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Image / Living / Culture

‘I was, unfortunately, on the way to dying’: Michelle Heaton on how addiction took over her life


by Sarah Finnan
02nd Sep 2021
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Liberty X singer Michelle Heaton gave a searingly honest TV interview in which she detailed her struggles with alcoholism and addiction.

Speaking about your own personal vices is never easy, particularly when those vices have had a knock-on effect on other people in your lives. Recognising the problem is the first step to recovery though and Michelle Heaton has bravely opened up about her struggles with both alcoholism and addiction. 

Joining Lorraine Kelly on her first show since being off for the summer break, Heaton began the interview by apologising to the popular morning TV host. “There were times when I drank before I sat on this sofa and you trusted me, and I did campaigns for you, and I love you so much because you’ve always been there to support me, and I want to say I’m sorry.”

Also becoming emotional herself, Lorraine was quick to comfort her guest, responding, “Oh Michelle, don’t be daft. You don’t have to apologise to me or to anybody else.” Going on to detail just how much of a struggle the past 18 months have been for her, Heaton said that while her drinking has always been an issue, things really got on top of her during lockdown. 

“I was in trouble with addictions many years ago. It got worse over lockdown. I was able to hide it because of the lockdown. At some point over the last year and a half, I lost complete control and was completely powerless to alcohol. I don’t know when or how it happened but at some point it did,” she confessed. “I couldn’t breathe without drinking. I couldn’t get out of bed. I was, unfortunately, on the way to dying. My liver was packing in and my pancreas doesn’t work anymore.”

Since going to rehab to try and help her get a handle on her life, the singer who rose to fame on the ITV talent show Popstars in the early noughties, said that recovery is an ongoing process. “It’s like being reborn, which is great, but I would drink on every emotion. So, I’m having to learn coping mechanisms on everything from fear, hate to calmness and serenity. I have to accept that it’s ok to feel serene because I’ve never known it. I was always in chaos,” she commented.

“Whatever I’ve been searching for is more acceptance, I suppose. I’ve never felt that I was good enough,” she continued. Touching viewers with her heartbreaking honesty, several thanked her for sharing her story. “It takes a lot to do what you have just done. Your honesty [is] so appreciated. I related to every word,” one fan tweeted, while another added, “what an amazing woman to come back from the dark place she was in. An inspiration to anyone fighting addiction.”

Appearing on the show alongside her husband, Hugh Hanley, he said that although the past few years have been exceedingly difficult, both he and the couple’s children are so happy to see Michelle on the path to recovery. “The last three or four years have been extremely tough knowing that Michelle was in there but the addictions were ripping her apart. Sometimes the way she would be towards me and the kids wasn’t nice but I knew that wasn’t Michelle and it wasn’t who she really is and I kind of held on to that.

“I was good mentally and physically and I knew I could deal with Michelle and me and I could protect the kids and we could deal with it, but there were days when I questioned my sanity, there were days where I would break down,” he admitted.

Now home with her family after going to rehab earlier this year, the mother-of-two is well on her way back to herself, with Hugh adding, “It’s a great outcome for us because it could have really gone the other way. I hoped I’d get my wife back to some degree but really in my heart of hearts I never thought I’d get her back to the person she is.”

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