Naomi Campbell: I Fought To Go To Narcotics Anonymous Meetings

By Victoria Kim 06/14/17

The supermodel opened up about rehab, NA meetings and accepting her past at a recent women's summit.

Naomi Campbell

British supermodel Naomi Campbell was at the Fortune Most Powerful Women International Summit on Monday (June 12) where she revisited her decision to give up cocaine and the subsequent public shaming she received from the British media.

The 47-year-old, who appeared on two seasons of the drama series Empire, said in a live interview with TIME editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs that she “never ever” felt ashamed of her past drug use, and recalled the moment she’d had enough. 

“I worked so much and at the beginning I never took a break ever,” said Campbell. “Finally, I said ‘I want it to go away’ and I chose to pick up the phone and make that call and I chose the place I wanted to go.”

The supermodel and actress said she “loved” rehab. “My chore was to do the kitchen. I was treated the same as everyone else and I met all these people from all walks of life.”

However, her early recovery was marked with intrusive media coverage that included being outed by Piers Morgan, then-editor of The Daily Mirror. The newspaper published photographs of Campbell attending a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in 2001.

“When Piers Morgan outed me, he blocked everyone else’s face [in the photo],” said Campbell. “He respected their anonymity, but what about mine? So I decided to fight for my right to go to meetings. My friends told me to let it go but I couldn’t because I didn’t feel safe to go for help in my own country.”

Campbell sued Morgan and The Mirror, and ultimately won in May 2004. Now, she says, “it’s illegal to photograph someone coming out of a health care place.”

The London-born supermodel said her NA group is “amazing” and she continues to maintain her support network with fellow members. “I have many friends [there], my phone is open 24/7 and if there is anyone who wants to reach me for that reason they can. I reached out to people and people helped me. It doesn’t matter what walk of life—addiction and alcoholism doesn’t discriminate.”

As for her past, the model says she’s learned to embrace her mistakes and move forward. “I owned everything I did. Did I feel shame about certain things? Absolutely,” she said at the women’s summit. “Now I just accept [the way things are] and live in the day. I don’t know what’s going to come tomorrow and I don’t want to.”

Campbell also shared her experience with cocaine addiction with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer in a 2004 interview. “I think what is very scary about cocaine is that you start to feel too confident and you start to feel indispensable, although none of us are indispensable. You become short-tempered…Your little charm goes. The little glow in your face goes.”

She added, “I don’t blame anybody but myself. I did it because I wanted to do it. Never blame, because if you blame…you need to go back to rehab…that means you didn’t get it.”

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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