Deborah Voigt Opens Up About Struggle With Addictions

By Victoria Kim 01/30/15

The famed opera singer opened up about her battles with alcohol, sex, and food in a new memoir.

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Opera singer Deborah Voigt details her struggle with addiction, from food to alcohol to sex, in a new memoir.

Call Me Debbie: True Confessions of a Down-to-Earth Diva details Voigt’s lifelong struggles with addiction, starting with food. A key moment was her first binge at age 5, when she gave in to an urge to down an entire jar of green olives, juice and all.

Her relationship with food continued to spiral out of control into adulthood, reaching a tipping point in 2004 when she was fired for being too fat to fit into a size 12 dress for a production of Strauss’ Ariadne aug Naxos at London’s Royal Opera House.

The decision incited public outrage, but Voigt understands the decision. “The problem was not that I was a little heavy. I was obese,” she told the Wall Street Journal. “There’s a difference between being a larger-than-life opera singer and what I was, a poster child for food addiction.”

The anti-diva was compelled to make a change. She used the money from the canceled performance and underwent gastric bypass surgery, which she had been considering before the ‘little black dress’ incident. “It was like the universe came together and said OK, this is what you should do. It’s time,” she said.

Voigt lost over 100 lbs. but that wasn’t the end of her addiction struggle. In the absence of food binges, drinking filled the void. “My drinking just escalated. It would be nothing for me to go through two bottles of wine, then my blackout would happen sometime around the third bottle,” she told PEOPLE magazine.

After going to rehab for her drinking in 2013, Voigt works on her sobriety every day. Voigt considered omitting mention of her “six-to-eight-month phase” of “being very promiscuous,” but realized it is a “critical element” to the idea of addictions.

“Whether it be food or clothes or gambling, I think all of us to a certain extent have an addiction to something,” she said. “I had to include that because it did feed some kind of a hole inside of me.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr