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Cara Delevingne Shares Her Struggles

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Substance Abuse, Sobriety, and Self-Care

As the April cover of Vogue, the Suicide Squad actress took the opportunity to open up about her substance use disorder: how it developed over the course of several years, and how it led to a breaking point that caused everyone around her to express their concern.

Navigation: Paparazzi Photos Gave Delevingne Her ‘Wake Up Call’ to Get Sober, Delevingne’s Family History of Addiction, Early Struggles with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders, Spiraling into Substance Abuse, Friends and Loved Ones Rallied to Offer Support, Delevingne Reflects on the Long Journey to Sobriety, Why Do Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health Conditions Often Co-Occur?, Practicing Self-Care for Your Physical and Emotional Health


Cara Delevingne has spoken up about her struggles with substance abuse in a recent interview with Vogue.

As the April cover of Vogue, the Suicide Squad actress took the opportunity to open up about her substance use disorder: how it developed over the course of several years, and how it led to a breaking point that caused everyone around her to express their concern.

In her interview, she detailed the numerous challenges that contributed to her substance abuse, from her grandmother’s death, to a breakup, to the COVID-19 pandemic, all underlined by a family history of addiction, and culminating in a public breakdown that was documented by paparazzi.

Cara said that after her wake-up call last year, she reached out to some of her closest friends, had a group discussion, and is now in rehab.

The actress is now four months sober and she is committed to her sobriety. She is following the 12-step program on top of receiving addiction treatment in rehab. “This process obviously has its ups and downs, but I’ve started realizing so much,” she told Vogue.

Now Delevingne is slowly finding her center.


Paparazzi Photos Gave Delevingne Her ‘Wake Up Call’ to Get Sober

The so-called wake-up call refers to when Cara Delevingne’s pictures were taken by paparazzi last year, showing her looking bent out of shape. It was a public unraveling that happened last September, just shortly after her 30th birthday. She was photographed in public looking distressed and disheveled at the Van Nuys Airport in Los Angeles—photos that were quickly scooped up by the tabloids.

Weeks later, Delevingne looked radiant in her Paris Fashion Week appearance, leading to even more questions about her condition and her reported ‘downward spiral’. The actress described the paparazzi photos as a source of overwhelming embarrassment and shame.

“Sometimes you need a reality check, so in a way, those pictures were something to be grateful for.” She said it motivated her to finally face the issues she had been running away from.


Delevingne’s Family History of Addiction

When the photos came out, the tabloids quickly compared her situation to that of her 63-year-old mother, Pandora, who has previously opened up about her own struggles with heroin addiction and bipolar disorder.

Delevingne admitted that she is still grappling with the history of addiction that her mother has talked about openly.

This even informed her young adult novel Mirror, Mirror, which she co-wrote in 2017, featuring a protagonist with an alcoholic mother.

“For a long time, I didn’t really put myself in her shoes,” said the actress. “I just needed someone to be angry at and I was angry at her, but it wasn’t her fault. The way that addiction took my mother from me was brutal, and it was brutal for her too.”

Early Struggles with Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders

Cara does not deny growing up in an extremely privileged environment, but this came with its own challenges. This lifestyle is also what first exposed her to substance abuse. Delevingne started drinking and partying as a teenager.

“There was this need to escape and change my reality as I was hit with just huge questions: What am I doing here? Who am I trying to be?””

She said her first experience with alcohol misuse was at just seven years old during a family wedding. “I woke up in my granny’s house in my bedroom with a hangover, in a bridesmaid’s dress. I’d gone around nailing glasses of Champagne.”

At age 10, she had to be prescribed sleeping pills to help her manage her crippling insomnia. She also suffered from dyspraxia, which is a disorder that affects movement and coordination.

“This was the beginning of mental health issues and inadvertent self-harm.” At 15, she was put on antidepressants after suffering from a breakdown.

Spiraling into Substance Abuse

Delevingne struggled with bouts of depression at different stages of her life. However, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 had an even bigger impact on her mental health.

“In the beginning, I was living with people in this COVID bubble in LA. We thought it was going to be a weeklong thing, and so it was fun.”

At the time, she was quarantined with her then girlfriend Ashley Benson. But by April, their relationship ended and Cara hit a new low point, during which she felt “really alone”.

When the world began to open back up, she quickly went back to focusing on work and partying hard.

In the fall of 2021, while filming a project called Planet Sex in Tokyo, Cara learned of her grandmother’s passing.

Realizing her self-destructive lifestyle was not something she wanted to bring into her 30s, she organized a blowout Alice in Wonderland-themed birthday party as a last hurrah for her 20s. But despite being surrounded by her friends, she locked herself in her room and barely left.

Delevingne described a feeling of invincibility every time she was on drugs. This is an experience that many addicted individuals could relate to.

“I put myself in danger in those moments because I don’t care about my life,” she told Vogue.

Friends and Loved Ones Rallied to Offer Support

Eventually, her friends and family rallied to offer their support. Witnessing their loved one on the verge was a painful experience.

