Just a few episodes into its current twelfth season, “The Real Housewives of New York” delivered an iconic episode that will go down in history as one of its wildest ever.
If you’re a fan of the show, you know what we’re talking about: After deciding to stay in for the night at Ramona Singer‘s Southampton mansion, the “RHONY” cast starts to drink — and drink a lot — resulting in high jinx that included skinny-dipping, throwing tiki torches across the backyard, lots of screaming and, well, a vibrator inexplicably ending up on a platter full of chicken.
While we’d seen plenty of wild, alcohol-fueled moments on “RHONY” in seasons past, this round of debauchery had a less buttoned-up feel to it, thanks in part to newcomer Leah McSweeney, who turned some heads by deciding to drink on the episode, despite being open about her past struggles with alcohol that resulted in nearly a decade of sobriety.
During a recent interview with In The Know’s Gibson Johns, Leah opened up about her decision to start drinking again, six months before filming (“the show had nothing to do with it”) and accusations that she was “back off the wagon” (“I was never back on it!”).
“I’m going to keep it 100 with you right now. I’m just going to keep it 100. As I said on the show, I struggled as a teenager with addiction issues, behavioral issues, just mental health issues, just overall issues,” she began. “Even though I got my sh*t together as a young adult, the addiction stuff continued through the form of drinking. And everybody has different ideas of what an ‘alcoholic’ — I’m going to put that in air quotes — is, right?”
“Some people might have seen me and been like, ‘What? You have your company, you have a kid, you have it put together, you don’t wake up and drink,’ you know, whatever. But for me, I had a very clear message when I was 26 or 27 when I stopped drinking, 27,” Leah went on. “It was a premonition, and that’s why I stopped. So, nine years of not drinking. I mean, yeah, sure, I did some program stuff, but I was not 100% into it. I smoked weed sometimes. I micro-dosed sometimes. You know, I was very good, but I was always very adamant about not drinking.”
Before the Married to the Mob founder even knew that she had been cast on the long-running Bravo reality show, she dipped her foot back into drinking again, because she realized that she had come such a long way and felt confident that she had a strong head on her shoulders, strong enough to quit immediately if drinking ever became a problem for her again.
“I felt like I was in such a good place, that was around six months before. I didn’t even know I was going to be on the show at the time, and the show had nothing to do with it. I want to make that very clear,” she explained. “But I was like, ‘You know, I’m feeling like I’m in such a great place in my life.’ Maybe some people would be like, ‘I’m in such a great place, I don’t want to take a risk,’ but I’m different.”
“I was like, ‘I want to see if I can socially do this. What does it look like now? Because I don’t think I’m at a place where I would just let it all fall apart. If it became a problem again, I would stop,'” Leah went on. “So, that’s how that started.”
After the “RHONY” cast’s drunken antics at Ramona’s house in the Hamptons, Leah decided to lay off alcohol for a bit before indulging again, which some interpreted as her going back on her word of never drinking again — something she never said.
“I wasn’t making a proclamation! That was me saying, ‘OK, I’m just chilling for a minute.’ That wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I’m never drinking again, I’m getting sober again,’ you know?” Leah told ITK. “I think maybe the way that it was edited a little made it like, ‘She’s drinking again! She’s off the wagon!’ But I was never back on it again. I never was back on it.”
While the New York native, who said that she hasn’t “been drinking lately,” has a sense of humor when it comes to both her struggles and her overcoming those struggles, she wants to make sure that viewers of the show understand that she still does “understand the seriousness of it and the devastation of [drinking] for a lot of people” and that “it’s not something to take lightly.”
“I’m sorry, I might be rambling on and on right now, but it’s such an important issue in my life, and I don’t want to minimize alcoholism and addiction issues,” she explained. “Especially right now in this quarantine, people are really struggling. And, if you are an alcoholic, it’s very hard to stay sober. Even if you’re not an alcoholic, you might be over drinking right now. So, I don’t want to minimize or make light of situations, but it’s just a very personal issue, and it’s something that I’m monitoring.”
Plus, she laughed, it resulted in some pretty fantastic television.
“That episode, I think, [shows that it] did work out. I mean, I’m pretty sure it did. It was pretty good. I have no regrets whatsoever,” she laughed. “I drank for the whole season. I don’t get quite like that again, except for one other time, so don’t worry everybody: You will get to be entertained a lot.”
Listen to our full interview with Leah McSweeney below, and tune into “The Real Housewives of New York” on Bravo on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST.
If you enjoyed this article, check out our interview with fellow “Real Housewives of New York” star, Ramona Singer, here.
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