In the depths of her addiction in the 1990s, Danniella Westbrook spent an estimated £250,000 on cocaine, which caused her septum – the fragile cartilage that separates the nostrils – to collapse.
She even admitted to doing 5 grams a day while pregnant with her son, Kai, now 23.
But brave Danniella has never shied away from her troubled past, and openly documented her battle with addiction.
The actress has completely turned her life around, moving to the countryside and embarking on a rewarding new career as a therapist.
Danniella has confessed that she first tried the Class A drug in a nightclub when she was just 14.
After winning the role of Sam Mitchell in EastEnders at 16, the star became a regular on the London club scene and she began using cocaine regularly.
She stopped using for 14 years but relapsed in 2014, 2017 and 2019.
During an interview on The Jeremy Kyle Show in 2019, the 47-year-old admitted she’d still be doing 11 bags of cocaine a day if she could afford it, before heading to the rehab facility offered by the show and getting clean again.
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But recovery is rarely linear, and Danniella shared a frank Instagram post in September to explain she had relapsed with “alcoholism and addiction”.
“Ok so it’s no secret since leaving rehab I’ve slipped and slides more than I have been straight I guess,” she wrote.
“But today I’ve joined a new gym restarted my herbal life and going back to the rooms tonight.
“I’m done with the drinking the occasional packet and night out I’m totally over it.
“I know the best years of my whole adult life was the 14 years I spent clean and sober,” Danniella continued.
“So today’s the day I go back own my s*** pick up the newcomers ring with pride not shame.”
“I’m all in sick and tired of being sick and tired and feeling shame and a fraud when people tell me I’m doing well . I’ve done better this time round but I’m done I’m so bloody bored of it all.”
The star then bravely went on to declare herself a “recovering drug addict” and vowed to reach her “full potential,” clean and sober.
In an earlier post in May, Danniella thanked her therapist as well as her loving family and fans for helping her through “bipolar lows”.
“I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who follows me on not just @instagram but on all of my social media platforms. The love,loyalty,support & encouragement you guys have shown me has helped me through so so much,” she wrote.
“More than you know to be honest . During some of my darkest times the kind words and messages of encouragement helped me find the strength that some days I didn’t think I could find. People have reached out to me on here for help when they too have been struggling with life or addiction or mental health and for those of you that have done so I want you to know,I applaud you for your bravery 2 share your pain and struggles with me.”
Danniella’s EastEnders character was Sam Mitchell, the on-screen daughter of acting legend Dame Barbara Windsor – who played Peggy Mitchell – and the younger sister of Phil and Grant Mitchell.
She arrived in Walford in 1990 and stayed for three years, before being invited back two years later. However she was axed in 1996 after bosses reportedly tired of her poor attendance and unreliability.
Later that year they decided to give her another chance, but in 2000 she was axed a second time.
Her last appearance as Sam was in 2016 when she returned for a few episodes following a six-year hiatus from the role, arriving back in Albert Square for Peggy’s funeral. It has been reported that the door has been left open for her to return to the role in future.
But when the mum-of-two claimed she was in talks to return to the soap, her hopes were quickly dashed as a BBC representative said there had been no such talks.
In a bid to keep working between acting jobs, Danniella set up an OnlyFans account and tried to get a job at supermarket Aldi, but said she was turned down because she was too well-known.
“When I was on the breadline I tried to get a job at Aldi and people were like, ‘We can’t really give you a job, because you’ll be a liability because people will be coming in taking pictures of you,'” she said.
“I said people would get bored after a couple of days and they’d be used to it and that I had to earn money. But they said they couldn’t give me a job.
“I tried everywhere to get work and I just couldn’t get a normal job, but when you sign up to a soap it’s very hard to work on anything else, so you’re not going to get onto a Downton Abbey unless you’re very lucky.”
Instead, Danniella then set her sights on a role on ITV’s Emmerdale, telling The Sun : “I love EastEnders, I love Sam, but my dream is Emmerdale. I’d love to be in Emmerdale, I’m a country girl. You can see where I live – I ride horses.”
She added: “One of my school friends Kevin Mathurin, is now in Emmerdale, playing the vicar.”
While an Emmerdale role has not yet materialised, it’s clear Danniella’s life in the Welsh countryside has been beneficial.
“Life’s good, soul will be fed and spiritually topped up in no time,” she told her followers upon her big move.
And alongside a video after a morning jog, she said she was “still smashing the running and herbal life”.
“I have dealt with my demons and I’m out and living,” she remarked.
The star’s rep also told The Mirror: “Danniella has always enjoyed the country side, which is why she’s back permanently as it’s what’s best to continue on the road of recovery.
“The Welsh have gave her a warm welcome and she’s happy there. As they say, a little bit of country life is good for the soul.”
So dedicated is Danniella to her new spiritual life, she is hoping to give back to others as well as keeping herself on the right path in a new career as a therapist.
Speaking to Victoria Derbyshire, she said: “I think personally for me the only thing that’s going to stop me [relapsing] is keeping to the programme, helping others, helping the newcomers and getting involved with the treatment centre.
“I’m hoping this September to start my therapist course so I can become a therapist.”
Danniella said she is working towards qualifications in social care and is hoping to get her own rehab centre set up in the next 12 months.
She shares son Kai with ex-boyfriend Robert Fernandez, and and daughter Jodie, 19, with ex-husband Kevin Jenkins, but says she has been single since 2017 – and is even considering drastic measures in a bid to find love.
When Married at First Sight UK was airing last month, Danniella called for a version of the show that matches celebrities with non-celebrities, keen to star on it herself.
But she is still reportedly battling an unnamed ex, telling Melanie Blake earlier this year that she has asked police for a restraining order against them.
Speaking in the first episode of Girl Talk, Danniella said: “I’m going through it now on social media, with an ex of mine who is trying to bring me down. I went to the police yesterday to make a statement and get a restraining order, because he’s bringing up stuff from my past which is very damaging.
“Every time that happens I get recurring nightmares and then I get abuse on social media.”
Social media abuse has affected Danniella massively, and it’s partly why she recently decided to undergo number of cosmetic procedures, including botox and fillers in several areas of her face.
She needed her jaw completely rebuilt after her facial bones crumbled due to her osteoporosis from excessive cocaine use, admitting the bones in her jaw were “rotting”.
She has completed the first stage of four surgeries to rebuild her face, revealing in May that she was over the moon due to the fact she could no longer deal with the endless “hate” she gets on social media from vile trolls because of her appearance.
“Stage one of the four-part journey of reconstructive surgery to rebuild my face and finally stop all the hate,” the star said on Instagram.
In a 2018 interview, the actress told how her cheekbone was “wasting away” and how she has “screws” in her mouth instead of teeth.
Danniella sadly admitted she didn’t “like herself” any more due to the way she looked.
“I just don’t look like myself any more,” she confessed.
“Obviously I’m going to age a lot faster anyway because of the drugs but I didn’t need this as well.”
But after after her most recent procedures, Danniella took to Instagram to unveil her new look with sultry selfies, looking happy and confident, to which her fans told her she looked “ten years younger”.
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