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In the words of Cara Delevingne, "If I was continuing to go down the road I was, I would either end up dead or, like, doing something really, really stupid."
As the cover star of Vogue's April 2023 issue, the 30-year-old model and actress has opened up for the first time about getting sober after reaching a turning point in September 2022. Fans may recall it was the month she sparked public concern after being photographed shoeless at a Los Angeles airport. At the time, she had returned from Burning Man and was snapped looking disheveled and riding in an SUV with her feet dangling out the window.
"I hadn’t slept. I was not OK," she recalls to Vogue. "It’s heartbreaking because I thought I was having fun, but at some point it was like, OK, I don’t look well."
Adds Delevingne, "You know, sometimes you need a reality check, so in a way those pictures were something to be grateful for."
Looking back, the star recalled reaching a low point while quarantining during the pandemic after her breakup from Ashley Benson. "I was alone, really alone," she tells the magazine.
"I just had a complete existential crisis. All my sense of belonging, all my validation—my identity, everything—was so wrapped up in work. And when that was gone, I felt like I had no purpose. I just wasn’t worth anything without work, and that was scary,” she shares. “Instead of taking the time to really learn something new or do something new, I got very wrapped up in misery, wallowing, and partying. It was a really sad time.”
There was also filming her "super personal" docuseries, Planet Sex, and the death of her grandmother, Jane Sheffield, in April 2022. "When I heard she had died there were a lot of things I had to process because I hadn’t seen her since Christmas the year before. I was really trying to pour everything I had into work, and every night I would come back from filming and sit alone and just cry. By the time I got to the Met Ball two weeks later I was f**king exhausted," Delevingne recalls.
Still, she attended the star-studded gala -- at times shirtless -- and "went and got blackout afterwards," she says. "It was like, What am I doing? The day after, I had to travel to my granny’s funeral. It was horrible."
With her milestone 30th birthday approaching in August, she threw herself a big bash and vacationed in Ibiza, though she admitted she "barely left" the tower in the house she was staying in. As she put it, "I would just kind of lock myself in it instead."
Likening her birthday to "a funeral for my previous life, a goodbye to an era," Delevingne says, "I was going to party as hard as I could because this was the end."
As for that trip to Burning Man that followed, per Vogue, she was using unspecified substances and covered in bruises. "I would climb anything and jump off stuff…it felt feral,” she says.
“From September, I just needed support. I needed to start reaching out. And my old friends I’ve known since I was 13, they all came over and we started crying," Delevingne recalls to Vogue. "They looked at me and said, ‘You deserve a chance to have joy.'"
By the time of this Vogue interview in late January, she has reached four months of sobriety after checking into rehab in late 2022 and committing to a 12-step program. "This process obviously has its ups and downs, but I’ve started realizing so much," she says. "People want my story to be this after-school special where I just say, ‘Oh look, I was an addict, and now I’m sober and that’s it.’ And it’s not as simple as that. It doesn’t happen overnight."
While it's not a quick fix, her approach seems to be working. As she more recently told ET in February, "I'm a lot more gentle with myself and nice to myself and I think, I don't know, something's changed this year for sure."
Vogue'sApril 2023 issue is available on newsstands nationwide March 21.
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