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Paul Nicholls health: EastEnders star faced ‘deep depression’ and addiction after stroke

Paul Nicholls reflects on EastEnders on Loose Women in 2016

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Nicholls relapsed on his addiction after suffering a stroke back in 2019 that caused him to have a breakdown.

He was struck by the stroke after returning from a traumatic trip in Thailand which saw him endure a motorcycle crash that reportedly left him with cholera, malaria, dengue fever, and other infections.

At the theatre back at home, where he was rehearsing for the show Rain Main as Dustin Hoffman’s character, he collapsed and woke up 16 hours later.

Talking about the ordeal with The Sun in May last year, he said: “I knew what had happened straight away.

“The right side of my body was paralysed, I knew it was a stroke. I managed to get upstairs and ring an ambulance.”

According to Nicholls, when he reached the hospital he was told he still had “traces” from his Thailand infections in his blood.

Studies have found that viral and bacterial infections can bump up the risk of stroke by causing the arteries to become blocked up by fat and cholesterol, known as atherosclerosis.

This reduces the supply of blood to the brain, which is what causes a stroke.

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After his stroke, Nicholls would need physio for the entire year to get the right side of his body functioning again – something that took its toll on him emotionally.

Nicholls added: “I just sank into a deep depression. I sank like a stone.

“I did my physio. I went through the motions of life, but I was in bed most of the time. The whole of 2019 was basically a write-off.”

In 2020, the star then relapsed on his drug addiction. He said he pressed “the f it button”.

During his most recent relapse, he ended up in drug dens alongside people he didn’t know.

“It was horrendous. I didn’t care about myself. I wasn’t well at all,” said Nicholls.

By the end of 2020, he started visiting Narcotics Anonymous – a self-help organisation that guides people towards sobriety using the 12-step programme established by Alcoholics Anonymous.

The star says he has since avoided relapsing because of the meetings.

Nicholls added: “I have fear, which most addicts do. But I can get to a year clean again and work again.”

The star is set to join the cast of a new high school drama on BBC iPlayer next year.

Phoenix Rise, set in the West Midlands, will follow a group of teens taking their first steps into mainstream education after being excluded.

Drug addiction can harm you and those around you, so it is important that you seek help as soon as possible if you are having problems with drugs.

Narcotics Anonymous is available at 0300 999 1212.

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