I was days from death after a three-year booze and cocaine binge, says Liberty X star Michelle Heaton

LIBERTY X singer Michelle Heaton says she was days from death after going on a three-year cocaine and booze binge.

In an exclusive interview just 36 hours after leaving rehab, the pop star and TV personality says she was only saved by an intervention from showbiz pals led by Katie Price.

They not only insisted Michelle, 41, book herself into The Priory, but paid for her four-week stay to beat her drug and alcohol addiction.

Breaking down in tears, she said: “I texted Katie while I was in The Priory, ‘You saved my life’. Because The Priory did save my life.

“What I was doing was a suicide mission. I never actually thought, ‘I want to kill myself’, but ultimately I was killing myself.

“I was crying out for help when I couldn’t actually ask for help. But when you’re an addict, it feels like there’s no way out.”

Michelle had been downing up to two bottles of wine and a bottle of vodka virtually every day since 2018, and snorting cocaine.

She was staring death in the face but wouldn’t accept it until she went into rehab.

Michelle recalls: “There was a moment when I said, ‘I’m not going’. My best friend kicked off at me and said, ‘Michelle — you’re dying’.

“It was a joint effort from all my very dear friends who wanted me to live.”

DOWNWARD SPIRAL

The married mum of two shot to fame on ITV’s Popstars in 2000, leading to the formation of Liberty X a year later. After they split in 2007 she moved into writing and TV work.

A downward spiral set in when she discovered in 2012 that she was a carrier of the mutated BRCA2 gene.

It meant she had an 85 per cent risk of breast cancer and up to a 40 per cent risk of ovarian cancer. So she took the agonising decision to have a double mastectomy in 2012 and a hysterectomy in 2014.

Michelle said: “The hysterectomy plunged me into early menopause. On paper I’m not recognised as a woman, I have no womanly organs.

“Without the HRT I’m just a walking nothing. But I felt I had to live with that pain and suffering myself because I made that choice.

“I wasn’t allowed to cry or grieve or ask for help and I didn’t have therapy.”

It was at this point that Michelle turned to drinks and drugs.

In The Priory she was told that a healthy level of the enzyme GGT in the blood — which indicates how damaged a person’s liver is — was 30 or less. Hers stood at 2,500.

She said: “They had never seen a girl come in who registered that high. A therapist said to me, ‘We didn’t know if you were going to make it’.”

And as Michelle’s physical state deteriorated, the Brit winner stopped taking care of her appearance.

She said: “I hadn’t washed properly, I was scruffy, I looked grey and I didn’t care.

“Last September I hit rock bottom with the alcohol and had excruciating pains. My doctor could feel my liver sticking out because I was so thin.

“I had scratch scars because liver issues make your skin itchy.”

Michelle, voted Celebrity Mum of the Year in 2014, felt guilty her addiction had forced her husband of 11 years, Hugh, to raise their daughter Faith, nine, and son AJ, seven, as virtually a single parent.

She said: “I felt like a bad mother — the worst. I’m so lucky I’ve got two beautiful children. They just want to see Mummy well and they want to have ‘fun Mummy’.

“They want me to play football with them, they want me to do their hair. It was those simple things that I wasn’t able to give them.

‘I COULDN'T EVEN STAND UP’

“I never put them at risk in a physical way, but they saw me being sick and were worried about Mummy and wondering why she shouted. And my husband wondered if I’d be alive when he woke up.”

One of her lowest points came five months ago, when she went on a huge bender the night before going on stage in panto in Liverpool.

She said: “It was five minutes before the show started and I was violently sick all over the floor. I screamed out for help. I fell on the floor and was sick again.

“I was so cold, shaky, I couldn’t even stand up or move my head. So I had to make the call to not do the show. I was devastated.”

The nightmare worsened after she was rushed to hospital.

Michelle said: “I ended up in a room with people who looked like alcoholics and drug addicts — blood, no top on, stinking and dirty.

“Nobody saw me for about two or three hours. I was crying because a guy next to me kept touching me and saying, ‘You’re so beautiful’ and ‘Do you have a husband?’

“I felt utter shame that I was with these people. But I was one of them.”

On one of her biggest coke-fuelled benders, Michelle stayed up for three nights while giving a series of private concerts with other entertainers when they shared a hotel.

Michelle said: “That was probably the longest ongoing stint of coke and booze. It would be all night, do the gig then start all over again.

“It was one gram of coke a night, and I’d drink Jagerbombs, sambuca, tequila.

“I got on the train home thinking, what the f*** did I just do?”

On her friends’ eventual intervention, she said: “I was shaking and I was crying. I was intoxicated. Katie Price said, ‘Right, you’re going to The Priory’.

“My first instinct was ‘Thank God’. I never asked for help but they could see I needed it.

“Over the next 48 hours my manager, Katie, my husband and my best friends did it all for me. When Katie, who’s been through the fire and come out the other end says, ‘You need this’, you sit up and listen.”

Yet even after going cold turkey in rehab and having therapy, Michelle still struggled to admit the truth that everyone knew.

'I AM AN ADDICT'

She recalled: “The therapist said, ‘You’re an addict. Just say it’. And I said it. Because I am an addict.”

The coke abuse grew in tandem with the drinking. Being in the enter- tainment industry gave her easy access to drugs.

“It’s very prevalent. There was a party every week. I didn’t go out looking for it. If it was offered I would give money for it.

“And I definitely surrounded myself with ‘enablers’. I pushed away a lot of really good friends — who are back and here now — because of the shame.”

Her cocaine use tapered off in lockdown when it was harder to access drugs. But she drank more. Michelle said: “The amount of alcohol was ludicrous. I would be sick then I’d drink more.

“The days I didn’t drink were very few and far between. I would buy it daily and have copious amounts hidden.

“Vodka was my go-to as it doesn’t smell as much, its cleaner and has fewer calories. If you looked for cheap deals it could cost no more than a couple of coffees a day.

“I’d have a bottle with a little bit of sparkling water and the rest was vodka. It would always be in my bag. I drank it everywhere.

“I’d wake up about noon and lunchtime seemed like the right time to start drinking again.”

Then it started to affect her marriage, with her unusual behaviour convincing husband Hugh she was seeing someone else.

Michelle said: “There’d be an argument where I’d storm off and then get out the vodka.

“I wasn’t having an affair, but I was in love with alcohol. There’s the sneaking around, the lies. It’s protection of your addiction.

“Yet he stood by me the whole time. I wouldn’t have stayed with me, I don’t know how he’s still there.

“If he had left it would have been the tipping point for me.”

The family finances were suffering due to lockdown and also because word of Michelle’s abuse had started to spread in the entertainment world.

After Liberty X, she had moved into other areas, such as writing and TV work on shows including ITV’s Lorraine.

'I WAS BECOMING UNRELIABLE'

But suddenly she wasn’t getting jobs.

She said: “I was becoming unreliable. I was late. I lost jobs I was in the running for.”

Michelle doesn’t feel pity. She is just grateful her liver seems to have made a recovery and she no longer feels like she isn’t a woman. And she hopes to revive her career.

She said: “I’ll never touch drugs or alcohol again because I’ll die.

“If I was to pick up one drink it would be lapse. Who’s to say that one drink wouldn’t lead to another?

“I just feel like the most lucky woman in the world because I’m here. I get to tell my story in my words and I’m still alive. I have the most beautiful family and friends.

“And I really do feel I deserve a second chance. I’m not going to give up on any dreams now.”

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