she's able to reflect on her past behavior. "90% of the time, if we look at someone else and see something that feels triggering, it is usually triggering because it is something we don't like about ourselves," Willis said on "Addiction Talk," referencing why her mother's relapse was the catalyst for her own alcoholism.

Rumer Willis encourages others in their sobriety journey

Though Demi Moore's 2012 relapse was one of the lowest moments of her life — causing all three of her daughters to distance themselves from her — today, Rumer Willis and her sisters have a good relationship with their mom. "The most amazing thing about this [recovery] journey for us as a family is that in a lot of ways it has allowed for a different level and depth of communication that I don't know we would have had otherwise," Willis revealed on her on "Addiction Talk" appearance. She added, "The place we are all at together, with each other, is the best place we have ever been." In the same interview, the actor took responsibility for her addiction, explaining that she wasn't a victim of her choices.

Willis often posts sobriety updates on Instagram, encouraging others in their recovery journeys. "Sending love to Baby Rue today ... Celebrating 6 years [sober] Woohoo," she captioned a 2022 Instagram post. The year prior, Willis shared in a since-deleted Instagram post commemorating four years of sobriety. "For anyone and everyone who is struggling or has a desire to get sober know that it is not a one size fits all process but it's one day at a time. I don't have all the answers, I know what has worked for me but always here to lend support or just listen," the "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" actor wrote.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).