I was spending £1k a day on cocaine and my two kids were homeless after I lost my house, reveals MAFS star Gemma | The Sun
MARRIED at First Sight star Gemma Rose Barnes has opened up about her battle with a secret cocaine addiction on the show.
The mum-of-two, who appeared on the Channel 4 reality programme last year, claims she suffered a “breakdown” as she came off the drug during filming.
Gemma, 31, said: “The first stages where I was falling apart was probably my comedown from my addiction and I should never have been on that show.
“I should never have been cast by them, certainly not. Psychiatrists could obviously tell that I was a bit of a mess."
Hairdresser Gemma signed up to Season 7 of MAFS concealing a decade-long addiction to booze – and cocaine.
As well as hoping to find the “love of my life”, she also planned to get clean during filming.
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Gemma, from Exmouth, Devon, told The Cabin Recovery podcast: “I thought, ‘I need to stop at least before I go on the show because it’s not going to be accessible.’
“But as you know with addiction you just swap one of the other. Although there wasn’t cocaine around, there certainly was a lot of alcohol in those big glass decanters."
Gemma was paired with personal trainer Matt Murray, 32, by show producers but the marriage rapidly descended into an ugly fallout, which frequently left her in tears.
She admitted: “People probably did say it to me, they said, ‘Remember it’s TV,’ and I was like, ‘F** off they’re matching me to the love of my life!’
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“It’s funny how desperate we behave when we really want something and think that it’s the best way to get it.”
After leaving the show, Gemma was spending so much money on cocaine that she lost her home – leaving her and her two sons Ozzy, 11, and Cash, five, homeless.
She admitted: “I lost my home in the middle of all of that. I became homeless through my addiction… 12 years we were in that house.
“We went to a homeless place, luckily I got back on my feet financially and I’m able to afford a beautiful home for us again.
“I can’t believe that I put them through that. I’ll never make that mistake. If I spend all my life making it up to them then I’ll be happy to do that.”
Gemma says that losing her home was a “turning point”. She sought help on the 12 Step Programme and has been clean and sober for over seven months.
But the redhead, who recently revealed her dramatic 2.5 stone weight loss after gastric sleeve surgery in Turkey, confessed that when she was “using” cocaine she didn’t care about the consequences.
She said: “There were days where I was sending a dealer a thousand pounds a day, and it was for other people, and for me.
“You are so desperate to be high and to forget everything that you’ll just keep spending money on that disgusting, dirty drug. It makes you want it more.
“You’re doing it because, like, your brain is screaming at you that you need it. My body started to get so poorly that the only time it felt alright was when I was using, so what a world away I am now. But it’s easy to forget those times.
“Your body aches, and physically you feel sick at the thought of doing it, and you don’t wanna do it, and you desperately want to wash those drugs away, but you can’t because it’s got you.”
Gemma reveals how the tragic death of her first love when she was 17 and a turbulent childhood triggered her drug use.
She said: “He had a motorbike accident. That was my childhood sweetheart, and after that drugs just seemed to sort of be everywhere with alcohol.
“I didn’t have anyone around to… dissect those feelings.
“I was always like looking for like a bit of my partner that died in other people. Now I feel really sorry for my younger self that I thought that could be a coping mechanism for my grief.
“The drug scene where I lived, even now, I could get a like a gram of coke easier then I could get a pint of milk.”
She bravely opens up saying: “I went to live in a homeless hostel when my boyfriend passed away. I was 17.”
She says she longed to be a mum, but when she fell pregnant at 19 with her eldest son, Ozzy, now 11, it didn’t turn out to be the secure family unit she had always dreamed of.
“I met my eldest son’s father on the drug scene. I was just partying hard. He made the decision not to be involved. I was on my own with a baby.
“You think, 'I'm not an addict', but I certainly was addicted to my time with him … never really comprehending that the time we were emotionally open and available to each other was when there were drugs involved.
“For 10 years every relationship I had there was always drugs around and alcohol.”
She went on to have a second son, Cash, 5, but split from his dad a week before lockdown and spiralled into heavier addiction during the long and lonely months in isolation.
“It came for me big. I had a lot of money, and that's when it went downhill. I couldn't stop.”
At her lowest, after appearing on MAFS, Gemma suffered from a cocaine psychosis, a psychotic state which can consist of paranoia, hallucinations and delusions.
She told podcast host Hunter Michael Shepard: “I had psychosis… from cocaine. I couldn’t take the slightest bit of criticism. Somebody said something about me … and I had a full breakdown.”
Now Gemma is in recovery and excited about her future. She owns successful hairdressing salon Gem Rose Hair, lives a “healthy lifestyle” and has vowed to only date someone sober in the future. But she admits recovery hasn’t been easy.
She relapsed after 30 days. “So I was like, ‘No more cocaine? I'll have a glass of wine.
“I had to ring people from the group and they're like, ‘You are not clean. You've had a glass of wine. It's a drug. You have to start again.’ I was fuming. But I'm glad that I did those 30 days and that I relapsed because now I know that is what happens. I know that's not an option.
“If I used, again, it (would be) jails, institutions, and death. I’d a hundred per cent be dead. I would not survive a relapse because of my mentality and the fact that I don't have a cut-off point. It's just not an option and I'll always be an addict. I'm grateful to be in recovery.
“There's no shame in relapse. It's not failure. Just keep going back. If you need a rehabilitation center, reach out and tell people, and be honest with people that love you because they want to help you.
She added: “I really like myself again now. I love myself again. Now, I’m a good person. I got that back, and people can get that back, too.”
E4 did not wish to comment when contacted by The Sun.
The Cabin Addiction Recovery Podcast with Hunter Michael Shepard and recovering addict Gemma Rose Barnes can be viewed on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlUtXTZ2V5A
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Frank offers confidential advice about drugs and addiction (email fra[email protected], message 82111 or call 0300 123 6600) or the NHS has information about getting help.
If you have been affected by any issues in this article, please call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit www.samaritans.org
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