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The Daily Dish The Real Housewives of Orange County

Gina Kirschenheiter Opens Up About Her Decision to Give Up Alcohol: “I Needed to Change”

The Real Housewives of Orange County cast member explained what went into her decision to get sober. 

By Cynthia Robinson
Tour the Home Where Gina Kirschenheiter and Her Boyfriend Are Raising Six Children

Gina Kirschenheiter is opening up about her decision to give up alcohol. 

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Watch The Real Housewives of Orange County on Bravo Thursday, July 11 at 9/8c and next day on Peacock. Catch up on the Bravo App.

“I can’t begin to describe how much it’s changed me,” The Real Housewives of Orange County cast member told People in an April 26 interview. “Drinking was a big part of my life and to eliminate it was a huge shift for me personally. But it’s had this trickle-down, ripple effect where I’ve just seen so many things shift for the better. And I couldn’t be happier.”

The West Coast ’Wife noted that fans will be able to witness her sobriety journey on the forthcoming Season 17 of RHOC, though she’s remained pretty low-key about the issue outside of the show. “I haven’t talked about it with anyone really,” she shared. “People keep saying to me on Instagram, ‘You’ve lost weight, are you on Ozempic?’ And I want to be like, ‘No, I just stopped drinking!’ So I’m excited to finally get my story out now.”

Gina went on to explain that she decided to make the change after realizing she’d developed a dependency on alcohol she hadn’t noticed before. 

“I was drinking way too much. What used to be a drink when I was out at night with friends became, especially during COVID, me pouring a drink every night without even thinking about it,” she continued. “And I don’t identify as an alcoholic, I don’t believe I have that disease. But I felt the scales starting to tip, and I didn’t like that feeling. I was numbing myself with it. I was self-medicating, and I couldn’t stop. It was more in control of me than I was of it.”

The mom of three shared how her inability to go even a short period without a drink “really raised a red flag” for her, noting how “serious” the situation had become. 

“It’s really hard to look at yourself like that, to examine your behavior to see what isn’t working,” Gina continued. “But I knew, after I did, that I had a problem. I was using alcohol as a crutch to not deal with my problems. I could see that it wasn’t the healthiest thing for me. I didn’t like the way I felt after a night of drinking. I didn’t like the way I looked. I wasn’t living my best life. And it was getting in my way; it was preventing me from being the best parent I could be, the best partner — all of that. I needed to change.”

To shift her attention away from the temptation to drink, Gina instead focused on spending “time with the kids.” The New York native, who shares three children — Nicholas, 10, Sienna, 8, and Luca, 6 — with ex-husband Matt Kirschenheiter, also acts as a stepmom to boyfriend Travis Mullen’s three kids from a previous relationship. 

“I distracted myself with healthy distractions,” she stated. “And it was good because it helped me take my mind off of it while also reminding me of the real priorities I had in life.”

Though drama came up during Season 17 of RHOC that Gina found “extremely triggering” — the kind of stuff that would have caused her to “[throw] back another cocktail” in the past — the California mom resisted. 

“Viewers will see… I’m having a very natural, real reaction to what’s happening in a way I don’t think I have in the past,” Gina explained. “And it’s not always easy, but it actually turned out to be a really good thing for me, and very good motivation for me to stay away from the bottle. Sure, it sucks to feel feelings and deal with things that you actually told yourself you dealt with already. But without the alcohol numbing my emotions, I actually allowed myself to address them and move on from them. Eliminating the alcohol helped me stay on the journey of healing from trauma I’ve been through. It became very powerful for me.”

Gina went on to say that she noticed “immeasurable” differences in her life, explaining that she was “much more focused” and “more of a present parent” due to sobriety. 

“I’m so much more of a better partner. I’m present, I’m happy, I’m not putting myself down,” she added. “And most importantly, I feel so much more in control of myself and of my mental health.”

Watch The Real Housewives of Orange County on Peacock and the Bravo app.

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