Tara Palmer-Tomkinson broke down in tears as she spoke of her desire to make her family proud of her again.
The 45-year-old socialite was found dead in her beloved west London flat on Monday. She had described the property as her most prized possession.
In what is thought to have been her last interview, she told the Daily Mail's Weekend magazine of her "unending quest".
The reality TV star said it was "to make my family proud of me again. I've put them through a lot".
The nineties It-girl was admitted to an American rehab facility in 1999 for was what was reportedly a £400-a-day cocaine habit.
Speaking to the The Mirror about the interview, journalist Rob McGibbon said: "Hearing herself say such a profoundly painful sentiment made her cry. It made me well up, too. It still does."
He added: "Those words were disarmingly revealing. They encapsulated Tara's lasting regret for her past, but also her longing and hope for a better future."
In the interview Palmer-Tomkinson also said her "unfulfilled ambition" was to get back to full health.
In January last year she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and in November said that she had feared dying when doctors told her about the growth in her pituitary gland.
At the time, she also revealed she was suffering with an auto-immune disease that caused tiredness, joint pain and acute anaemia.
Asked what she would like the order of service at her funeral to be like, Palmer-Tomkinson said she would want a simple service. She said she would want to be remembered "like a Bernese mountain dog - cheerful, beautiful and loved by all".