Prince Harry talks ‘numbing pain via substance abuse’ with Zak Williams

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Prince Harry has opened up about why so many people self medicate on various substance to cope with loss or trauma.

The Duke of Sussex, had a frank chat with Zak Williams, the son of late actor Robin Williams, during a special bonus episode of his Apple TV series The Me You Can't See.

Zak turned to alcohol after his father tragically took his own life in 2014.

Zak said: "After my dad died from suicide I found myself self medicating from alcohol and I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

"What helped me get out of that spiral was volunteering and a focus on service orientated activity."

Harry, who recently admitted to Oprah he turned to drink and drugs in his late 20s to cope with the loss of his mother Princess Diana, replied: "When the scale of the problem is so big, so many people are like how can we help.

"But so many people who have suffered find heeling in helping other people.

"Your father was a real hero of mine. He brought so much joy and entertainment to so many people."

Meghan Markle's husband continued: "I think we have a lot of shared experience when you talk about that.

  • Prince Harry admits 'holding on to grief' after loss of late mum Princess Diana

"When you see so many people grieving around the world grieving for someone they feel that they knew better than you did in a weird way because you are unable to grieve yourself.

"It's like 'how are you grieving more for someone who was my parent and I am unable to grieve myself?'".

Talking about using alcohol to numb the pain, Zak added: "I identify as being in recovery. I have been sober for almost four years and I am proud to be so.

"Really it was me drinking, things I used to mask my experience. That was all exasperated over time specifically with my dad dying by suicide."

Picking up on the point, Harry continued: "Me and Oprah have talked about this consistently, especially around substance abuse.

"It is trying to numb that feeling that you feel or trying to give yourself a different feeling to how you are actually feeling.

  • Prince Harry still haunted by sound of horses' hooves at mum Diana's funeral

"So to be able to say no to that and to focus so much on your own growth, leaning and healing and the process while helping others, full respect. I think it is remarkable."

Speaking in the initial Apple TV series, Harry said: "I was willing to drink, I was willing to take drugs, I was willing to try and do the things that made me feel less like I was feeling."

Keen to continue his mission to break the stigma around mental health, Harry continued in the latest episode: "Around the world my hope is that our series will continue to inspire people to take a more active and compassionate approach to healing, community and wellbeing. Because we truly are all in this together.

"I hope this series makes others feel able to talk about their mental health and their emotional well being.

"That is a really good thing to talk about because we have to create a more supportive culture where challenges don't have to live in the dark.

"Where vulnerability is encourages and where physical and mental health are treated equally as they are one."

The Me You Can't See is available to stream via AppleTV+ now

  • Prince Harry
  • Oprah Winfrey

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