Winning Australian Idol helped fund Kate DeAraugo's drug addiction.

The following story discusses addiction.

Kate DeAraugo found fame overnight when she became the third-ever winner of Australian Idol aged just 18.

"It was such an amazing experience, but it was also really daunting," she tells Mamamia. "I was just this country girl who liked to sing songs and all of a sudden I'm walking down the street and having people know my name. Some people loved you and some people hated you.

"It was just a really, really crazy time in my life."

Watch this video on how Ice destroys lives. Post continues after video. 

Video via Mamamia.

Just a year later she was offered an opportunity to team up with three other young, famous Aussie singers. Together, they were called Young Divas and the point of their banding together wasn't to be a girl group, but to promote their own solo careers. 

From memory, DeAraugo says it was really "meant to be just one single and a little tour."

"But then it took off and everyone sort of scrambled," she recalls. "They said, 'Well. We're onto something here' and it just became something so much bigger."

Kate DeAraugo won Australian Idol in 2005. Image: Getty.


They released a cover version of Donna Summer's 1989 single "This Time I Know It's for Real" in May 2006, to attract attention for their tour. It peaked at number two on the ARIA Singles Chart and remained in the top ten for 14 consecutive weeks. 

"We all sort of found ourselves in Young Divas and it gave me the opportunity to do unbelievable things," DeAraugo says. "We got to sing at some iconic events, we got to tour and do all the stuff I think little girls and boys dream about when they are kids."

Amid DeAraugo's success, she began experimenting with drugs - although she admits to being addicted to both food and relationships prior to that. First, it was cocaine, then nitrous oxide and eventually, in 2009, methamphetamine, also known as ice. 


The money the singer earned at such a young age from her high-profile career helped to propel her addiction into something she says wasn't "acceptable" within her circle. 

"[The money] gave me the means to support a bigger habit quicker," she confirms. "But I think my obsession and compulsion to use drugs would have been there without the money, anyway."

Kate DeAraugo was part of Young Divas, which also included Australian Idol season one finalist Paulini, season two finalist Ricki-Lee Coulter and season three runner-up Emily Williams. Image: Getty.


Dearaugo first entered rehab at the age of 24 and in our interview, she reflects on being "so filled with ego" at that stage in her life. 

"I thought I knew better. I thought I had it all under control and I didn't want to admit or accept that I had a problem," she explains. "[In my mind] it was bad, but it wasn't as bad as all those other people I was listening to in rehab."

Looking back, DeAraugo wasn't ready to admit she was suffering from addiction because she didn't "respect" the cruelty, or the power of the disease. 

There was a turning point though, the singer says. It was pivotal. Not perfect, but a defining moment DeAraugo goes back to as the start of her recovery from addiction.

Kate DeAraugo. Image: Getty.


"It wasn't a big, loud, dramatic moment," she recalls. "But for me, it was in a really quiet moment where I just caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, during a window of sanity — because I was insane by the end of it — and I went, 'Wow. Who are you?' 

"Until then, I just knew that I had to change. I wish that day was the last day I used, but there were still some things that had to happen. But I surrendered. Surrendered to the fact that I couldn't do it on my own. I needed help to get clean and not just to get clean, but to stay clean."

And there were many bumps in the road. 

In 2017, the performer was convicted of drug possession, drug driving and weapons possession. But almost six years on, she is healthy, happy and in a bubble of love with her newborn Hudson with her partner Shannon. 

Kate DeAraugo with her partner Shannon. Image: Supplied.


Now, she's helping others by telling her story. 

"I wanted to help remove the stigma of addiction and who addicts are," she explains. "I know up until I found myself in the world of addiction that I had this preconceived idea of what addicts and who addicts are. Addiction doesn't discriminate. It can come for anybody. It can be alive in anybody and I wanted to help people understand."

Nobody, the singer clarifies, wakes up and wants to be an alcoholic or an addict and "burn their lives to the ground."

"I lost everything in addiction. I lost my job. I lost career opportunities. I didn't have any money because I was just spending it on using and I lost friendships," she says. "I lost beautiful relationships and I lost the internal things too. My morals, my values, my dignity and any pride or respect I had for myself over the years. 

"It was a spiritual death."


These days, DeAraugo is singing again and about to go on tour with a 24-piece Symphony Orchestra to perform some of Taylor Swift's greatest hits. 

Another one of her most proud moments was starting a family with her partner Shannon in December 2022, when the singer welcomed her baby boy Hudson.

"I'm really blessed," she says. "I thought that maybe I'd missed my opportunity to be a mum and to have a family of my own and it just brings me so much peace and so much joy to be a mother."

"And I'm proud," she continues. Proud every day that I get to be his mother and I get to show up for him every day as the best version of myself."

Recovery isn't a perfect, linear journey. DeAraugo wants to make that clear, but she's grateful and every single day, she is working to keep her wonderful life.

"I'm still human and some days are hard. Life is life," she says. "I lost my mother really tragically last year and it is painful. 

"But I'm just grateful. So grateful that I don't have to use a drink or a drug as a solution to my life problems anymore."

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.

If this post brought up any issues for you, you can contact Drug Aware, Australia's 24hr alcohol and drug support line. You can reach them on (08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024. 

For families and carers supporting addicts, you can find help and guidance here. If you are worried about a loved one you can reach out to the Family Drug Support 24-hour phone line on 1300 368 186.

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