updated 04/13/2014 AT 7:45 PM ET
•originally published 04/14/2014 AT 9:00 AM ET
Growing Pains star Jeremy Miller found fame very young – but he also battled alcoholism when the cameras stopped rolling.
Speaking to Entertainment Tonight’s Brooke Anderson, Miller described having his first taste of alcohol early on in life.
“My grandparents actually tell a story about how at 4 years old I would run around after their parties and clean up everybody’s beers,” he said, making a swigging motion.
After his family sitcom ended in 1992, Miller, now 37, left the spotlight. But his drinking became so bad that he’d head to the liquor store first thing in the morning and would drink until he blacked out.
“My boys were afraid of me,” he said of his three sons with wife Joanie, also revealing he contemplated suicide during his darkest days. “There were probably a few nights it was awful close. I’m glad I did not own a gun, because I hated myself so thoroughly, I would have done something very stupid.”
Now, the former child star has turned his life around, working as a patient advocate in a Santa Ana, Calif., clinic. Miller credits counseling, therapy and an injection of anti-alcoholism drug Naltrexone – not yet approved by the FDA – for his recovery.