Tyler Christopher Gives Maurice Benard Harrowing Account Of Reaching Rock Bottom

For the past six years, "General Hospital" fans have been missing Tyler Christopher as Nikolas Cassadine.

Although the role has been recast with Marcus Coloma, Christopher was the first actor to play the part and had just won his first Daytime Emmy in 2016 when reports emerged that a contract dispute was going to force Christopher to take some time off. He was replaced temporarily with Nick Stabile (via We Love Soaps) until Nikolas allegedly plunged to his death when he fell from a balcony.

In 2019, Nikolas was revealed to be alive when Coloma took over the role. However, by then, Christopher had already been hired by another soap. In 2017, he made his debut as Stefan O. DiMera on "Days of Our Lives," but, the next year, he left the show under vague circumstances and was replaced by former "General Hospital" co-star Brandon Barash, according to TV Line.

What happened to Christopher next seems like something out of a nightmare.

Tyler Christopher was arrested

In 2019, TMZ ran an alarming report about Tyler Christopher being arrested for public intoxication on his 47th birthday in Martinsville, Indiana. At the time, Christopher's longtime "General Hospital" co-star Nancy Lee Grahn voiced her support for the actor, tweeting to TMZ that he was not out partying.

"I say this with love but I can assure you that Tyler wasn't out having 'birthday fun'. He has a horrible disease," Grahn tweeted. "Tyler is at risk of losing his life if he doesn't get help, maintain treatment & work a program and there's nothing fun about it. He needs help not exposure."

The actor then seemed to disappear, occasionally posting on social media. Finally, in the fall of 2021, Christopher surprised fans when he began posting from Los Angeles, expressing how much he had missed the city. A few photos from sets indicated that he was working again, too. Variety soon reported that he was starring in a movie adaptation of the play "Murder Anyone?" 

Fans were happy about the update, but it left everyone wondering: How did Christopher go from hitting rock bottom to lifting himself back up again? It's a harrowing story that he just recently shared on the YouTube show "Maurice Benard: State of Mind" with his former "General Hospital" co-star Maurice Benard.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The actor admitted to being a lifelong alcoholic

To recount his life's journey up to that point, Tyler Christopher sat down with Maurice Benard in his home studio to film a video that premiered on March 27, 2022. The two actors — who both got their starts on "General Hospital" in the 1990s — talked like the two old friends they are. Christopher recalled his childhood and when things started to go wrong. 

"I had my first drink at 9 years old," Christopher told Benard. "Somebody at school said that if you go into your cupboard, there's these little things, they're called extracts. Vanilla, orange, lemon. Some idiot at school said, 'There's alcohol in there. If you drink it, you'll get funny, silly.' So what's the first thing I do? When I get home from school, I go in the cabinet, and my mom had vanilla extract, like from left to right, and I took every one. And that's how it started. And it never stopped."

Christopher went on to explain that alcoholism followed him into adulthood, including his first acting job, as Nikolas Cassadine, which made him a soap star. Despite his professional success, things in his personal life were getting worse and worse.

Tyler Christopher nearly died because of alcohol

As Tyler Christopher spoke to Maurice Benard, he tried to fill his friend — and his fans — in on the parts of his life they missed while he wasn't bringing soap opera characters to life. 

He described one time when he was going through delirium tremens, a severe form of alcohol withdrawal that can cause hallucinations, confusion, seizures, and more, per Medline Plus

"I was going through delirium tremens by myself," Christopher said. "Completely alone. Which is deadly. You can't do it. You sweat profusely yet you are cold. A migraine headache — Aspirin doesn't take it away. Shaking. Can't sleep. Zero hours of sleep. Can't walk."

He recalls vomiting profusely and getting out of bed to try to vomit in the bathroom instead. However, he fell in the bathroom, cracked his head open, and suffered a traumatic brain injury, which required surgery, he said. 

After that, Christopher was put under the medical guardianship of his older sister with the stipulation that he had to live in the same state as her — which meant two years of isolation in Ohio during the pandemic.

The General Hospital star experienced homelessness

Although Tyler Christopher did not specify the time period that he experienced homelessness when talking to Maurice Benard, he did say that he took a train from Ohio all the way to California, where he hoped to resume his career.

It was fall 2021 when Christopher began posting social media photos from Los Angeles. But, apparently, when he first got there, he had no place to live. He had lined up a place to stay with a friend, but the friend backed out at the last minute.

Having been robbed of his phone and wallet, he felt he had nowhere to turn, so he walked to Skid Row in Los Angeles, where a large population of unhoused individuals congregates. That's when he made his first decision about death, he told Benard.

"Finally, after a couple of weeks, I decided, if I'm going to die, it ain't going to be here," Christopher said. "So, I started walking again. And I don't know how I got to where I was but I ended up on Hollywood and Vine. And I made another decision. If I am going to die, it's not going to be on the [Hollywood] Walk of Fame."

Eventually, Christopher took another walk and made it to Toluca Lake, where he realized he had a tiny bit of battery in his laptop and sent a message to a friend. As he tried to make a bargain with God — that he could take Christopher if that was what God wanted — his friend found him and got him help.

Tyler Christopher takes responsibility for his mistakes

After a life-altering few years that left the former "General Hospital" star without a home and near death, Tyler Christopher believes he is finally on the right path. 

The actor shared that he has bipolar disorder, which Maurice Benard also suffers from and treats with lithium. Christopher said he finally found one doctor who can treat him for his three main issues: alcoholism, traumatic brain injury, and bipolar disorder. 

However, he takes full responsibility for his actions and the experiences he went through as a result.

Christopher is now in the process of writing a book with Susan Black, the writer who co-authored Benard's 2020 book, "Nothing General About It: How Love (And Lithium) Saved Me On and Off General Hospital." 

As he looks back on his life to share his story with others, he can see where he went wrong.

"I'm literally creating a timeline, 1998, 1999, 2000 ... and I go on and on and on, and all of these things that I put myself through is really hard to come to terms with because nobody has forced me to do anything with my life," Christopher told Benard. "Nobody is to blame for anything that's happened to me."