TOWIE star James “Arg” Argent has revealed he is a cocaine addict — and suffered two near-fatal overdoses at home.
The reality favourite, 32, says his girlfriend Gemma Collins, 39, alerted the emergency services twice last year — and the door had to be kicked in to save him.
He admits being a heavy user for seven years, sparking fears among his loved ones that he could be the next celebrity to die.
Recalling his first overdose in October, Arg says: “I locked myself in my house and took drugs for three days straight on my own in the pitch black.
“I was at rock bottom. My heart was beating out of my chest, my nose was bleeding, I was shaking and my breathing was terrible.
"My family were banging on the door screaming, ‘Open up’ but I wasn’t answering the door to anyone. They feared I’d overdosed and was dead in the house.
“Gemma called the ambulance and the police came too and all of a sudden they put my door through. The paramedics did checks on me and I remember being so scared because I had so much paranoia and psychosis.”
After taking tests, paramedics agreed it was safe for Arg to stay with his parents to sleep. But just two months later, he overdosed again — putting his life in even graver danger.
He explains: “It was the night before my birthday and I said to myself, ‘Right, ‘I’m not going to do drugs tonight because I want to see my family on my birthday and spend time with Gemma’.
“But my addiction was so bad I couldn’t stop myself. I started early and was in a terrible place. I locked myself in, phone was off and my parents and friends were banging on the door again.
“Gemma called the ambulance and they broke through the door and did all the checks on me and this time they said, ‘There’s absolutely no way you’re staying here’.
“They said, ‘You’ve done so much and your heart is so f***** you could die. You have to come to hospital.’ I’ll never forget being in the ambulance with my poor mum.”
Arg was put on a drip but his pals still took his phone in case he called his dealers. Arg first made his name on ITV2 hit Towie alongside best pal Mark Wright in 2010, and started dabbling in cocaine.
His loved ones first knew he had a drug problem when he was declared missing in August 2014. His manager had booked for him to appear at a pool party in Majorca but he did not make his early-morning flight.
Explaining the truth behind his disappearance for the first time, Arg says: “My flight was at 4am so in my addict brain I thought I can’t go to sleep at 11pm and only have two hours’ sleep.
“So what I’ll do is take drugs but only do a little bit and then I’ll go straight to the airport.
“But all of a sudden I’m in a bad, bad place and the thought of going to an airport, sitting with hundreds of people on a plane, made me freak out as I knew I was f*****.” Arg then got into a taxi as planned but went instead to a hotel in East London.
He said: “I took myself to The County Hotel in Highams Park, checked in and started using again all morning. I slept through to the following morning and nobody heard from me. My phone had been off for over 24 hours as I had no charger.
“Then — I’ll never forget it — I left my room to ask a cleaner for a charger and when she came back she said, ‘Arg you’re missing, it’s all over Sky News and the internet’.
“When I plugged my phone in I’ve got a thousand missed calls, text messages, WhatsApps. I went on Twitter and ‘Pray for Arg’ was trending worldwide.”
Arg says he hid how serious his addiction was by taking it alone. After starting off doing cocaine in nightclubs, his £1.3million house became the base for his binges.
He explains: “It wasn’t glamorous or rock and roll at all. I wasn’t taking drugs surrounded by hot girls at wild parties. My drug use was always by myself, isolated.
“I didn’t want anyone near me. I wanted to be alone but it triggered horrific paranoia and psychosis.
“I’d lock the doors but I would think people were in my house and they were coming through the windows. I’d also feel like the police were going to turn up.
“I knew it wasn’t good for me. It wasn’t making me feel better and I didn’t even enjoy it but, for some reason, I had to get that feeling. It completely grabbed hold of my life — but I kept going back for more.”
Arg’s drug binges ended his relationship with co-star Lydia Bright and his job on Towie plus other high-profile TV work.
Different guy who can help addicts
By Stuart Pink
THERE’S no doubt James “Arg” Argent has got some colour back in his skin, which we know isn’t down to his local tanning salon.
Compared to how he was looking towards the end of 2019, he’s a different man. He just needs to focus on continuing that recovery.
By opening up about his dark secrets and two near-fatal drug overdoses he’s meeting his demons head-on.
He isn’t hiding — a promising sign he can overcome his illness.
Now he’s spoken about his addiction, his support network will increase further.
Many of his pals had no idea just how much trouble he was in.
Plus, he will inspire troubled addicts to open up about their problems, which is a reason why he contacted The Sun. He wants to help others in need.
Staying away from reality TV and continuing his newly established routine for the time being is a sensible move.
But, knowing how much Arg loves the limelight, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s on a show such as Dancing on Ice in the near future.
And what an incentive that is to get in shape.
He also binged on booze or food, and thinks the core to his addiction was trying to hide the pain of his break-ups plus anxiety about weight.
Arg, now 18st, says: “One of the main reasons why substance addicts binge, whether it’s drugs, alcohol, or food, it’s to escape feelings and get away from it all.
“I was in so much heartbreak and pain that I just couldn’t bear it, so I started taking drugs, and drinking heavily. I literally waited for any excuse to leave a nightclub early so I could go and do it at home.
“I didn’t do it every single night. I’d do it on a Monday night to the early hours then I’d be f***** for the rest of the day, then I’d binge-eat, then I’d sleep it off.
"It was every other night, pretty much four nights a week, and it would cost me a minimum £100 a night but some nights more. So on average, I was spending around £500 a week.”
He fell into a vicious cycle of drug-taking, rehab, six to nine months clean, before relapsing. But it wasn’t his overdoses that sparked his latest bid to get clean — it was spending Christmas Day alone and still using.
He says: “My house was a state. I had no food in so the only food I could get was the one kebab shop open on Deliveroo.
“I’ll never forget on Christmas Day sitting on my own eating a kebab for dinner. At that point I knew that was the moment where I said I need to get better and sort this out. You couldn’t get any lower.”
He then called on his best mate for help the next day. Arg recalled: “I remember ringing up Mark on Boxing Day saying, ‘I’m ready, can you help me?’
“Mark got in contact with the owners of this boot camp in Thailand who agreed that I could travel there on New Year’s Eve.”
Arg says his time at The River in Chiang Mai was the first time he took rehab seriously.
It came as a relief for his pals who feared he would be another high-profile death like Love Island’s Mike Thalassitis and Caroline Flack. He says: “They all thought, ‘It’d be Arg next.’”
During his previous four stints in rehab, including at The Priory, he refused to believe he was an addict. He was unable to comprehend the frank assessment that he could not drink alcohol again, as booze triggers his drug-taking.
He explains: “I just knew that if I don’t get better and I don’t get it right now, I’m gonna die.”
Arg stayed at the resort for ten weeks, exercising regularly, eating healthily and discussing his feelings during group therapy sessions. They also watched a “recovery movie” every Friday.
He returned home before Easter, 5st lighter. To help himself stay clean, he regularly visits a local out-patient facility.
Arg now feels ready to resume his career, and sing with his group, The Arg Band. He also feels it is the right time to open up, like other celebrity ex-addicts.
Arg said: “I want to own it the way that people like Davina McCall, Russell Brand and Robbie Williams have. I look up to those people and they inspire me.
“I feel like they’ve got a similar story to me and they’ve owned it and they’ve got themselves better and gone on to achieve incredible things so why can’t I?
“I don’t have to keep this a secret any more and I want to get this weight off my shoulders.
“It’s too early for me to sit here and go, ‘I want to do this so I can help other people and save lives’. But it is an ambition of mine further down the line.”
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