British singer Lily Allen has been open about her past struggles with addiction before getting sober, and she’s sharing some painful details from the past in a conversation with the “Recovery” podcast.
According to Allen, she began pursuing a career in music after dropping out of school, releasing her acclaimed debut album — and earning a Grammy nomination — when she was just 21. Despite that success, she admitted she was still unhappy.
“All I wanted was affirmation and praise and I didn’t even really get it then. I got it from strangers, but I didn’t really get it from the people I wanted it from,” she said. “In fact, I was kind of met with a bit of resentment from those people. Taking responsibility for my own actions, you know, I definitely like buried my head in drugs and alcohol, but I was really sad.”
She also recalled reading brutal comments — including “you’re too fat” and “you can’t sing” — in the British press.
“Of course, you know, when you’re waking up to that news every day, you just want to escape it,” she said. “And I very much used drugs and alcohol as a means of escaping that feeling.”
Admitting she felt “really worthless,” she “would spend my days, like, beating myself up and believing all of this stuff that was being written about me,” she said, “and then I would, like, spend my nights proving it wrong in a hotel room with five other addicts.”
She was just 24 when she married Sam Cooper, having two daughters after the heart-wrenching experience of stillbirth with son George. Then, she explained, she and her now ex-husband “ran out of money” and she forced to go back on tour.
“I was 14 stones [nearly 200 pounds] and just did not feel like a pop star at all,” she admitted. “So, I started taking this drug called Adderall, which is like speed, to lose the weight. And then I got addicted to this drug because it made me sort of, like, invincible and I could work really long hours and be all the different people that I was required to be at the time.”
In the midst of this, she felt totally out of place on that tour, opening for Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz tour.
“It was a very highly sexualized tour and, you know, I had just spent the last three years pushing babies out,” Allen recalled. “It couldn’t have been less what I felt like. And also, I’d never ever supported someone. So, I was sort of like re-entering this phase of being a pop star again but not doing it on my terms anymore. I was supporting this girl who was much younger and more attractive than I felt.”
Those negative feelings led her to be unfaithful. “I had always really drunk alcohol to take the edge off of the drugs. And then I realized that I was getting up in the morning and just going straight to the minibar and downing those mini vodka bottles or whiskey, whatever was left, and without the drugs anymore. I was like, ‘I think I’ve got a drinking problem.'”
She recalled a low point. “I remember being in L.A. and thinking like, ‘None of this acting out is working anymore. Maybe I should try heroin.'” It was “when that thought popped into my head” that she knew “it was time to confront whatever it was, confront my demons,” she said. “That was about five years ago. And I started recovery.”
Six months after getting sober, she relapsed in a big way, and it cost her everything.
“I lost my marriage; I lost my house that I’d worked for 10 years to buy; my career started just sinking and I lost all my friends,” said Allen, who whose divorce from Cooper was finalized two years after their 2016 split.
“I didn’t have any of my friendships anymore. I was so resentful, so angry all the time. Really felt like the world owed me stuff and I got the raw end of the deal. That went on for another four years and then I ended up back in the rooms again.”
Now sober, she’s in a far better place, married to “Stranger Things” star David Harbour since September 2019. “He’s sober, has been sober for 20 years now,” she said. “We’re thinking about what we’re going to do with the rest of our lives.”