Darren Day, 53, reveals he went on a week-long cocaine binge in lockdown saying 'I was like the walking dead'
DARREN Day has told of his shame at going on a week-long cocaine binge in lockdown, admitting: “I was like the walking dead.”
The star did not eat, sleep or even change his clothes as he snorted almost £2,000 of the class A drug.
Darren, 53, had been clean for years after beating an addiction that almost killed him.
But he reached rock bottom when his company went into liquidation during lockdown.
He recovered only with the help of his best friend, Robbie Williams, and the support of his fifth fiancée, Sophie Ladds.
And, in an exclusive interview with the Sun on Sunday, Darren revealed for the first time that he also suffered a secret crack addiction for five years.
Now, 16 months after his devastating relapse, Darren has returned to full health as the star of two new touring shows — Footloose and Chicago.
Fighting back tears, Darren recalled: “I barricaded myself in the bathroom for seven days. I didn’t eat at all. I didn’t change my clothes for a week. I didn’t sleep.
“It was last May and I was so stressed, I hadn’t earned since February 2020 and I was four days away from rehearsals for Footloose when all the theatres closed.
“I had to liquidate my company, I got no furlough, I wasn’t entitled to Universal Credit.
“There are no excuses but I was basically s***ing myself. I was at home in Essex, just me and Sophie in the house.
“I thought, ‘I’ll just have a few lines. I’ll just do one night’.
“I locked myself in the bathroom for seven days. It’s not an exaggeration. I physically locked myself in the ensuite bathroom to our spare room, on my own, for seven days.
“Sophie was just so sad. She’d come and knock on the door occasionally but we didn’t really communicate. She was downstairs and I was in the bathroom upstairs.
“I just don’t think she knew how to deal with it because she hadn’t seen me like that.
“I lost a week of my life. I did about 20 to 30 grammes of cocaine. I kept going until it was gone.
“I sat at the top of the stairs and I sobbed like I’ve never sobbed before.
“I thought about my kids and I thought about Sophie. I just thought they deserve better. And, maybe, for the first time I thought that I deserve better and I’ve never felt that before.
“Sophie said, ‘You are like a zombie’. I was like the walking dead.”
Then Celebrity Big Brother star Darren, right, called Robbie, 47. The pair became unlikely pals after he revealed on the reality show that Robbie once cheekily tried to chat up his ex-girlfriend Anna Friel right under his nose.
Robbie emailed Darren to apologise and the pair hit it off. The singer even paid for Darren to go for rehab in South Africa in 2019.
Darren said: “When I rang Robbie when after what happened last year he wasn’t disappointed. He’s never been disappointed. He’s just incredible.
For the first time I thought that I deserve better and I’ve never felt that before.
“I suppose it is because he sees a lot of me in him — and I see a lot of him in me.
“I don’t mean to sound too dramatic but I love Robbie like a brother and he has been the most incredible support.
“Rob put me back in touch with his mental health team as I’d obviously relaxed a bit on the recovery, taken my eye off the ball a bit. I had stopped going to meetings.
“I did some Zoom meetings, got a sponsor again. I did three meetings a day for the first two or three months.”
Now, he looks healthy and glowing. Darren, once a Butlin’s redcoat. took fourth place in the final of telly’s Opportunity Knocks.
He then landed a West End role, replacing the departing Phillip Schofield to star in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
It was at the age of 28, in 1996, hosting the prime-time ITV Saturday night show You Bet! that he became hooked on cocaine.
40 OR 50 PILLS A DAY
He said: “It just totally just gripped me by the balls. It started off as a social drug but then it got to the point where it wasn’t social.
“And like my therapist says to me now, ‘You’ve always been an extreme person’.
“I’m either heaven or hell. Jesus or Satan. Good or evil. And it wasn’t just cocaine. I had a painkiller addiction to codeine at one point, too.
“I was taking 40 or 50 of them a day. I was eating them like Smarties but I was still functioning, which is a constant source of amusement to my therapist.
"My constitution is ridiculous and it’s a wonder my septum hasn’t collapsed. They should put that on my headstone: ‘Darren Day strong cartilage.”
