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Columbus Short Blames Scandal Exit on Cocaine Abuse: Shonda Rhimes “Wanted Me to Get My Stuff Together”

Columbus Short
Former Scandal actor Columbus Short openly discussed his struggles with cocaine and alcohol addiction in a new interview, saying Shonda Rhimes and his former colleagues "wanted me to get my stuff together." 

Coming clean. After a rough year, embattled actor Columbus Short openly addressed his struggles with drug abuse, which he described as his “biggest problem,” in a new interview with Access Hollywood Live.

“I’ll be candid: I was struggling with drugs,” Short, 32, admitted. “I had a lot on my plate, and you know, I was using unhealthy ways to kind of self-medicate and deal with a lot of heavy duty stuff in my life… I was doing cocaine and drinking a lot, and trying to balance a 16-hour work schedule a day, and a family, and I just lost myself back then.”

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This past Valentine’s Day, Short was charged with misdemeanor spousal battery, and his wife, Tanee McCall-Short, later filed for divorce. In March, he was arrested on another battery charge after brawling with a fellow patron in a restaurant.

One month later, he confirmed his exit from ABC’s smash drama Scandal. “At this time I must confirm my exit from a show I’ve called home for three years, with what is the most talented ensemble on television today,” Short told Us Weekly in a statement. “I would like to first thank Shonda Rhimes for the opportunity to work with such an amazing cast.”

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Short confessed that show creator Rhimes and his castmates were cognizant of his drug problems, and attempted to help him. “And if we’re going to be fully transparent, they protected me and they held me down,” he said. “And that was one of the real reasons – they just wanted me to get my stuff together. Sometimes the bottom has to be dropped out for you to really get it. So I moved to Atlanta. I’ve been living there for the last five months, five-and-a-half months, and it’s just been great. It’s been life-changing.”

Scandal Cast

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For the actor, drugs were used for “numbing” purposes as other aspects of his life fell apart. “I was going through a lot, going through a lot in my marriage, I had a lot of loss, tragic loss, so it’s tough,” he recalled to Access Hollywood Live. “Last year, one of my best friends died, he killed himself, Lee Thompson Young, and that kind of started a spiral. I found out when I was on set, and it really just, it took my legs out from under me.”

Short gave advice to those grappling with drug abuse. “I think when anybody’s dealing with drugs or alcohol, you need to change your environment, period,” he noted. “Persons, places, things, you need to get out of whatever the comfort — it was accessible to me. Come on — I’m on the number one show on television, anything I wanted I could get it, but that’s deadly, you know what I mean? So it was about, how do I change my life?”

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Lately, his focus has been on music — and he’s still holding out hope to return to Scandal. His character was buried in the first episode of season four. “I had to move, and my therapy really was my album. Working on my album changed my life,” he gushed. “Music changes things, and that is a fact. And, you know, writing it out. And I have a lot of crappy songs that I wrote, that are just like me ranting, and then I have great [ones], and I put together a great EP with the team, [and] that’s how I got through this.”

He added: “I’m really ready to get back to work. As far as Shonda’s shows, I would love nothing more to go back to ‘Scandal.’ It’s my family.”

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