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Ant McPartlin reveals the struggle through his cold turkey battle to come off ‘Hillbilly Crack’ during two month stint in rehab

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After being isolated from the rest of the world for two months, the TV star says he feels mentally cleansed and is managing his pain a lot better

ANT McPartlin has revealed his terrifying “cold turkey” battle to come off drugs in rehab.

To get him off the tramadol he had become addicted to, he was given an even more extreme drug by medics.

Dan Charity – The Sun

Ant McPartlin has revealed his struggle with going cold turkey during his two month stay in rehab

He explains: “There’s a drug called OxyContin, which is opium based — part of the heroin family. It’s a very good painkiller.

“It was decided I’d taken enough tramadol — they knew I had a problem.

“So I was put on a large dose of that when I went into rehab. Coming off that was horrendous.

“They call it Hillbilly Crack in America — I can see why, Jesus.

“My heart goes out to anybody who has been on it for a long time unaware that it’s very difficult to come off it.

“There’s irritation, scratching, sleepless nights, sweating.”

 The TV star was put on a drug called OxyContin - known commonly as Hillbilly Crack

Dan Charity – The Sun

The TV star was put on a drug called OxyContin – known commonly as Hillbilly Crack
 The TV presenter became hooked on painkiller Tramadol following knee surgery
The TV presenter became hooked on painkiller Tramadol following knee surgery

Ant’s life immediately changed as he knew he was going to finally be able to beat the drugs that had been ruining his life.

He says: “From the moment I went in there was a massive sense of relief because they didn’t have control over me any more.

“When I first went in I was so bad I was just happy to have someone looking after us.

“They changed all the meds — started managing it.”

Ant’s drinking was also assessed after his booze consumption ­dramatically increased.

He explains: “The great thing is I spoke to a lot of the medical team and I’m not an alcoholic. I was just drinking too much to numb the pain.

“It was never crazy — I wouldn’t wake up in the morning and have a drink. But it was the mixing pills with alcohol that was deadly.

 The telly star said he was using alcohol to numb the crippling pain

Vantage News

The telly star said he was using alcohol to numb the crippling pain
 The TV star spoke to Bizarre Editor Dan Wootton exclusively about his struggle through rehab

Dan Charity – The Sun

The TV star spoke to Bizarre Editor Dan Wootton exclusively about his struggle through rehab

“I’ve taken a little break from booze — I’ve done two months and I’ll do a little bit longer. But I’m looking forward to having a pint. God, yes!

“I can’t go to Australia and not have a cold one at the surf club with Dec like we normally do.

“That’s something to look forward to but I have to get well first.”

In rehab, Ant was initially left isolated from the rest of the world.

He chose to bravely reveal his decision to enter rehab to The Sun on Sunday at the very moment he went in — and was cut off from all communication or technology.

You’re not supposed to see family but I made a plea to get my dog in

He explains: “I was already in rehab when the story broke in The Sun on Sunday. I knew it would have a reaction and I couldn’t see any of it.

“But that was good — I needed to be away from everything.

“For the first few weeks it’s ­complete radio silence.

“All you do is work. You look at all the literature, sit with teams, talk about your history, how you got to this point, analyse yourself, why you want help and speak to the medical team.

“It was very hard not speaking to anyone because you worry if they’re doing all right.”

But Ant, 41, was allowed one visitor — his beloved labrador Hurley.

With tears welling up in his eyes, he says: “They allowed him to come into rehab after I’d done a month working with the team. I missed him so much.

 Ant managed to wangle a visit from his beloved dog Hurley during his time in rehab


Ant managed to wangle a visit from his beloved dog Hurley during his time in rehab

“It was decided not to see your spouse because you’re not meant to. But I made quite an impassioned plea to get my dog in.

“He stayed over for a couple of nights and lifted everybody’s spirits. The following month was more plain sailing after that.”

Just two months since starting rehab, Ant is a transformed man having dropped weight after a complete reinvention.

“I even do yoga now,” he says, laughing and shaking his head in disbelief.

“I’ve got my own yoga mat now. Christ, I’ve changed.”

He adds: “I eat well. I’ve lost a stone. I can now do non-weight bearing stuff with my legs, like pilates, weights, lots of yoga, bike and stretching.

“I’m off everything now. Just your basic paracetamol and coping with the pain. I’m still in pain but managing it a lot better.”

He is very proud of the fact he is now down to one crutch which he is decorated in the colours of his beloved Newcastle United.


ANT blames his struggles with drugs and depression on a knee injury sustained while Irish dancing.

He says: “Three years ago we were doing Saturday Night Takeaway on Tour. We ended the first half every night with Riverdance. Dec’s a lot better at it than me. Little s***!

“I’d played football and golf and the knee had started creaking.

“But the dance did the damage. The meniscus had torn. I had to go in for a routine operation. I came out and was still in pain days, weeks and months after. They injected steroids but nothing helped it. That was the start of the prescribed painkillers.

“They get rid of it then you get on with life and work.”

Ant would wear a brace and take it off to host Britain’s Got Talent. He adds: “The leg was in constant pain during the show.”

Docs then discovered he’d been walking with a hairline fracture for months. Ant adds: “It was missed in the first op. I also went back to work too early and made it worse.”

Last year Ant switched to an NHS hospital in Newcastle.

He says: “The NHS were brilliant. But the fracture had turned into a 2cm hole in the bone.

