CBeebies' favourite Sarah-Jane Honeywell has confessed to a £50,000 cocaine addiction and revealed she was hooked on Prozac while she was presenting Tikkabilla, Mighty Mites and Higgledy House to millions of young children.
The bubbly 39-year-old former star said for a time she snorted 20 lines coke every night.
In a confession to The Sun she said: "I was a seven grams-a-night coke addict. My addiction was so bad that cocaine started to control my life."
Sarah worked for CBeebies between 2002 and 2008 but episodes of many of her programmes are regularly broadcast on the channel today.
She has spoken out because she believes simply telling children not to take drugs is not enough.
She argued: "We tell young people all the time, 'Don't do drugs, don't do drugs'. But we don't tell them why.
"Up until falling off the wagon at 24, I was a total good girl. I didn't even drink. I had an ideal family who brought me up so well - I've never even seen my parents' drunk.
"When I first entered the entertainment industry I was shocked by the number of people taking drugs. But then I saw some of those people start to do well in their careers and I questioned whether I was making the right decision.
"I came to a point in my life where I decided that I wasn't going to make judgments about anything I hadn't tried myself."
Sarah was encouraged to take the drug by a friend.
She said: "When I did my first line of cocaine, it felt like nothing. It was less mind-altering than alcohol. I started to think, 'I don't get what the big deal is'. But what I didn't realise is that cocaine is a slow burner.
"That's what is dangerous and what we forget to tell people. Over the first year of me doing it, it got worse and worse. To begin with I could do one or two lines.
"But by the end of that year I was doing seven grams a night. That's £300 worth and 20 lines. No matter how much cocaine was there, I had to finish it.
"I would split my drug supply in two and bury half of it in the garden. But by 3am I'd be out there digging up the supply and snorting it in that state."
Sarah hid her drug problem when she joined the BBC, mindful that fellow kids' TV presenter Richard Bacon was dumped as Blue Peter host after being caught taking drugs. She did not even tell her bosses she was addicted to anti-depressants.
She said: "I knew if I said to them I was proud for being clean and sober, they would have kicked me off the next series.
"But the entire time I was presenting on CBeebies I was hooked on Prozac."
She now believes all kids' TV needs to change to present a more realistic view of the world - and wants to warn kids off drugs herself.
She said: "When we're children, we're presented with this perfect world where nobody messes up.
"On CBeebies, the world is perfect. But that simply isn't the case.
"When I found myself in a bad world, I didn't know how to deal with it because I grew up in a perfect world.
"Some children who started watching me when they were five are now 15. I think it's really important for them to know that people do drugs and drugs are out there, even though they are illegal.
"I want to tell kids, 'Don't do drugs, not because they are illegal - but because they will destroy part of you'."
She revealed: "I am still £50,000 in debt from the drugs. I was spending £1,000 a week on drugs for two years straight.
"I bought a flat before I started to take drugs. That's now had to be remortgaged. But there's no way I'm going to be declared bankrupt – it's the easy way out."
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