Months after she was axed from the Essence Festival in New Orleans for an expletive-laced critique of the Church and Bishop Marvin Winans, gospel star Le'Andria Johnson revealed that she has been struggling for a long time with a “drinking problem” that was only curbed after a recent 30-day stay in jail and current surveillance through an ankle-monitor.
“It took an ankle bracelet for me to stop drinking … December 7, that was the last time I had alcohol,” Johnson told an audience in a recording of her testimony at the new Met Philly church in Philadelphia which included residents and staff from the Women Walking in Victory Rehabilitation Center.
Johnson, who was dressed in long pants at the event, confessed to the audience that she was wearing the device used to monitor many first-time and nonviolent offenders as she discussed her struggle with alcohol.
“It consumed every part of me. I didn’t realize I was drinking Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. I was drinking a lot,” she said.
“I woke up, by the time I got up it was around 11-something in the morning and by that time I was drinking. I didn’t realize. It consumed my day. I didn’t have time to talk to God. I didn’t have time to be there for my kids like I needed to. All I know is that I had to go out and make ends meet to come back home and provide for my family,” she said.
Johnson explained that she had suffered personal loss as she struggled with the bottle, including the death of her brother, and had been medicating herself with alcohol.
“My brother died. I lost a lot but I used alcohol to numb the pain but didn’t realize that alcohol was killing me slowly,” she said.
She explained that she ignored warnings from friends and loved ones around her about her addiction because she was in “denial.”
“I was in denial. You know how long it took me to first accept that I had a problem?” she told churchgoers while explaining how she prayed to God for help over something she was “doing to myself.”
She said she went out to drink one night at a bar about eight minutes away from her home and got arrested when she tried driving home under the influence.
“I left the bar, yeah me, I was only eight minutes away from the bar to my house,” she said.
She said when she got pulled over by police that fateful night, she was pulled over for a light that was out on her car. She was given a sobriety test and was arrested.
Johnson explained that she was sentenced to probation for that arrest but went on to violate her probation, which resulted in her being locked up for 30 days.
“The judge required me to wear an ankle bracelet. So I have my ankle bracelet on,” she told the audience.
She said her brush with the law and monitoring has now helped her to be a better person and parent.
“I think clearer now. I can handle my business. My children, they run to me. [They say] ‘Mommy I’m so proud of you because you’re spending more time with us. You’re not angry,’” she said.
Responding to apparent critics in a statement on social media, Johnson said Monday that she also freed herself from extortionists who tried to use her failure against her.
“I am not perfect and will never be yet I am taking the necessary steps to change. If bashing me for being honest about my life is how the vlog and blog game is played then so be it. I will not pay anyone to not tell my truth! I owned it, I told it and I am taking step to change it!” she wrote in the statement.
“I thought the vlog game was to call leaders out to tell the truth. Well I told the truth and still get bashed. So is the game really about leaders telling the truth or is the game to make money off posting about other peoples’ lives. Either way, I’m free and getting help for mine,” she ended.