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Colton Haynes reveals how divorce and the death of his mother drove him into the depths of drug addiction

The 'Arrow' star is ready to start a new chapter in Attitude's 25th anniversary issue.

By Steve Brown

He’s had to hide his sexuality, battle anxiety and an addiction to drink and drugs, as well as cope with the death of his mother and the break-up of his marriage, but following a year which saw him reach his lowest ebb, Colton Haynes is out the other side and looking forward to the future.

As he appears on the cover of Attitude’s 25th anniversary issue – available to download and to order globally now – the Arrow star speaks for the first time about how his destructive use of drugs and alcohol spiralled into a life-threatening crisis following the death of his mother, Dana, from alcohol-related cirrhosis in March 2018, and his similtaneous split from his husband of six months, Jeff Leatham.

“In 10 years, there were maybe 25 days I didn’t drink,” the 30-year-old actor admits. “I remember when I started, it was a couple glasses of wine, and it regressed into really dark times.

“I used to blame it on my anxiety or depression issues, but really the root of all my problems was the alcohol and drugs.”

Substances became more of a crutch after Colton’s highly publicised coming out in 2016, as the star struggled to cope with the increasingly intense glare of life in the spotlight – and as his personal life began to crumble in early 2018, his self-destructive behaviour gathered pace at a worrying rate.

Colton Haynes, shot by Leigh Keily exclusively for Attitude’s 25th birthday issue

“I came out and, in a way, my downward spiral started,” he explains. “I felt extremely free but at the same time the amount of attention I was getting was making me spin out of control.

“I got married and that didn’t work out. That was extremely public and heart-breaking, and right when that was going on, my mom died. 

“At that point I fell apart. My brain broke. I was doing a massive comedy for a studio, showed up to work and got fired on the first day. They said I looked as if I had ‘dead in my eyes’, and I did. 

“I got so heavily involved with drugs and alcohol to mask the amount of pain I was feeling that I couldn’t even make some decisions for myself. I was drowning in my own shit.”

Having already been admitted to hospital several times following drug and alcohol abuse, Colton – who entered a four-month treatment programme and has now been sober for six months – recalls how rock bottom came when he was committed after being found at a Los Angeles hotel after a seven-day drug and alcohol spree.

Photography: Leigh Keily

“I locked myself in a hotel room at the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills for seven days and was found in my room with these insane bruises all over my body,” he recalls.

“It looked as if somebody had beaten the shit out of me. I couldn’t walk, so I was falling everywhere.

“I almost ruptured my kidney, ended up in the hospital, ended up in 5150 psyche hold [a way to keep someone in hospital involuntarily for up to three days when there is a ‘serious need’]. I was on such a destructive path that I could not function.

“I lost partial sight in my left eye for a while. I ended up having two seizures. I didn’t know any of this was happening until I was sober enough to remember it.”

The former Teen Wolf star says the incident served as a “rude awakening” which finally drove him to seek treatment.

“If anyone else had told me to get help I would be like ‘Fuck you!’. I had to make that decision on my own. I was ready to stop running from my own problems.

“Once I went to treatment, I found this amazing amount of true love for myself, and started figuring out who I am without those vices, and recognising the people in my life who lifted me up instead of tearing me down.”

As he prepares to embark on a new chapter in his life and career, Colton knows that the hard work is not yet over – but he’s ready to embrace a future free from the demons that have dogged him for nearly all his adult life.

“I’m always going to be in recovery. There are so many people struggling out there, but not a lot of them talk about it. Life is much more beautiful than I could have imagined,” he says.

“It’s just a different life now. It’s the best gift I’ve ever been given.”

Read Colton’s full interview in Attitude’s 25th anniversary issue, out now featuring two other special covers with the BBC’s Ben Hunte and Mashrou’ Leila frontman Hamed Sinno.

Buy now and take advantage of our best-ever subscription offers: three issues for £3 in print, 13 issues for £19.99 to download to any device.