Stacey Dash, ahead of the release of her book There Goes My Social Life, is opening up about the tough experiences she’s endured throughout her life.

Stacey Dash On Drug Use, Abuse

“Sometimes my past is extraordinarily heavy. That’s when I scream and cry until I feel like I can breathe again,” Dash told People magazine, adding of her younger years, “I couldn’t find happiness. It got to a point where I didn’t even want to live anymore. The voice in my head was saying, ‘There’s nothing here for you.'”

Dash, who grew up in South Bronx, first tried cocaine when she was 16-years-old, and it soon turned into a full-fledged addiction treatment in Los Angeles. The controversial Fox News pundit places some of the blame for the drug culture rampant in inner cities on social welfare programs.

“When you get stuff for free, you have no self-worth,” Dash claims. “When you have no self-worth, you become depressed, addicted and either abused or an abuser. This is what perpetuates the cycle of violence in inner cities. We don’t need free stuff. We need opportunities.”

Dash’s drug habit continued well into her 20s, when she was also involved with a man who would physically abuse her. The Clueless actress believes she stuck around because of her low self worth.

“He would punch me in my body, my legs, my chest, anything that could be covered,” says Dash. “But part of me felt like I deserved it because what I was coming from was no better. I didn’t have an identity. That’s why I fight for women and people in the inner cities today. I want them to know it will get better.”

Dash was still doing drugs when she became pregnant with then-boyfriend Christopher Williams‘ child. Though Dash contemplated abortion, she ended up deciding to go through with the pregnancy, eventually welcoming a son named Austin, who is now 25. Dash is also a mother to 12-year-old Lola. Years away from her drug-addicted days, Dash thinks its important to be open with her kids about her past.

“The best way to protect my children is to be honest with them,” Dash told People. “I let them know that I survived. I’m not a victim. And there is nothing they can’t overcome.”

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