‘I was high and drunk on a multi-million dollar shoot’: Amber Valletta opens up for the first time about her ‘daily’ battle with addiction
Amber Valletta has opened up for the first time about her ‘daily’ battle with drug and alcohol addiction.
The 40-year-old supermodel, who stars in TNT’s upcoming drama, Legends, spoke about her addiction at a live talk for MindBodyGreen.com, a site that helps people live better, healthier lives.
‘I had a multi-million dollar deal and I showed up the first day to shoot this campaign high and drunk. I didn’t care,’ confessed the mother-of-one. ‘And that’s to just show you addiction takes you to the worst places’.
Ms Valletta, who is married to the Olympic volleyball player, Chip McCaw, said her addiction started at an early age, and it took her 17 years to seek help.
‘When I was about eight I would sniff markers, glue, and nail polish – anything that could give me a buzz,’ she recalled.
‘Then I found drugs. By age ten, I think I had been high… And by the time I was 18, I moved to Europe and found cocaine and alcohol.’
The model, who has starred in campaigns for Louis Vuitton, Calvin Klein and Versace, was born in Arizona, and grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her single mother who worked at the post office and bought groceries with food stamps.
Ms Valletta doesn’t blame her tough childhood for her addiction, nor does she blame the modeling industry.
‘It is genetic, I’m predisposed to it… I’m just an uncomfortable human being, I feel anxious and have a need to take the edge off.’
She does admit, however, that modeling was a business ‘where drugs and alcohol were widely acceptable and given to me’.
She added: ‘I didn’t have any tools to help myself. I was this socially awkward kid thrown into a world that was very sophisticated. I couldn’t manage my feelings, so I took things to cope.’
At 22, Ms Valletta was at the peek of her modeling career (she has starred on 16 American Vogue covers – more than Shalom Harlow and Kate Moss combined), but said that she ‘put everything on the line’ for her addiction.
‘By age ten, I think I had been high… And by the time I was 18, I moved to Europe and found cocaine and alcohol’
She reveals that she got sober at 25 simply because she ‘didn’t want to die’.
‘There is a misconception about addiction,’ she said. ‘It doesn’t allow you to stop by using sheer willpower. I had to seek out support, learn how to meditate, and be humble. I had to find a spiritual compass.
‘I had to lift the veil off the shame and say “I’m an addict, I can’t do this alone”,’ she said.
Earlier this year, Ms Valletta opened up to The Telegraph, saying that occasionally she is still tempted to drink alcohol, but she never succumbs.
‘Every once in a while, I’ll miss a glass of wine. And there are drinks that I’ve never tried and I think, “S-, I should have tried that.” But I’m so much better without it – the risk I take if I have something is too big. I don’t know where it will lead me.’
Ms Valletta hopes that breaking her silence on her struggle with addiction will help lift the taboo that surrounds the disease.
‘I’m not hiding in my shame. There’s a lot of shame in addiction, it’s how it thrives: darkness, secrets, lies, cheating. It’s demoralizing.
‘We need celebrate sobriety, we need to bring it into the light’.