He went on: “Despite everything I am so lucky though. Literally six weeks ago, I went to see my throat specialist because I’ve got these gigs now.
“He put a fibre optic camera up my nose and down my throat and he said, ‘Your chords are like they’ve never been sung on and your nose is like nothing ever went up it.’"
As well as a long-standing psychological dependence to drugs and alcohol, Darren has revealed for the first time that he also had an addiction to crack.
He said: “I was a crackhead from 2001 to 2005. And crack makes you an instant junkie. I was smoking it, not snorting it. Actual crack rocks. Smoking it on a little pipe. It’s ridiculously intense.
“Thank God I never went down the route of heroin but, without a doubt, crack cocaine was the worst time. It is so addictive that you do so much of it and the money just disappears.
“I looked like I’d just walked off the set of Trainspotting. The addiction was so quick. I would physically vomit with excitement when I knew I was going to do it.
“The pull to it was almost like when you get a bit sick as a kid on Christmas morning as you’re so excited about opening your presents.
“Some of my darkest, darkest days I’ve had were on that stuff. And God only knows, it was days and days and days at a time.
“You’re climbing the walls by the end of it in a way that you never do with cocaine.
“I remember after doing it for a few weeks, being in West London waiting to be picked up by my driver.
“He drove me everywhere and he just went past me. Then he did it again and I had to step out in the road to get him to recognise me.”
Despite earning millions of pounds at the height of his career, Darren was declared bankrupt a year later in 2006 after blowing hundreds of thousands on drugs.
Now his focus is on work. And he is grateful that he’s been given another chance to prove to producers that he’s worth taking a risk on.
He said: “I know it’s the last chance saloon for me now. I’ve had to clamber back to the point where producers and directors have faith in me again and now, I’m trusted with a show again.
“I have a partner who has faith in me, I have my three children who have faith in me and I don’t want to let those people down. So, for me, professionally and personally, this time is the moment.”
His drug problems are matched by those he has had with relationships.
Thank God I never went down the route of heroin but, without a doubt, crack cocaine was the worst time.
He has had a string of broken engagements including with Coronation Street’s Tracy Shaw, actress Isla Fisher, dancer Adele Vellacott and Hear’Say’s Suzanne Shaw, with whom he has a 16-year-old son, Corey.
He also has a 12-year-old daughter Maddison and son Dalton, nine, from his marriage to Stephanie Dooley, which ended in 2019. Apart from Anna Friel, he has also dated comedian Stan Boardman’s daughter, Andrea, and Joan Collins’ daughter, Tara Newley.
Darren said: “I’ve never been proud of the love rat tag but I can’t deny that I’ve always struggled to be faithful.
“When the papers used to say I should keep it in my pants I kind of agreed. I’m well aware that I’ve been punching above my weight all my life because I was famous.
“I used to be known as Lord of the Rings because of my engagements. But I will never say, ‘Will you marry me?’ again. My knee definitely couldn’t take another proposal!”
Darren popped the question to Sophie in August 2020 outside Wimbledon Theatre where they first met. After his stint on Footloose, following his forthcoming Chicago tour, they plan to marry.
He said: “I fully believe with every single ounce of my being that I would never be unfaithful to Sophie. I would be an idiot.
“And if I went off the rails again in any way it’s only going to hurt my children too. It feels like I’ve been given another chance and I’m determined that I’m not going to f it up this time.
“When I was in the West End in the late nineties I was known as Darren Every Other Day as I used to miss 50 per cent of my shows as I was talking so many drugs.
“But from now on, I’m going to be Darren Every Day.”
- DARREN Day appears in the UK touring show of Footloose from February 2022. For tickets visit www.footloose-musical.com
So lucky to still be alive
By Carol Cooper, Sun doctor
DARREN Day is lucky to have survived his week-long coke binge. Many users have died from less.
Cocaine is a dangerously potent stimulant. It creates a rapid high which can soon turn to irritability, restlessness and even paranoia.
It narrows blood vessels and raises blood pressure. It over-stimulates the heart, which can trigger a heart attack.
Much the same happens in the brain. This can lead to a seizure or a stroke, which can be fatal.
Coke can also damage the gut or cause severe kidney failure.
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