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'I'm an alcoholic' - Janet Devlin speaks about addiction in new video

Janet Devlin

Former X Factor star and Tyrone singer Janet Devlin has spoken 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 the hearts of the nation 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 overanalyse 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.

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

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 complete 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."

The pinnacle came when she achieved a career milestone after being asked to perform on Channel 4 programme Sunday Brunch. The night before she was "drunk as a skunk", she said.

"I woke up at 4am in the morning being sick, could barely brush my teeth. I stunk of booze and people were obviously very worried. I just about made it through that performance."

Soon, Ms Devlin was drinking every night of the week and started going missing for days on end. She also attempted suicide, she said.

It came to a head when, at the age of 20, she realised she was an alcoholic and sought treatment.

"I almost died a few times. It was not pretty, people had to come and get me a lot to try and sober me up. I tried government schemes, I went to groups where you try and solve your alcoholism. Nothing was working."

"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.

Belfast Telegraph