09/26/2013 at 11:45 AM EDT
Michael J. Fox
has inspired millions with his courageous optimism and self-deprecating humor while battling Parkinson's disease.
Yet the veteran comedic actor, 52, whose highly anticipated The Michael J. Fox Show
debuts on NBC Thursday, says he suffered through a tremendously dark period shortly after his diagnosis in 1991 and turned to alcohol for comfort.
"My first reaction to it was to start drinking heavily," he told Howard Stern
on his Sirius XM Radio show Wednesday. "I used to drink to party, but now I was drinking alone and ... every day."
"Once I did that it was then about a year of like a knife fight in a closet, where I just didn't have my tools to deal with it," he adds.
He credits his wife, Tracy Pollan, 53, for pulling him out of his funk. He says she looked at him one day and said, "Is this what you want?"
Fox knew the answer was no and headed to Alcoholics Anonymous and, eventually, therapy, which he says taught him to "take one day at a time."
"Eventually, things got pretty great," he says.
The actor launched The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
, which has raised millions for the disease.