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I hit rock bottom early in life, says X Factor's Janet Devlin as she shares pain of alcohol battle


Janet Devlin

Janet Devlin

Janet sharing the YouTube video, detailing her struggle to get sober

Janet sharing the YouTube video, detailing her struggle to get sober


Janet Devlin

Former X Factor star and Tyrone singer Janet Devlin has thanked the public for their support after speaking out about her struggle to get sober after alcoholism drove her to suicide attempts.

The 25-year-old, who shot to fame at the age of 16 on the iconic reality show, said loneliness and social anxiety were the reasons she was drawn to alcohol in her mid-teens.

Speaking in a YouTube video, Ms Devlin said she was born an addict, saying: "I was in the privileged position to learn I was an alcoholic young. My rock bottoms happened earlier in my life."

On TV, she was experiencing "a lot of pain" that masqueraded as shyness when she captured viewers' hearts as an X Factor contestant back in 2011.

"It really was because I hated myself so much, I despised who I was," she says now, speaking to her more than half a million subscribers on YouTube, to whom she came out as bisexual in 2019.

"Every action I made, I would over-analyse to the point of having panic attacks. On X Factor, I spent so much time in bathrooms crying my eyes out."

She said while she wasn't drinking heavily on the show, her career gave her access to funds to buy alcohol from a young age.

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"Booze gave me so much, it was this magical juice that allowed me to come out of my shell."

After sharing her experience, Janet said she had been touched by the response.

She said: "Reading the comments on my alcoholism video is really eye opening. I wish I could hug so many of you.

"Your stories have made me cry, but I feel so much less alone. Also thank you so much for all the words of support for me on my sobriety. Thanks for caring."

In the video, Janet explained how after being eliminated from the show, she moved into an apartment in Sheffield, where she was recording music.

"One of my biggest triggers for booze was loneliness. I lived on my own when I was 17. That's when things started to go off the rails."

Her fame meant that it was impossible for her to go outdoors without being recognised, meaning she turned to alcohol to combat her solitude - ordering alcohol to be sent with takeaways to her apartment or hotel rooms.

"I started drinking wine and it ended up being big bottles of Jack Daniels," said the singer, who recently moved home to her parents' house in Gortin, Co Tyrone. When recording a new album, she said she was unable to turn up to the studio without being hungover.

"I was buying big bottles of gin, drinking them at night time, topping them up in the morning. I was a mess.

"My team, my family and friends were doing their best. My mum was at a loss because I could not stay sober. It was not my parents' fault. I never saw my parents drunk when I was a kid."

Janet said she achieved a career milestone after being asked to perform on popular Channel 4 programme Sunday Brunch. However, the night before the live show she was "drunk as a skunk", she said.

Soon, the young star was drinking every night of the week and started going missing for days on end. She also attempted suicide, she said. Things came to a head when, at the age of 20, she realised she was an alcoholic and sought treatment.

"Eventually I found AA. That was when my life changed. I did the 90 meetings in 90 days and I became a person again," she said.

If you are struggling with alcohol addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous can be reached on 028 9035 1222. For urgent support from the Samaritans please call 116 123.

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