'I'm Living Proof': On the Heels of Her Own Recovery, Wendy Williams Releases PSA for New Substance Abuse Hotline

Wendy Williams is no stranger to the struggle of addiction. The diva of daytime talk television has long been candid about her own past drug use, including a recent return to treatment and sober living amid months of media reports speculating about her health, marriage and sobriety.

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Now, Williams is paying it forward with the recent launch of The Hunter Foundation, which provides support to others grappling with substance abuse. On Friday, the media personality, referring to herself with her married name, Wendy Williams Hunter, premiered a PSA for the organization, in partnership with T.R.U.S.T (Treatment Resources Using Sustainable Techniques), to promote their hotline helping those in need of treatment and support, according to a release.

Since launching on March 11, 2019, the 888-5HUNTER drug addiction and substance abuse treatment resources hotline has received a total of 10,000 inbound calls ranging from requests for educational materials, treatment requests for detox, rehabilitation, sober living and outpatient centers, as well as calls expressing gratitude for the hotline as a resource. In addition, to date 400 inbound calls have resulted in patients being placed into treatment centers.

The hotline is fully staffed by specially trained Certified Recovery Coaches that conduct assessments and match callers with individual specialized lists of short or longer-term treatment facilities. The intake process includes an evaluation on the level of care needed, as well as financial circumstances.

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“The phones have been ringing nonstop,” said Ron Clinton, President of T.R.U.S.T. “400 individuals struggling with addiction have been placed in treatment in three weeks’ time. That is phenomenal. The more people we get help for, that’s one less person struggling.”

“10,000 calls in three weeks is remarkable! We’re doing our part by getting the word out,” said Williams in a statement. “All it takes is one call to get on the right path. We’re here to help.”

And for Williams, it’s undoubtedly a full circle moment, as she has recently weathered a nearly 18-month media firestorm which included multiple hiatuses from The Wendy Williams Show. To recap: speculation about Williams’ health began in late 2017, when she fainted during a live Halloween episode. By February of the following year, she’d placed her popular daytime talk show on hiatus, reportedly to focus on her recovery from Graves’ Disease.

Add to that repeated rumors of a split from her manager and husband of over two decades, Kevin Hunter, amid reports of his prolonged infidelity. On March 4th, Williams returned to her show after a two-month absence, stating publicly that her marriage and health were just fine (h/t Essence).

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“I’m still very much in love with my husband and anyone who’s been married … you know.

“Marriages have ebbs and flows, marriage isn’t easy. Don’t ask me about mine until you see this gone,” Williams added, pointing to her wedding ring. “And it ain’t going anywhere, not in this lifetime.”

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In the weeks that followed, the award-winning host confirmed she’d quietly been living in a sober house and under the care of a 24-hour sober coach to once again address issues of substance abuse. Then, on March 25th, Page Six and multiple outlets reported the birth of a child by Hunter’s alleged mistress, Sharina Hudson. (Hunter has not been confirmed as the child’s father.)

It’s more stress than your average non-celebrity could weather. That Williams, who has built much of her career on celebrity gossip, has been under such intense scrutiny has no doubt been a cruel irony. But by turning her focus to helping others struggling with addiction, Williams is undeniably using her power and platform for good.

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“There is hope,” she says in the PSA. “I’m living proof.”

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

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DISCUSSION

vincentpricelostlaugh
VincentPriceLostHisLaugh

I am really trying to have sympathy for what seems like a clearly abusive situation with her husband who owns the production company but girl. Wendy Williams is a brand unto herself. There is no doubt in my mind he would try and Kendu Isaacs or Stephen Belafonte her but she can rebuild and do so very easily. That inevitable fight can’t be any worse than what’s currently going on though.

There’s your man having other bitches and then there’s him having a baby with one amidst you passing out on TV and admitting you do cocaine to cope with all of that. To start a foundation and name it after his last name is either his doing or the ultimate bird move of someone desperate to be married and miserable. Someone judgmental like Wendy could very well be the type to think that she’s winning just because she’s married. In the year of R. Kelly’s downfall, auntie fuckery is en vogue.

I never thought I would say I want better for Wendy Williams but here we are.