Peer Kusmagk: “I was drinking 600 euros a month. I was in mortal danger”

Wine, schnapps and withdrawal symptoms alternating: alcohol had the life of Peer Kusmagk under control. At Mental Health Matters, the actor tells how he overcame addiction and managed to lead a self-determined life today.

“I drank two or three bottles of wine and smoked one or two packs of cigarettes a day. […] My life was in acute danger, “recalls Peer Kusmagk, 46, about six years ago. At that time, alcohol addiction determined the life of the former GZSZ actor and” Sat.1 Breakfast TV “presenter.

At Mental Health Matters, the now three-time father and husband of Janni, 31, tells how he first slid deeper and deeper into addiction, which changed his life as a result and his long journey to the rehab clinic and out of addiction.

In part 2 of the interview, Peer Kusmagk talks about why Janni stopped drinking for him and what he will do if his children want to consume alcohol – to be read on from December 9th.

Peer Kusmagk: “Two to three bottles of white wine a day were the minimum”

GALA: When and why did you start drinking more alcohol?
Peer Kusmagk: That happened when I had my restaurant at the time. I was always surrounded by alcohol there. During the construction phase, my then business partner and I drank with joy, at some point because it got so stressful or I was sad. I connected my emotions more and more to alcohol – at some point all of them and I began to drink daily. A feeling of numbness, relief, or relaxation followed.

Has your consumer behavior increased steadily over the years?
Yes, that is part of the disease. My organism adapted, my tolerance level increased and I needed more and more doses to feel the same effect.

How much alcohol did you consume back then?
I went shopping in the morning for the evening shop and mostly drank a bottle of white wine in the afternoon while I was preparing the bar and one or two more in the evening. That was the minimum.

Sometimes I drank a schnapps in between to get back to my level.

Peer Kusmagk in front of his restaurant at the time in 2011 "La raclette" in Berlin Kreuzberg.

Peer Kusmagk in 2011 in front of his former restaurant “La Raclette” in Berlin Kreuzberg.

© Jakob Hoff / imago images

Consequence of consumption: “I only spent time with people who also drank”

How has your everyday life changed with addiction?
I neglected my social contacts, was no longer as productive in my job and felt a basic irritation when I did not consume alcohol. That was counterproductive to my relationships. My circle of friends changed. I’ve only spent time with people who also drank. In this way I was able to hide my problem, which at some point I knew it was one, and did not attract negative attention.

What symptoms have you shown as a result of constant alcohol consumption?
When I hadn’t been drinking, I struggled with withdrawal symptoms such as difficulty concentrating.

I woke up in the morning with a cold sweat on my forehead, shivered and my thoughts circled around the next drop of alcohol all day.

In addition, I felt limp and sick, my organs were damaged and at some point my suffering was very great. These were clear indications that I had developed an addiction disorder.

In the jungle camp in 2011, Peer Kusmagk first noticed that he had an addiction problem

When exactly did you realize you had a problem?
In the jungle camp in 2011 I noticed for the first time that I was having problems giving up alcohol. When, about three years later, I made a conscious decision to drink less and couldn’t do it, I knew it was serious.

My best friend and business partner at the time asked me about my consumption – also because it caused restaurant costs. I drank about 600 euros a month.

But he was much more concerned about my health. We went to an addiction counseling session together. But it still took a while before I got professional help. I first tried to stop on my own, wanted to prove to myself that everything wasn’t so bad that wasn’t working.

After participating in the jungle camp in 2011: Peer Kusmagk on his return to Berlin airport with his mom Roswitha.

After participating in the jungle camp in 2011: Peer Kusmagk on his return to Berlin airport with his mom Roswitha.

© Thomas Lebie / imago images

Addiction was ruling your life at this point.
Exactly, the U-turn came when I turned 40.

What happened then?
I thought to myself: If I keep doing this, I won’t be 50 years old.

I drank two or three bottles of wine and smoked one or two packs of cigarettes a day. In this state I was hardly able to act. My life was in acute danger.

At the same time, however, it was always my biggest dream to have a family as a sporty father and to live on the beach. I wanted to live an independent life. However, I could only do this if I defeated the addiction and let my body recover. My dream gave me the motivation to take this step and get professional help.

Then at some point you also sold your restaurant …
… because it is impossible to run a restaurant with such a disease.

Peer Kusmagk decided to open his restaurant in 2017 "La raclette" close.

In 2017, Peer Kusmagk decided to close his restaurant “La Raclette”.

© Sabine Gudath

This is how Peer experienced the stay in the rehab clinic

How did you experience your stay in the rehab clinic?
The body is occupied with alcohol withdrawal for the first two to three days. What’s important to understand: This clinic isn’t just for rehab. In German medical jargon it is called long-term weaning.

I had to get rid of my addictive nature so that I don’t drown every feeling in alcohol. I had to understand the pain that triggered my addiction, had to deal with trauma and learn to deal with my emotions differently. My place is here too ten-day online course “happy from today” at.

How exactly does your “Happy From Today” program work?
The aim is to recognize habits, to understand them and to change them sustainably in order to lead a happier life. I have to figure out what makes me happy and then establish that as my new habit. This is how I activate the release of happiness hormones.

The program is aimed at anyone who is not happy with external circumstances and who would like to learn how to easily create happiness within themselves instead of becoming dependent on worries and fears on the outside. For everyone who wants to go through life with more ease and carefree.

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Information about Peer Kusmagk’s ten-day online course “Happy from today”

The program aims to change habits in a sustainable way in order to lead a happier life. Peer explains how habits are created, how to change them and establish new positive ones. Every day there are different impulses from which the participants can develop individual routines. After a new habit has been developed, Peer helps to consolidate it.

How do you deal with your addiction as a dry alcoholic today?

Alcohol no longer plays a role in my life.

But especially in this difficult time I see many people who, like me, have acquired wrong habits and I am very happy about my experiences and how easy it is to give your life new direction with new, positive habits in my program can.

With the series of interviews “Mental Health Matters”, GALA would like to focus on the topic of mental health, clarify it and de-stigmatize mental illness.

Sources used: own interview,


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