A former Coronation Street star has confessed she thought she'd die after becoming hooked on heroin at 20.
Eve Steele, 48, from Manchester, played troubled supermarket worker Anne Malone between 1995 and 1998, before her character was unceremoniously killed off after being locked in a freezer at Firman’s frozen foods.
During her time on the soap her storylines took centre stage, alongside Weatherfield legends such as Kevin Kennedy, who played Curly Watts, and onscreen boyfriend Andy McDonald – played by Nicholas Cochrane.
Her successful TV career continued with roles in Spooks, Fat Friends, Doctors and Scott and Bailey, while she toured the country as a stage actress.
All the while she kept a dark secret – her substance abuse was so bad she thought she would die.
Eve was just 10 years old when she first starting drinking alcohol. She was only 12 when she started taking drugs and by 20 she had a full-blown smack habit.
Having recovered she is now channelling her ordeal on stage in the role of a drug addict desperate to beat her habit.
She will perform her show The Political History of Smack and Crack at Glasgow's Tron Theatre later this month.
Speaking to The Daily Record she revealed how she managed to turn her life around after hitting rock bottom.
It was the triggering of a happy childhood memory – her dream as a six-year-old of being a prima ballerina – that shocked her into finding the strength to transform her life.
Eve told The Record: “I was 21 and was actually staying in a flat that had been converted from what used to be my old doctor’s surgery.
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“I remember being there – my life feeling like a slow suicide. Then it struck me that I used to come to this building as a little girl.
“I started thinking about how old I must have been and what I’d been like then. I’d wanted to be a prima ballerina and, instead, here I was living not even a half life because of drugs.
“I thought of all the dreams I’d had – and none of them were to live like this. I found myself asking, ‘Is this what my time on this planet is going to be about?’”
It was a turning point for Eve, who sought medical help and was admitted to a drug treatment centre to help her detox.
She said: “I’d wanted to do something about my drug taking for a long time but it’s not about common sense and logic when you are caught up in it all.
“I’d previously attended a drugs counselling service and signed up for methadone but I couldn’t stop using drugs so had ended up with two habits – methadone and heroin. For me, for so many people, I needed to be removed from my environment for a bit.
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“That’s one of the strengths of going into a drug treatment centre and why I think it’s so important that the more detox and rehab centres there are, the better.”
Few knew that this stellar TV career was carved out despite severe troubles throughout her childhood and teen years.
The therapy sessions and counselling Eve received helped her better understand the root causes of her addiction.
She said: “I was still in primary school when I started drinking. There had been things going on at school that I didn’t tell anyone about – I didn’t know how to process it – but I’d lie in bed at night unable to sleep.
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“I’d heard alcohol made people sleepy so I started sneaking downstairs at night and having a couple of big glasses of our home brew. I can picture myself aged 10, in the kitchen, stroking the cat as I drank – my secret way of coping.
“I was about 12 when I started taking acid and ecstasy.
“I got involved in the acid house scene and I was attracted to the subculture of drugs and doing something that was wrong. It became a big part of my identity.
“I didn’t ever think, ‘What is it that makes me feel so uncomfortable in my own skin?’
“I didn’t think it was anything about poor mental health. I just thought doing drugs and drinking alcohol was brilliant.
“But the more you do, the worse you start to feel, which makes you want to do even more. That’s when I started taking heroin.
“Then you get to the stage where you are only using to stop yourself getting sick.”
Eve, who grew up in Manchester’s tough Moss Side, became involved in petty crime to help feed her drug habit.
Not close to her family, she left home at 16 and found herself living in what she describes as one horrible place after another.
Ironically, it was when she moved into the flat in a building where she had once gone for medical help that she finally came off drugs for good.
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Eve said: “It was a rough detox. I wanted to use every day and, after coming out of rehab, I would find myself going through town on the bus, hanging on to the seat, telling myself that any minute now I’m going out that door and I’m going to score. I felt I had no control over it.
“But I would reason with myself not to score today – stay clean today. I’d go to my 12 Steps Narcotics Anonymous meetings and tell people what was going on in my head.
“Gradually, the cravings calmed down. Then, one day, I was marking one year clean – a day I thought would never happen –
and I couldn’t believe it.”
Almost 30 years on, Eve still goes to regular 12 Steps meetings. She says arts, and acting in particular, gave her an escape and something positive to focus on.
She regularly teams up professionally with playwright Ed Edwards and together they set up Most Wanted Theatre Company.
Ed wrote the play based in part on his own experiences of jail and rehab and it tells the story of a pair of star-crossed lovers during the heroin epidemic at the height of Thatcherism.
It begins with the 1981 Moss Side Riots and ends on the streets of present-day Manchester.
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Eve, who helped to develop her character Mandy, says she hopes the play will spread awareness the underlying causes of addiction.
She said: “I hope our play will appeal to everyone. For people who’ve experienced addiction, I hope they will feel some identification and will enjoy seeing a life they can relate to being portrayed on stage.
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“For those who don’t know about addiction, I hope they will gain a better understanding and more empathy.
“And, for all audiences, I hope it will be possible to see how the wider political and social context affects the lives and options of individual human beings.”
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