Former Little House On The Prairie child star Melissa Gilbert served as president of Hollywood union the Screen Actors Guild while hiding an alcoholism secret.

I felt stuff that I had stuffed away for decades, since my own father passed away

The actress reveals she used to drink heavily in an effort to sleep at night - and block out the pain of her father and grandfathers' deaths andthe pressure of leading Tinseltown's stars.

Now sober, Gilbert reveals all about her alcohol problems in her new memoir Prairie Tales, and tells website, "I was a wife and mother... when my alcoholism really blossomed. It was about 10 years ago, after my grandfather passed away. I felt stuff that I had stuffed away for decades, since my own father passed away.

"I couldn't get my brain to shut off at the end of the day between the kids, having lists of things to do, my job, working, I was president of Sag, etc. I would numb things so I could relax and sleep.

"I started having one glass of wine each night, then three and four glasses, then one bottle, two bottles, and three, just to go to bed at night".

Her then-eight-year-old son Michael made her realise she had a problem when he questioned her drinking.

She recalls, "About five years ago, I was standing in the kitchen and drinking my customary glass of wine while making dinner. He said, 'Mommy, you're not going to drink more wine, are you?' It was just like getting punched in the stomach. I realised this was not the mother, wife, or person I wanted to be. I had to change and fix it".

Gilbert immediately signed up to attend women's-only Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and slowly kicked her boozing habit.

She adds, "It was great for me to be in rooms full of women who were invarious stages or far ahead of me in their sobriety, or even women who had less time than me. I learned to gather my strength and move on".

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