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I was an addict, now I'm a star

Playing an addict on TV came easily for Rosie - she'd once been one.

See tips on The road to RECOVERY

Rosie Osborn, 26, North Narrabeen, NSW

Standing in a dark alley, I pulled out a stash of pills. 'How much?' the addict hissed. '$50,' I answered.

Quick as a flash, he tried to snatch the tablets from me. I jumped back, just before he raised his fist.

'Cut!' the director yelled.

Playing a drug dealer in the Channel Nine crime series, Underbelly: The Golden Mile, I wanted to do the best job I could.

I was an actor performing a part, but I knew firsthand what this sort of existence was like outside the TV studios. That's because addiction used to be my life.

Growing up, I never felt like I belonged. It was my dream to be a performer, but desperate to be one of the crowd, I started smoking at 12. And at 14 I had my first alcoholic drink.

At first, I was trying fit in. But the more I drank, the more I was sure alcohol was the answer to all my problems. Drinking more and more, I fell behind in my studies and, at 14, I dropped out of school.

'I'm worried,' Mum said. But I just shrugged. 'School's just not for me,' I replied. But she knew something was wrong. However I hid my drinking so well, she never suspected it.

Instead of getting a job, I started hanging around with a bad crowd. We didn't stop at sinking bottles of spirits. Soon, I was experimenting with marijuana too. Drink and drugs quickly became the only things that mattered.

Even sharp pains in my liver weren't going stop me.

'If you continue drinking, you're not going to live past 30,' my doctor warned.

But I didn't care. I'm having too much fun, I thought.

Moving out of home, I started searching for the next high, taking everything except heroin.

As my life descended into darkness, I remembered my dream of being on stage.

It's never going to happen for someone like me, I thought.

I was an alcoholic. And a druggie. How was I going to make it as an actor?

At 18, I met Chris in a nightclub. We started dating, and a month later I discovered I was pregnant. I stopped taking drugs straightaway, but I couldn't stay away from the bottle.

Despite my dangerous habit, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Hamish, on October 25, 2003. I should've been overjoyed. But all I could think about was my next drink. Back home, I polished off two bottles of bourbon while Chris cared for our child. One day, when Hamish was a year old, I got so drunk, I passed out. 'Mummy!' Hamish screamed. When he toddled over and poured his bottle of water on my face, I knew I needed help.

Leaving Hamish with my mum, I checked myself into rehab. Mum brought him to visit every week. He kept me going.

'I love you,' he said one day.

Guilt consumed me. I'd missed so many special moments with my son because of my addiction. 'Mummy loves you too,' I replied, tears pricking my eyes.

Five weeks later, I left the clinic ready to start my life, free of alcohol and drugs.

'I'm so proud of you,' Mum smiled. And a few weeks later, I discovered I was pregnant again. This time will be different, I promised myself. And it was. I stayed clean and Zara was born on March 5, 2006.

Sadly, my relationship with Chris didn't last. But I knew it was for the best. I needed to focus on me and my kids.

Moving back in with Mum, I joined a support group for recovering addicts. Weeks of sobriety turned into months.

One of the group members, Brian Dunbar, was a great inspiration. 'I've always wanted to be an actor,' he confessed.

'Me too,' I said. 'But who'd want people like us?'

'I'm going to start a talent agency,' Brian declared.

Soon after, Brian founded Knockabouts Most Wanted - an agency for people who are looking for a new start in life.

Before I knew it, I had been cast on Channel Nine's Rescue Special Ops. Then, I won my role as a drug dealer on Underbelly.

Now, whenever I'm on set, I use what I've been through to give me inspiration for my role. But when the camera stops rolling, I leave those experiences in the past. Today, I'm clean and sober and my kids and my career are my life. I'll never go back. Unless it's in the script, of course.

The road to RECOVERY

  1. Start by admitting you have a problem.
  2. Make a commitment to stop drinking. If you're struggling, think about the costs of drinking and who you're affecting.
  3. Set goals. Cut down and work towards completely eliminating alcohol from your life.
  4. If the addiction has taken over, seek professional help from a rehab clinic, a therapist, your doctor and support groups.
  5. Support is essential, don't try to do it alone. If you are having problems with alcohol or know someone who is, visit
As told to Smita Mistry
Photo: MAMM
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