Boy George wishes he had quit drink and drugs "20 years ago".

The 49-year-old singer has been sober for just over two years and has recently even given up smoking and he now wishes he could have got clean before hitting his 40s.

You have to keep it together for the people who love you because they're more freaked out than you are

In an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper, he said: "I wish I'd done all this 20 years ago. I wish I'd gone running with Madonna when she asked me 20 years ago. I used to say, 'I only run when people chase me.' But I get it now.

'I wanted to give up all the self-medicating things I was doing. I remember saying, 'I won't be like this at 40.' But I was. In fact, it got worse."

George - who shot to fame with his band Culture Club in the 80s -accepts his past behaviour was "self-destructive" and admits it was a tumultuous few years in his personal life which resulted in him being jailed which inspired him to overhaul his lifestyle.

The 'Karma Chameleon' singer was arrested in New York City in October 2005 on suspicion of cocaine possession and falsely reporting a burglary and was eventually sentenced to five days community service, which he carried out in August 2006, after the drugs charges were dropped.

In December 2008, he was convicted of the assault and false imprisonment of male escort Audun Carlsen and subsequently given a 15-month prison sentence - of which he served four months.

Recalling the court case, George said: "It was a major epiphany. I'd been waiting to go for trial for almost a year. I was thinking a lot about what was going on in my life, thinking, 'Come on, I need more than this.'

"The night before I went for sentencing, my mum and I listened to the Antony And The Johnsons song 'Hope There's Someone', and she started weeping. I said, 'Mum, I'm going to be fine. Don't worry. I'll get through.'

"You have to keep it together for the people who love you because they're more freaked out than you are.?I was able to get through it by telling myself the person being prosecuted and going to prison wasn't me, it was that person I was a few months ago. I had to say to myself, 'This is not who you are any more.' "