Swansea-born Waterloo Road star Richard Mylan has revealed a 20-year battle with heroin addiction.
Speaking to the BBC in what “could be a career-ending interview”, the former Waterloo Road and The Bill star, who has been recovering for 10 years, said he was one of ” many functional occupational addicts”.
He decided to share his story to try to reduce the stigma associated with drug addiction. He said: “What matters to me is challenging our empathy response as a society. There are so many people who would never come forward because the stigma is so great.”
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The father-of-two said he suffered from “crippling anxiety” and started taking illegal drugs early in his acting career while performing in theaters in London. The 48-year-old said: “It was the biggest mistake I have ever made. I had been in the West End from a young age and there was a lot of alcohol and recreational drugs, which that cemented some negative behaviors.”
The Welsh actor has had many television roles, including assistant manager Simon Lowsley in the BBC television drama Waterloo Road and alongside Sheridan Smith in BBC Three Series Grownups. But alongside much of his acting career, Richard was also struggling with a “cycle of abuse” that drove him to an “absolute low” as he oscillated between drug use and cleanliness.
“My personal relationships suffered, my working relationships suffered and it robbed me of my inner ambition,” he told the BBC. “I managed to work, I managed to manage relationships and things to a certain extent, but nothing ever lasted because, in the end, it was chaos. It definitely took pieces from me. of my life.”
His decision to seek help for his addiction came 10 years ago when the situation had “escalated dangerously” and he finally told his now wife Tammie. “At the end of the day, I was tired of this cycle of being dragged under and coming back up to breathe and then being dragged back again. You get so down about this process,” he said.
“I was almost like stranded on a half-dead shore, thinking I had had enough. I wanted to live and be happy.”
Tammie gave him her “unconditional support” and said, “No matter what, we’ll get through this together.” Richard is proof that some users are “functional professionals” pursuing careers, he said. “Remember, I’m what people thought I was, but I’m also this…a recovering heroin addict,” he said. “We have to fight the stigma because if we have a chance of other addicts recovering, we have to mitigate it because it holds people back. defines you and every step forward is a step towards who you really are My recovery has been a journey back to me.
“People are complicated and need help, support and empathy. Everyone will know someone who is in a situation similar to mine.”
Richard now wants to help other recovering drug addicts and works with Adferiad, a charity based in South Wales.
“Addiction can never lift you where you need to go,” Richard said. “Only the right medicine from your GP for your depression, anxiety or bipolarity can help. Addiction robs people of themselves. They can never be brought back unless you have the right level of service and support.
“So I would say to addicts, don’t be afraid to connect with support because they just want what’s best for you. That’s why I’m a successful addict in recovery. “
Adferiad Associate Director Steve Campbell said: “Opioid use in Wales continues to be a serious problem. In order to tackle this it is essential that people seek help and receive the help they need. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma around opioid use and this can be a barrier for people seeking help.”
He added: “We know that being in treatment is a protective factor against many of the risks associated with opioid use, so we are working to end the stigma against people and urge anyone who has need help asking for help.”
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