Sarah Harding has opened up about the desperate extent of her drug use and reveals she used cocaine to get over a break-up before being ‘dragged’ to rehab.
The Girls Aloud singer is set to release her new autobiography, Hear Me Out, this week and details how she fell into a life of drug use and the moment she realised she needed to quit.
In an exclusive extract obtained by Metro.co.uk, Sarah recalls her first experience with cocaine at a fancy party in Knightsbridge hosted by a ‘Saudi playboy’. After seeing her friend use drugs on their nights out, the Sound of the Underground singer caved and tried it herself.
Sarah insists she has never tried harder drugs such as heroin and ketamine as they scared her and was never ‘addicted’ to cocaine.
The 39-year-old descended further into the partying lifestyle following her split from boyfriend Tom Crane in 2011 and recalls a particularly ‘messy’ trip to Ibiza to get over her heartbreak.
When she returned to the UK, Sarah went ‘completely over the top’ before realising it was ‘literally a case of do or die’ and that she needed to ‘take action’.
In addition to her stint at a rehab in South Africa, Sarah reveals she’s secretly checked into treatment facilities ‘more than many people know about’.
Elsewhere in the book, Sarah opens up about her battle with breast cancer which has now advanced to other places in her body. Doctors told The Promise singer that the previous Christmas was likely to be her last.
She has also opened up her special ‘connection’ with Robbie Williams and reveals they could have dated.
Sarah’s Girls Aloud bandmate Cheryl has contributed to the memoir and reveals show she’s coped with the singer’s cancer battle.
Sarah Harding reveals desperate extent of her drug use
Sarah Harding opens up on her cocaine use and rehab stints
I’m not saying I wasn’t a party girl and a rock ’n’ roller as time went on; that’s well documented. My social anxiety and eagerness to fit in led me down a few paths that maybe I shouldn’t have gone down, but I’ve never been so out of control that I couldn’t stop and pull myself back.
The first time I tried cocaine was at a party in Knightsbridge, in a ridiculously plush townhouse, owned by a rich Saudi playboy. Once we were there, Calum disappeared off with his friends. I remember sitting on a couch, on my own, feeling like a bit of a gooseberry because everyone around me was ‘indulging’ and I wasn’t.
‘I know what you’re up to, I’m not silly,’ I told Calum when he appeared back at the party, but at the time I guess he still wasn’t ready to talk to me about stuff like that. In the end, I got talking to some of his friends upstairs in the living room, some of whom were indulging. I told them that Calum was off somewhere, and one of them said, ‘You know what’s going on; there’s some over there.’ I could see the powder on the table, so I walked over and looked down at it. F**k it, I thought, what’s good for the goose and all that. One of Calum’s friends was trying to persuade me not to do it, but it was like some kind of mist had descended over me. I tried to roll up a banknote like I’d seen people do on TV and movies, but before I could finish, Calum and the female friend were behind me in the room.
Calum wasn’t at all happy. ‘Babe, don’t do it, please,’ he said. ‘You don’t have to.’ I guess it was more bravado than anything else, but I went ahead and did it anyway. Once the deed was done, Calum got really angry. ‘Thanks a lot,’ he shouted at his friend. ‘She was the one unspoilt, innocent thing in my life.’ ‘No, it’s not her fault,’ I chimed in. ‘You lot have all been doing it every time we’re out, so why shouldn’t I?’ That was my first taste, and it had taken quite a while. I knew some friends who’d been doing it for years but who’d always kept it away from me because they thought I was disapproving. I suppose they were right, yet here I was at a house in Knightsbridge finally partaking.
Luckily, I was still a bit scared of the whole drugs thing, so I never went over the top or did much of it. It was always there, though. I didn’t know it that first time, but in the following years I would have some bumpy patches with both drugs and alcohol, and plenty of other times when I was strong enough to say no. The bad patches mostly came when I was using something to numb the pain of a situation – self-medicating, I guess you’d call it. These are things I’ll talk about down the line, but suffice to say, after that first time something in me had changed. I’d crossed a line and, as time went on, the more I did it, the more immune to the fear I became. In the end, it felt like a natural thing to do when I went out. It was what you did when you were out partying; it was what everyone did, wasn’t it?
