Waterloo Road star Richard Mylan has revealed he had a 20-year battle with heroin addiction – and it was one of the "biggest mistakes" he ever made.
The actor, who played deputy headteacher Simon Lowsley in the hit BBC school series, said he used to be a "functioning professional addict who kept his addiction a secret.
Richard, 48, told the BBC he could be giving a "career-ending interview" but he didn't care.
He said he began taking illegal drugs at the start of his acting career during his theatre stint on the West End and suffered from "crippling anxiety".
The Welsh actor recalled his addiction starting after "one night of weakness" after a "few drinks".
He went on to suffer a "cycle of abuse", but the star reached his "absolute lowest" when spiralling between absuing drugs and trying to get clean.
He told BBC Wales: "It was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made," as he opened up in a bid to help tackle the stigma around heroin abuse.
Richard, who is a father of two, said: "My personal relationships suffered, my work relationships suffered and it robbed me of my inner ambition".
He also said: "Addiction can never lift you from where you need to go" and that it 'robs people of themselves'.
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He said the drug "chaos" took "chunks of [his] life away", but he's now been in recovery for 10 years with the "unconditional support" of his wife Tammie.
Richard said he hoped to reduce stigma around addiction as many people out there would "never" come forward with their own struggles.
He said: "There are so many people out there who would never ever come forward because the stigma is so great".
On speaking out, he added: "What I care about is challenging our empathy response as a society."
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The actor has also starred in The Bill and alongside Sheridan Smith in BBC Three series, Grownups.
Richard is working with south Wales-based charity Adferiad, which supports nearly 16,000 vulnerable people every year.
He urged addicts: "Don't be scared about plugging in to support as they just want what's best for you. That is the reason why I am a successful recovering addict."
It comes as a new series of Waterloo Road has been confirmed, with the return of past stars like Adam Thomas and Katie Griffiths reprising their roles.
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