The limelight has led many musicians, actors and singers down a path to self-medication. This is a less-than-ideal method of coping with the challenges that accompany fame. Marianne Faithfull may not be a household name with today’s generation, but her incredible music career is one for the history books. And her story of overcoming addiction and homelessness is truly inspiring. Fortunately for Marianne, heroin addiction wasn’t the end of her career but part of her astounding journey and subsequent comeback.
Who Is Marianne Faithfull?
Marianne Evelyn Gabriel Faithfull was born in Hampstead, London, in 1946. She shot to fame at a young age due to her extraordinary vocal talent. Her career took off in 1964 after she was discovered by Andrew Loog Oldham at a Rolling Stones’ party.
Her Dramatic Rise and Fall
She released her first album, Marianne Faithfull, in 1965 to much success. In the later 1960s, Marianne also stepped into the acting world. She appeared in films including The Girl on the Motorcycle and Hamlet.
Marianne was married to John Dunbar from 1965 to 1966 and had a son with him, Nicholas. In 1966, she left Dunbar for Mick Jagger when she was just 19 years old.
The singer had a tumultuous relationship with Jagger from 1966 to 1970. She dropped off the radar in the 70s due to her heroin addiction, which left her anorexic and living on the street.
Marianne Faithfull’s life has never been boring, but you might say it’s been nothing short of incredible. Faithfull has always kept the public on its toes. Her rise to fame in the 60s and her 1970s drug abuse struggles prefaced a comeback at the end of that decade.
Now, at the age of 74, Marianne Faithful has overcome heroin addiction and homelessness. She also beat anorexia nervosa, clinical depression that resulted in suicide attempts, breast cancer and hepatitis C. In 2020, she also managed to recover from a bout of COVID-19 that put her in the hospital. Marianne Faithfull is a prime example of the success born from overcoming your darkest days.
Marianne Faithfull: Heroin and Homelessness
While Marianne’s rapid rise to stardom was impressive, it wasn’t easy. A traumatic event at the age of 13 led to years of self-medicating because she wasn’t aware of why she was depressed.
In her 2011 interview with The Irish Times, Faithfull refers to the event that occurred when she was 13 without revealing any details, saying only,
“I can’t tell you what happened … I think by the age of 17 I’d almost forgotten. I had no idea what a poisoned chalice it was going to be. I never told my mother, I never told anybody, I just buried it forever and it only came out last year and then I realize I couldn’t live with it anymore …. until then I had no idea that I been depressed all my life, I was taking substances to mask it.”
Faithfull revealed that the memory of the event surfaced while she was being treated for an a sleeping pill addiction at a rehab center in Antigua. She suggests that it perhaps was the underlying reason for her prior heroin addiction.
Following her split from Mick Jagger in 1970, Marianne spent the next year and a half homeless. She was living on the wall of a basement apartment in Soho. She existed in a heroin-dazed state and relied on strangers’ charity to survive.
“People were compassionate and kind, and it was the first time I realized that human beings are much kinder than I thought,” Faithfull said of the kindness people showed her during that time.
At this point, the 24-year-old Marianne’s friends took her to see an addiction doctor. After this, she was registered with the National Health Service (NHS) as a heroin addict. Faithfull successfully underwent a six-month detox by taking prescribed heroin substitutes given to her at the rehab facility.
By 1979, Faithfull was back on her feet and had released a comeback album, Broken English, which received plenty of critical acclaim. However, she still struggled with addiction, and in 1985, she did a stint at a Minnesota clinic to get clean.
Marianne’s willingness to seek help for her addiction helped pave the road to her recovery. Rehab allowed Marianne to be where she is today. She’s a tough woman with an impressive discography, and her ambition has never wavered.
Her story highlights the immense benefits that can come from pursuing professional support for mental health battles. It’s important to understand how addiction treatment and counseling can help you get off the substance you’re addicted to. They can also help you work through the feelings at the root of your addiction. For Faithfull, this occurred only a couple of decades ago.
Marianne Faithfull’s Mental Health Battle
Faithfull has overcome her fair share of other mental health issues. Besides her heroin addiction and homelessness in the 1970s, she dealt with anorexia and depression. She developed anorexia while living on the streets in the early 1970s and has since recovered.
Marianne’s depression came to head with a suicide attempt at the end of the 1960s. It ultimately ended her relationship with Mick Jagger and resulted in her son Nicholas being taken away from her. Marianne says both she and Nicholas have never truly gotten past this. However, during her time in treatment at Hazeldon in 1985, Faithfull said she finally worked through “the desire to destroy myself daily.”
How She Got Help
Seeking treatment for her addictions and mental health issues gave Marianne Faithfull the ability to turn her life around. She made a comeback and has had three more decades of making music for the world to hear. Faithfull’s willingness to share her story can help others come forward and ask for help in a safe space.
“I haven’t had a day’s illness in years,” Faithfull told The Irish Times, “Physically I am strong, and emotionally I am really strong.”
You Can Turn Things Around
If you’re struggling with addiction, the team at FHE Health is here to support you through treatment and recovery. Whether you’re dealing with heroin addiction, an eating disorder or an anxiety disorder, it’s okay to ask for help. Talking about your situation is the first step in creating a plan for treatment and recovery. To learn how we can help, call us today at (833) 596-3502.