Katie Piper: “I relied on alcohol to get me through dark times”

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Kayleigh Dray
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Katie Piper had sulphuric acid thrown into her face in 2008, causing her  to become blind in one eye; the former model was also left with horrific burns and lifelong scarring, requiring more than 300 surgical procedures. 

The inspiring philanthropist, campaigner, and TV star went on to set up a charitable organisation, the Katie Piper Foundation, to help burns victims and people suffering from disfiguring injuries.

However Piper, now 32, has revealed that, when she first began her work with the charity, it caused her to become both physically and mentally exhausted. 

Piper told the Daily Mirror that it all became “too much” - and admitted that she turned to alcohol as a means of coping with it all.

“Without meaning to, I started relying on alcohol to get me through the days,” she said.

Piper, who recently shared some photos of herself from that period on Instagram, explained that she knew she “needed to find a better way to handle the pressure” - particularly when friends started commenting on how much she was drinking.

“I noticed a pattern of feeling: ‘Oh, I want a drink,’” she said.

“Some of the people close to me told me I was so different when i was drunk. I would get like that a couple of times a week. I knew it wasn’t healthy.”

Piper began seeing a counsellor, who helped her to understand why she was drinking, and taught her to find confidence in other ways.

“Before I’d get up hungover and do my makeup in a taxi,” she said.

“Now I get up, go running, for to the gym, clear my mind. It’s about making better choices.”

Piper, who has inspired countless others to find new meaning in their lives, also ensures that she maintains a positive outlook at all times.

“There is never an end and no one ever gets to a certain point in their life and thinks, ‘Well, that’s it,’” she said. “Whether it’s career or personal, we’re always ongoing and sometimes we’re going backwards as well.

“I don’t really believe that barriers exist unless we create them and feed them.”

Piper was attacked by Stefan Sylvestre in 2008. He had been hired by Piper’s ex-boyfriend, Daniel Lynch, who is currently serving two life sentences in prison. Sylvestre, who was also jailed, is serving a minimum 12-year sentence.

Earlier this year, she gave a highly-charged and emotional talk at Stylist Live, during which she described how she came back from the brink after the attack.

“This is not a story of misery,” she told the audience. “This is a story of how strong the human mind can be.”

Piper continued: “I chose to be a survivor. Now I love my scars because they gave me my new life.

“One of the most powerful tools we all possess is human spirit. To me, that’s what radiates beauty. We’ve all been touched by it – but no one has ever been touched by the perfect skin.”

Since the attack, Piper has written five books, numerous advice columns and has appeared in TV shows, with her documentary My Beautiful Face being viewed more than 3.5 million times. 

She is now married to Richard Sutton and the couple welcomed their first child, Belle Elizabeth, in 2014.


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.