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James Argent says he ‘hated’ girlfriend Gemma Collins during drug addiction

James Argent and Gemma Collins (Matt Crossick/PA)
James Argent and Gemma Collins (Matt Crossick/PA)

James “Arg” Argent has said he “hated” his girlfriend Gemma Collins during the lowest point of his drug addiction because she refused to lie for him.

The Only Way Is Essex star appeared on This Morning to discuss his seven-year struggle with cocaine and his experience of an eating disorder.

Speaking to co-hosts Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford via video-link from his home in Essex, the 32-year-old said Collins, 39, had refused to be “an enabler”.

He said: “I really feel for Gemma because she’d had to go through so much.

“When I was deep in my addiction I would hate Gemma, I would say ‘Why are you telling my family? Why are you telling my friends? Why are you telling bosses of my TV shows? You’re going to ruin my career.’

“But she refused to cover up for me, she wasn’t an enabler, she would never lie for me, she would never cover up.

“At the time I hated her because I wanted to be left alone and get away with it.

“She gave me some tough love for sure, she was hard on me, but thank God she was.

“If it wasn’t for Gemma calling the ambulances to my house, God knows what would have happened.

“At the end of the day, I’ve put my own life, health and career at risk, but more importantly it’s what I’ve put my family, my girlfriend and my manager through.

“It’s all good making these promises but actions speak louder than words.”

Argent also said his close friend, former Towie star Mark Wright, had helped him overcome his addiction.

“Mark’s always given me tough love,” he said.

“Throughout December, he was phoning me, begging me to go to rehab and get treatment, but I wasn’t ready, I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to stop.

The Sun Military Awards
James Argent (Yui Mok/PA)

“Boxing Day, I rung up Mark and I said ‘Mark, I can’t do this any more, every time I relapse, they get worse and worse.’

“Over December I thought ‘Wow, I’m actually close to death.’ I knew that if I didn’t sort myself out, I could have potentially died.”

He said Wright and his cousin Elliott had booked and paid for him to attend rehab centres, and that he was still attending virtual session in lockdown.

Discussing his drug use, he said: “When I use, it’s never rock and roll. It’s always extremely lonely, isolated.

“Me having awful paranoia, psychosis, shivering, shaking, blood coming down my nose.

“I’m sweating, it’s just a horrific place to be in. I said after that I’ll never use again, two days later, I’m using again because it’s just crazy.”

He said lockdown had made his recovery “very difficult” because it prevented him from creating routine and being social.

He said: “It’s very difficult in lockdown and I pray for other suffering addicts out there because when you are in treatment the first thing they say to you is ‘When you go home don’t isolate. Keep being social. Don’t isolate.’

“And the day after I got home Boris announced on the telly that you are not allowed to see anyone and you have got isolate.

“It is difficult being in lockdown and recovery and I am sure there are a lot of addicts out there suffering.

“I am lucky I have got the support system. I have got amazing friends.”

He said he has been speaking to Ferne McCann and Joey Essex, who, he said, FaceTime him “every day without fail”.

Argent also did not rule out a return to reality TV, saying he would like to compete on Dancing On Ice or Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.

Speaking about the latter show, he said: “Whenever it is they start filming again, if I am in the right physical space and headspace, that could be an amazing show for me.”

– This Morning airs on ITV.

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