Lily Allen remembers her stint as an opening act on Miley Cyrus’s “Bangerz” tour in 2014 as a low point. So low, in fact, that it’s when she realized she needed rehab.
“It was a very, like, highly sexualized tour. And, you know, I’d just sort of spent the last three years pushing babies out,” Allen, 35, said on The Recovery podcast. “It couldn’t have been, like, less what I felt like. And also I’d never, ever supported anyone. So I was sort of re-entering this phase of being a pop star again but not doing it on my terms anymore. I was supporting this girl that was much younger and more attractive than I felt. And I just started acting out in all manner of ways.”
At the time, Allen, who’s seven years older than Cyrus, was married to her first husband, with whom she’d had two daughters and a son, who was stillborn. She’d gone back out on road because she needed the money, even though she felt too heavy after all her body had been through. She had already become addicted to Adderall in an attempt to lose weight. The situation worsened on the tour.
“I started, like, cheating on my husband, and I had always drunk alcohol to take the edge off of the drugs, and then I realized I was getting up in the morning and just going straight to mini-bar and downing those little, mini bottles of vodka or whisky or whatever was left and without the drugs anymore,” Allen said. “And I was like, ‘Oh, well, I think I’ve got a drinking problem.’ And I remember being in L.A. and thinking just, ‘None of this acting out is working anymore. Maybe I should try heroin.’”
The “Smile” singer already knew that was a dark path, having grown up the daughter of Keith Allen and Alison Owen, famous creatives in their native England.
“I’d been in a scene, you know, where I had seen what happens to people who use heroin and knew when that thought popped into my head it was time to — you know — confront my demons,” Allen said. “And that was about five years ago. And I started recovery.”
Allen got clean but quickly relapsed.
“And then at six months, I started drinking again and, almost instantly, I lost everything. I lost my marriage, I lost my house that, you know, I’d worked for 10 years to buy. My career started just sinking. And I lost all my friends. I didn’t have any of my friendships anymore,” Allen said. “I was so resentful, so angry all the time. I really felt like the world owed me stuff and I got sort of the raw end of the deal. And yeah, that went on for another four years, and then I ended up back in [recovery] again.”
She also ended up divorcing Sam Cooper, with whom she shares daughters Ethel and Marnie, in 2018. (Allen has been open about her infidelity during the relationship.) Two years later, she married Stranger Things actor David Harbour.
“I think it’s surrender more than anything,” Allen said of maintaining her sobriety. “And acceptance and gratitude. I am not great at my Step work and at the moment I haven’t got a sponsor, but I do do my gratitude [list] every day. I get up in the morning, and I do my gratitude list. And I try and do my gratitude list before I go to bed as well, every night. And I feel like that really keeps me in check, as well as meetings, you know. Going to meetings regularly.”
The singer reported that she’s in a good place now, no longer feeling like her happiness depends on whether her song reaches the top of the charts or that she has to prove her worthiness to people.
“It’s really great, and I think, more than anything, I feel like I am in the process of breaking that cycle [of addiction],” Allen said. “I felt so guilty about neglecting my kids in those early years of their lives and having to go off on tour and misbehaving in the way I was. You know, I really have a great relationship with my kids now. I’m there to pick them up at the school gates whenever I can be and I’m up dropping them off in the morning, and I make them dinner. They come to me when they’ve got problems. And that’s, that’s golden for me. I just feel like that they’re confident little girls, and I don’t feel like, you know — touch wood — they’re not gonna to turn into drug addicts like I did. But, you know, they seem like they’re on a good path.”
She described her relationship with Harbour, who’s been sober for about 20 years, as “really happy” and “really healthy.”
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