“It was scary, we were longing for something to change, but you can’t project that onto someone else,” said Delevingne’s aunt Melinda Stevens. “There were plans to do something about it, a lot of coordinating with her sisters and closest friends. We spent a lot of time with each other that summer, and it was reaching a pitch.”

After the paparazzi photos came out, Cara’s childhood friends rallied to support her. This is when she realized how valuable these meaningful connections were.

“From September, I just needed support. I needed to start reaching out. And my old friends I’ve known since I was 13, they all came over and we started crying. They looked at me and said, ‘You deserve a chance to have joy.’ ”

Delevingne Reflects on the Long Journey to Sobriety

The actress understands that addiction recovery is a lifelong journey. She said that she now understands the importance of holding herself accountable.

“I’ve had interventions of a sort, but I wasn’t ready. That’s the problem. If you’re not face-first on the floor and ready to get up again, you won’t.”

Delevingne checked herself into rehab late last year and is now four months sober and counting. She is also committed to a 12-step program.

She reflected on the fact that sobriety is a long and difficult journey, saying: “this process obviously has its ups and downs, but I’ve started realizing so much. People want my story to be this after-school special where I just say, ‘Oh look, I was an addict, and now I’m sober and that’s it.’ And it’s not as simple as that. It doesn’t happen overnight. Of course I want things to be instant—I think this generation especially, we want things to happen quickly—but I’ve had to dig deeper.”

Why Do Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health Conditions Often Co-Occur?

Mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety have a tendency to co-occur with substance use disorders. There are several reasons for this.

Genetics play a role in both mental health and substance use disorders. Certain genes may predispose individuals to both conditions, making them more likely to develop both. In the case of Cara Delevingne, her mother’s own struggle with addiction may have contributed to the development of her own substance use disorder.

Having a family history of substance abuse and addiction can make a person more susceptible to a dual diagnosis of mental illness and addiction.

Both mental health disorders and substance use disorders involve changes in brain chemistry. Substance use can alter brain chemistry in ways that contribute to the development of mental health disorders, and vice versa.

Aside from the biological and genetic factors of addiction, there are also environmental factors that come into play. Trauma, stress, and social isolation can contribute to the development of both mental health and substance use disorders.

Individuals who experience trauma or stress are at greater risk of abusing drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism, which can lead to addiction. Speaking of which, self-medication is another common factor. Some people use drugs or alcohol as a way to self-medicate symptoms of a mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression. They may find that substance use temporarily relieves their symptoms, and so they rely on it to feel better.

In the long run, however, this can lead to addiction and worsened mental health.

It is important to note that while these conditions often co-occur, they are also separate and distinct disorders that require their own unique treatment approaches. Dual diagnosis treatment, which addresses both conditions simultaneously, can be an effective way to help individuals with co-occurring disorders.

As we can see from Cara Delevingne’s own experience, addiction is a complex medical condition that has a lot of contributing factors. Seeking the help of a healthcare provider in a rehab setting can go a long way towards your sobriety.

Practicing Self-Care for Your Physical and Emotional Health

In addition to getting proper treatment, recovering individuals should also practice self-care to improve their condition and get better results.

The way you manage stress and take care of your physical health is a part of self-care, but that’s not all.  There are many types of self-care for you to practice: there’s physical self-care, emotional self-care, and even spiritual self-care. Self-care is all about using healthy practices that promote health and improve your well-being.

The World Health Organization defines self-care as a “broad concept encompassing hygiene (general and personal), nutrition (type and quality of food eaten), lifestyle (sporting activities, leisure etc), environmental factors (living conditions, social habits, etc.) socio-economic factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.), and self-medication.”

Self-care can involve visiting a mental health professional for your anxiety, depression, insomnia, etc. For some people, it can also involve attending a religious service to take care of their spiritual needs.

Self-care is considered an important component of primary healthcare, as it empowers individuals to take responsibility for their own health and well-being. The WHO emphasizes that self-care should be integrated into national health policies and strategies, and that healthcare providers should work with patients and communities to promote self-care as a key aspect of maintaining health and preventing disease.

Practicing self-care can be an effective way to boost your physical and emotional health while you go through the rehab process. Here are some self-care tips you can incorporate into your daily life:

Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can contribute to stress and anxiety, which may lead to substance abuse. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night to help you feel rested and refreshed.

Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you feel better physically and mentally. Avoid skipping meals and try to incorporate fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains into your diet.

Exercise regularly: Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and boost your mood. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.

Practice relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help you manage stress and anxiety.

Stay connected with supportive people: Surround yourself with people who support your sobriety and encourage you to take care of yourself. Avoid spending time with people who use drugs or alcohol.

Set boundaries: Set boundaries with people and situations that trigger your substance abuse. Learn to say no and prioritize your own needs.

Seek professional help if needed: If you’re struggling with substance abuse or addiction, seek professional help from a therapist or addiction specialist. They can provide you with the support and resources you need to stay sober and take care of yourself.

Look for a rehab near you today and get started on your road to sobriety.


Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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