The split from Tommy left me broken, and I’d gone to Ibiza with two of my girlfriends. My friends, knowing what I was going through, were doing their utmost to keep an eye on me and make sure I didn’t go over the edge, but, to be honest, they were fighting a losing battle. One night I ended up at the hotel’s Freddie Mercury tribute night with some other mates, wearing a moustache. Later I found myself dancing my ass off, I was dripping with sweat with make-up running down my face, having a great time. It should have ended there, really. Instead, a few of us went upstairs to someone’s flat for a while, then it was back down to the party. That’s when it started to get a bit messy. It was really late by this time, and time to go to bed, but I didn’t! By then, my girlfriends were worried about me. I’d texted to say I was on my way back but then got chatting to a couple who’d been partying hard. By that time, I was getting a bit emotional. I guess that’s what sometimes happens when you’re upset or distraught about something. You drink to forget, and it’s great when you’re on the way up, but when you’re coming back down the other side at the end of the party, everything just seems a hundred times worse. The couple I was hanging out with had a little bit of everything on them and were happy to share. ‘I’m usually quite picky, but at the moment I’ll try whatever you’ve got,’ I told them. You can just imagine what kind of mess I was in when I did finally get back to my friends. The next day wasn’t at all pretty.
This continued when I was back in the UK, with me going completely over the top. There was usually someone on hand offering something to help ease the pain. It got so bad that I had to have a couple of girlfriends stay at the house with me, just to make sure I was OK. I wasn’t sleeping properly or eating. I was on a treadmill of booze, sleeping pills and drugs if they were around. Anything to numb the pain. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go down the dark route of heroin or anything like that, and drugs like ketamine and crystal meth scared the life out of me. I’d seen people taking ketamine in Ibiza, and watched them turn into these strange beings, once the high had subsided; sitting there, rocking like maniacs. Still, it was bad enough, and a measure of how low I felt. If something really bad had happened to me, it most definitely would have been then. I realised then that it was literally a case of do or die, and I knew I had to take action.
My heart goes out to people, many of them in the entertainment industry, who have struggled with ongoing issues around alcohol and drugs. Some of them, like me, simply fall down during difficult times, and then do their best to deal with those times as they arise. Looking back, I probably should have given myself a bit more credit for having the balls to go and fight my demons when I did. I believe everyone who puts themselves through rehab deserves credit; it’s never easy. It’s even harder to talk about it honestly, but that’s what I’m trying to do. I’d never describe myself as an addict. However bad things got, I always knew when enough was enough. Still, I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a few stints in rehab – more than many people know about. It’s something I chose to do when I felt I needed to, and even though some were more successful than others, doing it always gave me a chance to stop and take stock.
One of the rehab places I went to was based in South Africa. When it was time to go to the airport, I was a mess. In fact, it took my driver Ray almost two hours to get me out of the house; he was virtually dragging me in the end. I was in such a state: crying, scared. I simply did not want to go. En route to the airport, I sat in the back of the car on the phone to Nicola, crying my eyes out. ‘How am I going to do this, Nicola? I’m on my own … I’m doing this on my own.’ Nicola listened patiently to me; she was so supportive. I think she, like everyone, knew I needed to do something. I knew it too. It was a help just being able to talk to her on that journey to the airport because it took my mind off where I was going and what might be waiting for me.
Much of the work in rehab facilities is done in groups, and I found it extremely difficult, sharing stories about myself in front of strangers. Still, at least in South Africa, thousands of miles away from home, I felt like nobody knew me or had preconceived ideas about who I was and what I was about. That was something which made it a little bit easier.
At the end of this whole period, I realised that I was still desperately sad about my break-up with Tommy. I’d done all this stuff to get over him: drinking, partying, then trying to get clean and going to rehab, before getting involved with someone completely unsuitable. It was a mess. The whole thing was a mess, and the lowest point of my life. The truth was, I was all over the place – broken because I missed Tommy so much.
Hear Me Out by Sarah Harding is published on March 18 (Ebury Press, £20 hardback plus ebook and audio).
Credit: Original article published here.