Wendy Williams Says She Was A ‘Functioning Addict,’ Opens Up About Battle With Cocaine

Ilya S. SavenokGetty Images for Vulture Festival

Daytime talk show host Wendy Williams is opening up about her dangerous cocaine habit and the years she spent as a ‘functioning addict.” The 54-year-old talked to ET about those years and how she finally moved past it all. She told them that it became a way of life during her years working in radio – a way of life that many knew about but did nothing to change.

“I was a functioning addict though. I report to work on time, and I’d walk in and all my co-workers, including my bosses, would know but since I would have my headphones on and walk in the studio and [they] wouldn’t fire me because I was making ratings.”

Hiding something as major as drug addiction takes lots of time and effort. Even things like getting out of bed in the morning takes lots of effort, so Williams says she had “several alarm clocks.” It was exhausting for Williams. She says she was forced to be very organized in order to not give anything away about her secret life. The talk show host described the fact that she overcame her habit “a miracle.”

Those were dark and painful times in her life, but she’s now using her experience to help others through The Hunter Foundation. Wendy, her husband Kevin Hunter, and her son Kevin Hunter, Jr. founded the non-profit that provides grants for drug prevention, education, and rehabilitation programs. Their “Be Here” campaign aims to help communities defeat drug addiction and substance abuse.

To celebrate her July 18 birthday this year, Essence reports that The Hunter Foundation partnered with Facing Addiction with NCAAD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) joined up to present the “Wendy Williams Hunter Birthday Give Back Gala” at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. She described the celebration in a statement.

“I wanted to use the biggest day of the year (my birthday) to encourage family and friends to give to this cause which will, in turn, help those in need. Instead of giving me gifts, I am encouraging everyone to donate.”

She told the magazine that because she has seen and experienced addiction up close and personal, she’s can’t sit back and do nothing to help others who are facing the battle. “Life is too short, and we need to come together to help others,” she said.

Included in the night’s celebration was the presentation of “The Survivor Award” to R&B legend Chaka Khan who beat her drug and alcohol addiction and has continued to be active in charity work.