Amber Valletta has been hailed for her supermodel looks for almost two decades, but beneath the beautiful exterior she was struggling with a lifelong addiction to drugs and alcohol, People reported.
"I suffer from a disease called addiction," said Valletta, 40. "I've had it for as long as I can remember. I sniffed markers, I sniffed glue, fingernail polish, anything that could give me a buzz."
Amber said she began her downward spiral into drug and alcohol abuse at age eight because she felt "uncomfortable being a human being."
Her addictions gradually escalated over the years, and reached its peak during her early twenties, when she was at the height of her modeling career. By that time, Valletta had become a full-blown addict who was abusing cocaine and alcohol on a daily basis.
Amber said she would regularly show up at photo shoots on drugs, but no one batted an eye. "I had a multimillion [dollar] deal and I showed up the first day to shoot this campaign high and drunk," Amber recalled.
Drugs and Alcohol Abuse Are Common In Modeling
Valletta said being in the modeling industry exacerbated her addictions because alcohol and drug abuse were so prevalent in the fashion industry. "I was in a business that drugs and alcohol were widely acceptable and they were given to me," she said.
Amber's experience is similar to that of former supermodel Carré Otis, who said she starved herself, abused laxatives, did cocaine, chain-smoked and exercised nonstop to stay skinny at the height of her modeling career in the 1980s.
While Otis looked healthy on the outside, she was actually malnourished and exhausted, and repeatedly lied to fans and to the media when asked about her diet and workout regimen. "Whenever asked about my diet/workout, I would cite a healthy routine, the kind touted in women's magazines," Otis told Australian Vogue.
'I Want to Inspire Others'
By the time Valletta was 25, she decided to seek help after realizing she could die. Amber said she has been clean and sober for the past 15 years but first had to get over the stigma of being an addict.
"I had to be willing to lift the veil off the shame and say, 'I'm an addict, I can't do this alone, I don't want to do this alone, I don't feel comfortable, can you help me?' " she said.
Valletta said she decided to go public with her drug and alcohol addiction in the hopes of inspiring others to get clean. "My hope is that someone will hear something that will help them and perhaps get them out of the shadows and the darkness of addiction and bring them into the light," she said.