Columbus Short in 2013
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Rick James once said cocaine is a hell of a drug, and it's that drug that got Columbus Short booted from Scandal. In an interview with Access Hollywood, the embattled actor opened up about the demons that caused turmoil in his life and ultimately ended his run on the show.

"I'll be candid: I was struggling with drugs," Short 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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For the last year, Short's life has been plagued with drama and legal issues.  From the spousal-abuse charge, then a battery charge after a fight with a bar patron, Short has given the blogs and tabloids enough fodder for a while.  After his arrest in March, after the bar brawl, Short confirmed his exit from 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 said 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 told Access Hollywood that Rhimes and his cast mates tried to get him help, but apparently that didn't work.

"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," Short stated.

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Among the issues that sent Short over the edge were the loss of a friend and troubles with his marriage. "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 stated. "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's advice for anyone dealing with drug abuse is basically to change your environment and the people you hang around with. "I think when anybody's dealing with drugs or alcohol, you need to change your environment, period," he said. "Persons, places, things, you need to get out of whatever the comfort—it was accessible to me. Come on—I'm on the No. 1 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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As Short is changing his life, he's also focusing on another aspect of his career. He's currently working on an album, but all hope isn't lost for a return to Scandal.

"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."