Legendary supermodel Amber Valletta was on top of the world in the 90s. By the turn of the millennium, Vogue magazine (on which she appeared 16 times) called her a “Modern Muse,” an appropriate term for the woman who posed for Chanel, Calvin Klein, Giorgio Armani, Versace and countless other major houses. But while Amber was jet-setting around the world, twirling on runways and shooting campaigns, the model struggled with a substance abuse problem that almost consumed her entirely.
“I hit my bottom — when I was 25…and I remember it very well,” she told CBS News’ Lee Woodruff in an interview that aired this morning. “I think when you come to a point and you look in the mirror, and you can’t say anything nice to yourself — that’s a real problem.” Amber was discovered at 16 years old, and by the time she was 18, she was partying with the best of them in Europe. According to the model, addiction runs in her family and she unfortunately succumbed to nature.
“The first time I tried cocaine…I was in it — first time. And the last time I used I had — let me just put it this way. I hadn’t slept in a while, and I ended up going to St. Vincent’s alone and walking home alone after they released me the next day. And that is not a good feeling.”
She kept her addiction a secret for decades, but is coming out now to talk about it to help dispel common beliefs about addiction. “I believe that addiction is still considered something shameful, and that if you had the willpower, you could fix it. And that’s just not true. It’s time to lift the veil.” But although coming forward about her issues 15 years after she started to recover was difficult, Amber calls it a relief. “I’ve guarded [my addiction] so privately in the public, so it was like kind of really exposing myself. This is really who Amber Valletta is.”
Amber hopes that speaking out will encourage people to be honest about their problems, and give people hope that they too can overcome their issues like she has. “I want to tell people they have nothing to be ashamed of, come out of the darkness, come into the light, you can recover from this disease, and you don’t have to be a prisoner to something.”
Watch the full interview below.