Paul A. Hebert / Invision/AP 1 / 2
Paul A. Hebert / Invision/AP 1 / 2

Columbus Short just lost himself, simple as that. He lost himself in drugs, in alcohol and in life in general.

And all of that led to his dismissal from ABC's "Scandal" earlier this year.

The embattled actor finally came clean to "Access Hollywood Live" about his struggles, admitting his life was essentially getting out of control.

"I'll be candid: I was struggling with drugs," he 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 ... 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."

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Drugs, he said, were used for "numbing" aspects of his life.

"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," he said. "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, it took my legs out from under me."

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Columbus knows he only has himself to blame, though. His "Scandal" cast-mates and show creator Shonda Rimes even attempted to help him.

"And if we're going to be fully transparent, they protected me and they held me down," he said. "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."

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For Columbus, his "rock bottom" may have come on Valentine's Day of 2014 when he was charged with misdemeanor spousal battery. His wife later filed for divorce. Then, in March, he was arrested again for battery for fighting with a patron in a restaurant.

Since then, Columbus said he changed his life and feels he's on the right path -- he moved to Atlanta five months ago and it's been "life-changing," he said. He's also working on music. But he's still holding out hope that one day he can return to "Scandal."

"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."