The actor was a series regular as Harrison Wright on Shonda Rhimes’ political drama for its first three seasons, before his character’s fate was left in the balance and Short was written off the show following domestic abuse charges from his wife. In an interview with Access Hollywood, he explained the substance abuse that dominated his life at the time.
“I’ll be candid. I was struggling with drugs,” Columbus said. “I had a lot on my plate, and you know, I was using unhealthy ways to kind of self-medicate and deal with a lot of heavy duty stuff in my life… The real drugs – I did cocaine. I was doing cocaine and drinking a lot, and trying to balance a 16-hour work schedule a day, and a family, and I just lost myself back then.”
Short declined to discuss the specific circumstances surrounding his substance abuse, simply saying, “It was numbing stuff, it was just numbing… a lot of things I really don’t want to talk about. I was going through a lot, going through a lot in my marriage, I had a lot of loss, tragic loss, so it’s tough. Last year, one of my best friends died, he killed himself, Lee Thompson Young, and that kind of started a spiral. I found out when I was on set, and it really just took my legs out from under me.”
Columbus said that Rhimes knew about his struggles and tried to help him turn his life around. “She did [know]. And if we’re going to be fully transparent, they protected me and they held me down. And that was one of the real reasons – they just wanted me to get my stuff together. Sometimes the bottom has to be dropped out for you to really get it,” he continued. “So I moved to Atlanta. I’ve been living there for the last five months, five-and-a-half months, and it’s just been great. It’s been life changing.”
Since leaving Los Angeles, the actor said he’s overcome his problems and is ready to work, saying he would relish the opportunity to work with the Shondaland topper again.
“I’m really ready to get back to work,” he said. “As far as Shonda’s shows, I would love nothing more to go back to ‘Scandal.’ It’s my family.”