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I was downing a bottle of vodka a day when I was just 14; X Factor BEN's booze battleSinger drank to ease his depression; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: HALINA WATTS

X FACTOR fan favourite Ben Haenow has told how he downed a bottle of vodka a day when he was just 14.

The van driver-turned-singer, 29, said he took to booze when the pressures of coming from a broken home caused him to spiral into a deep depression.

Ben's dad Mick split from mum Rosanna, 51, when he was four. She raised him and brother Alex, 31, alone and had to work three jobs to make ends meet.

A tearful Ben said: "As I got older, I couldn't handle it and used to drink a lot. I was 14 years old and just necking a bottle of vodka a day until I was sick and paralytic.

"Me and a mate would get a few bottles in and do it every night. I would stay out at a friend's house so my mum wouldn't see me like that."

While he never got help at the time, Ben now realises he was depressed. He explained: "It would be stupid to say I wasn't depressed. At the time the drinking seemed fine to me.

"It takes someone to say to you it's not normal, this isn't right, which is when you stop. But I just wanted to get off my face and forget everything."

And Ben, who grew up in Croydon, South London, admitted he was lucky not to get into hard drugs.

He added: "When we were young the big thing was glue sniffing but we didn't do that. I just preferred vodka. Physically and mentally it was bad. I was hungover and felt like s*** at school."

Describing his parents' break-up, he said: "It was a very messy split.

"For a while after it happened, we didn't see my dad at all. Then we were supposed to see him every other Sunday.

"Then it just fizzled out. We'd arrange to meet and he just wouldn't turn up.

"I started to question my self worth and asking, 'what have I done?'

"And it was really hard for my mum. She was struggling to pay for bills, sometimes we'd have three months of outstanding rent to pay. But she always hid it and she never wanted us to worry."

Ben said he was 18 when he realised he had to stop drinking to excess.

He said: "I had to stop, alcohol was ruining my life. I was throwing my life away."

Ben said his dad had been in contact more since he appeared on The X Factor and has watched him perform.

He went on: "We will need to sit down and talk through everything. It would be good to make peace with him."

Now Ben wants to win the show so he can buy his mum a new house.

Breaking down in tears again, he said: "My mum had to fend for herself with no financial help. It breaks my heart. This is the whole reason I want to do it.

"She has put herself through so much mental stress. She deserves so much better than what she has got."

halina.watts@mirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

CANDID Ben Haenow with the Mirror's Halina

RISING STAR Ben hopes to win The X Factor

FAMILY Young Ben, front, with mum and brother Alex

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 8, 2014
Words:543
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