Kim Richards Says She Started Drinking in Her Mid-20s To Deal With Second Divorce

Kim Richards was never an underage drinker, and even when she turned 21 she didn’t hit the bars like a lot of newly legal adults do. In an interview with People, the 51-year-old Real Housewives of Beverly Hills alum says she didn’t even have her first “real” drink until she was 24 years old.

Richards has been vocal about her struggle with alcoholism, which has played out during her six-season stint on the Bravo reality show. In a highly publicized setback, Kim was even arrested for public intoxication last year at a posh hotel in Beverly Hills. But the former child star says she was a late bloomer when it came to alcohol, and her steady drinking didn’t start until after her second marriage ended in 1991.

“I had my first real drink at 24.”

While Kim admits she had sips of alcohol “every now and then” in her early 20s, she didn’t become a regular drinker until she split from second husband, oil company heir Gregg Davis. Davis, whose oil tycoon father, Marvin, was the inspiration for the primetime soap Dynasty, is the father of Kim’s two middle children, Whitney, 26, and Chad 24. Richards said the stress of her split from Davis was too much to handle.

“I was always disciplined and driven about my body and what I put into it. But the pressure with the divorce and the custody battle, it got to me.”

In the interview, Richards said that what started out as a nightly glass of wine soon turned into more, and she began to notice that she was drinking a lot, and that’s when her alcohol issue really started.

Still, Kim Richards was good at keeping her alcoholism a secret from her fans. It wasn’t until the final episode of the first season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills that Kim’s secret was outed—by her sister Kyle. During a nasty argument in a limousine, Kyle Richards screamed that Kim was an alcoholic, telling her sister, “I said it, now everybody knows!”

In an interview with Ryan Seacrest’s KIIS FM radio show, Kyle later said she regretted exposing Kim’s drinking problem while they were filming the Bravo reality show.

“I regret everything about that night. It was terrible. Both of us regret the things that we did and we said. I wish I could take it back. There was a lot of stuff happening off-camera. The audience doesn’t see everything. I think it came to a boiling point that night, and we just kind of snapped.”

Kim Richards’ struggles with alcoholism were documented on subsequent seasons of RHOBH, but everything came to a head last year. A few months after her arrest at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Kim was arrested for shoplifting at Target last summer. Richards later told Entertainment Tonight that she looked at rehab as an escape from the stress in her life. At the time, Kim was dealing with the aftermath of her beloved pitbull’s attack on her niece, and the lung cancer battle of her ex-husband Monty Brinson.

“I love sobriety. I’ve always loved sobriety, and relapsing was very hard for me. It was not easy. I have to say, don’t take this wrong, but I really wanted to go to treatment because I needed a break from what I was going through at home…I don’t want anybody to take this wrong, but I truly needed a break from hospitals, family, the pressure. I needed to go away.”

In her new People interview, Kim Richards says she’s now living a sober life and is “in a very good place.” She’s also ready to move on from the past.

“I’m sorry for people I’ve let down. But my concern is to myself and to my children, first and foremost. I don’t beat myself up because it makes it worse. I have to own it and accept it and move on.”

Take a look at the video below to see Kim Richards talking about her sobriety struggles.

[Photo By Rachel Murray/Getty Images]