“We looked at scans and the docs said, ‘You’re a 41-year-old man but it looks like the knee of a 60-year-old.’

“At one point I needed a possible complete knee replacement. We’ve done everything possible to stop that.”

When Ant’s knee first started to flare up he was using private healthcare.

But he adds: “I don’t have any anger. These things happen.”

 Ant was in such a bad place he didn't mention his addiction and depression to best mate Dec Donnelly or wife Lisa

Rex Features

Ant was in such a bad place he didn’t mention his addiction and depression to best mate Dec Donnelly or wife Lisa

And he says: “Talking to other recovering addicts is the main thing which I’m doing in phone calls and face to face.”

Ant knows his time in rehab has changed his life.

He says: “I’m going to have to be careful with anything I take in the future.

“I can’t just take any prescription drugs — and I wouldn’t.

“That’s something I need to be conscious of and aware of for the rest of my life. I need to just keep talking about it. That’s what they tell you, ‘You’re still in recovery.’

“It’s not like it just finishes when you come out.

To the outside world Ant was the happy-go-lucky character the nation loves to see on TV.

 The 41-year-old has lost a stone during the two months in rehab

Dan Charity – The Sun

The 41-year-old has lost a stone during the two months in rehab
 Ant has praised his wife Lisa for her support during his ordeal

Getty – Contributor

Ant has praised his wife Lisa for her support during his ordeal

But behind the showbiz façade, the Geordie was in the midst of a battle with clinical depression that meant some days he would not be able to leave his bed.

Worryingly, he told no one — not even his wife or best mate.

He explains: “I wish I had done, but you’re embarrassed, aye.

“Men especially are embarrassed to say they’re depressed or going through depression.

“I have obviously now spoken to a doctor who has told me I was clinically depressed for a year.

“I would never have known that if I hadn’t entered rehab and ­tackled it head on.

“I’m a bloke from Newcastle so it’s going to be hard to speak out and ask for help.

Piers Morgan sends heartfelt message to Ant McPartlin on GMB after he checks into rehab


By Dan Wootton

ANT’S brave decision to speak out about his battle with depression won praise from Princes ­William and Harry.

The star revealed: “I woke up this morning, getting ready to come here, and was given an envelope.

“It was a handwritten note from Harry sending all of his best wishes on behalf of him, William and Catherine and telling me well done for speaking out.

“Obviously he leads the Heads Together charity, so it’s something he encourages.

“I wish I’d spoken out a lot ­earlier. But what a great time to get that letter. Brilliant. Thanks, Haz.”

Ant also thanked singer Robbie Williams for his advice.

He says: “Rob’s been amazing. He emailed on day two and we’ve been in touch throughout. I’ve known him for years – he’s been there. I’ve known him pre and post addiction. He was really insightful in his notes to me.”

Sir Elton John also left a message of support with Ant’s wife Lisa.

Ant added: “It’s quite funny having Elton on the answer machine. I’m saving that one.”

Sir Elton John also left a message of support with Ant’s wife Lisa.

Ant added: “It’s quite funny having Elton on the answer machine. I’m saving that one.”

“We do go through troubles and suffer in silence. Depression is more common than you think.”

At work, Ant managed to keep up a positive front, fitting with his reputation as an affable joker.

But he admits: “That was hard. You can still go through work and have fun yet underneath it all you’re suffering.

“I was still having great times on all the shows but the pain was there constantly.

“Coming home when you’ve finished the show and the adrenaline has died down, then you’re just left alone with it again, getting depressed about it.

“That’s when I’d reach more painkillers which would continue the cycle.”

 Since undergoing intensive ­therapy in rehab, Ant says he is a completely new person mentally

Dan Charity – The Sun

Since undergoing intensive ­therapy in rehab, Ant says he is a completely new person mentally

Ant found days off work particularly difficult psychologically.

He recalls: “When I wasn’t working there were real low points and dark moments.

“There were days where I would lie in bed and sleep all day.”

Since undergoing intensive ­therapy in rehab, Ant is a completely new person mentally.

He explains: “It’s weird, you know. Men are ashamed of the word depression.

“It’s as if you should just be able to sort it out yourself — don’t speak to anyone, I’ll get through this. You can’t. Speaking to someone is the best thing.

I’m A Celebrity duo Ant and Dec with some of their best jungle banter

“Even sometimes just verbalising something halves the problem.

“My heart goes out to anyone coming back from the serving with the Armed Forces.

“You need to speak to someone about it because it very quickly gets out of control.

“I would encourage anybody who is going through their own troubles to reach out because help is there.

“I’ve had fantastic help with my team who’ve looked after us.

He concludes: “If me speaking out helps only one person then I think it’s great.”

How to get vital help

THE Sun on Sunday is ­making a donation to a drugs charity of Ant’s choice at his request.

Action on Addiction is one of many organisations that offer advice and support to users and their loved ones.

The charity has two treatment centres, Clouds House in Wiltshire and Hope House, a specialist treatment centre for women, in London. It also runs community-based services in Liverpool and Essex.

You can contact Action on Addiction via their website, www.actiononaddiction.org.uk

Another option is the drug education service FRANK, which is particularly aimed at young people. You can call on 0300 123 6600.

The website is talktofrank.com.

Meanwhile, Adfam offers support for families of drug and alcohol users.

Visit their website adfam.org.uk or call 020 3817 9410.

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