Drug addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer of lives. No matter the gender, sexual identity, race or economic background, addiction ruins the lives of the addicted, their families, friends and the community at large. Celebrities are no strangers to the perils of addiction. The pressures and expectations of fame can lead those who are rich and famous to substances as a means of coping and escape. Like anyone else who is in the grips of addiction, celebrities struggling with substance abuse can feel trapped with no way out.
Fortunately, there are a multitude of recovering celebrities who faced their addiction head on and have substantial clean and sober time. Through hard work, those celebrities who are in recovery are proof positive that recovery isn’t just a possibility—it can be a reality. The following are a few examples of recovering celebrities.
Famous Addicts In History
Charles Dickens would retire at the end of a long day writing to puff on a hookah filled with poppy latex (narcotic opium). The man who brought us A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, and Oliver Twist. He died of a stroke, which may have been the cause of his opium use.
Ernest Hemingway won a Nobel Prize. However, alcohol was a constant companion, particularly in his later years. He summed up what many writers struggle within their profession: “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.” Drinking likely exacerbated a medical condition he had that led to mental confusion and depression. Hemingway eventually took his own life.
Edgar Allan Poe
Edgar Allan Poe is considered a major figure in the American Romantic movement, famous for his poems and stories, many of which dealt with the disturbing circumstances and depictions of death. “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore’” is perhaps one of the most well-known refrains from a poem. Like Hemingway, he struggled with alcohol dependency, using it to dull the pain of a writer’s life. Poe was found deliriously wandering the streets of Baltimore; when a concerned gentleman saw he was clearly in need of assistance, took him to the hospital where he died.
Sigmund Freud was an advocate of cocaine, recommending its use for numerous illnesses and symptoms. Freud was aware of cocaine’s uses as an anesthetic, which he regularly prescribed for his own problems with migraines and depression. He also claimed it cured a friend’s morphine addiction. While under the influence of cocaine, Freud delineated psychoanalytic theory, upon which is formed the basis of modern psychological medicine. This famous addicts life was cut short, Freud passed away of mouth cancer in 1939.
Stephen King took to substance abuse in order to deal with the stress that often accompanies high expectations. King’s choice was to mix a cocktail of cocaine, Xanax, Valium, NyQuil, beer, tobacco, and marijuana to get him through the day. He even admits he doesn’t remember writing some of his works. Thankfully, his concerned family members staged an intervention, dumping all the evidence of his addiction in front of him. In response, he went to rehab and today claims to be clean and sober.
Winston Churchill remains the face of World War II as the Prime Minister of Britain at the time. He was notorious for drinking whiskey and smoking cigars, although to say that he had a problem with alcohol may be somewhat of a misnomer. He did, however, take amphetamines repeatedly to be able to stay up and plan the war. His resilience inspired many, but the combination of a high-stress life and substance abuse likely brought on the stroke which ended his life.
Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh was persistently suffering from health issues throughout his life. His paintings such as Starry Night and Sunflowers sell for millions now, but throughout his life, his financial choices and vices left him penniless. Van Gogh suffered with chronic alcoholism. This famous addicts mind was showing signs of serious problems. While under the influence of alcohol, he cut off his own ear, and later took his own life by shooting himself in the chest.
Veteran character actor Danny Trejo grew up surrounded by gangs and drugs in Pacoima, California. His uncle was a drug dealer, and Trejo tried heroin at 12 years of age. He first went to jail at 15 for a series of robberies and drug-related charges. After a decade being in and out of jail, Trejo got sober through a 12-step program while incarcerated at San Quentin prison. Amazingly, Trejo has been sober for over five decades. In addition to his acting career, Trejo is also an intervention counselor and advocate for drug treatment.
Famous People Who Are Recovering
Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It can affect absolutely anyone – including the rich and famous. Hollywood seems like an environment rife with temptation. Drugs and alcohol permeate celebrity culture, even though the vast majority of it is hidden from the public eye. Lots of celebrities have battled drug or alcohol addiction, but many have succeeded in overcoming it and maintaining their careers. Their stories can inspire the rest of us. Here are some famous celebrities who are currently in recovery.
The iconic singer-songwriter first tried cocaine in the mid 1970’s. In an interview several years ago, John started using drugs because he felt like an outsider and wanted to feel like he was “part of the club”. This began a decade and a half slide into drug and alcohol abuse as well as a failed suicide attempt. Elton John got clean and sober in 1990 and has stayed sober since.
In the 1970’s and 1980’s he was addicted to cocaine and an alcoholic. He says that the death of his friend John Belushi pushed him to stop using drugs. In 2006, he relapsed and checked in a treatment center for alcohol abuse and has since been sober.
Jamie Lee Curtis
The legendary horror actress and star of films such as A Fish Called Wanda and True Lies have been sober for over a decade. The actress becomes addicted to painkillers after a routine operation in the 1990’s. Additionally, Curtis admitted to excessive drinking in order to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness. In 2010, Curtis was quoted as saying the following:
“My recovery is the single greatest accomplishment of my life. Without that, the rest of my life would have fallen apart… Recovery is an acceptance that your life is in a shambles and you have to change it. I was lucky, I didn’t have to
Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. is one of Hollywood’s highest-paid and in-demand actors. However, there was a period where he was blacklisted in Hollywood because of his drug and alcohol addiction. Growing up in a household where drug use was normal and encouraged, Downey grew to be a brilliant yet troubled young actor. His life and career were plagued with numerous drug arrest and stints in rehab. However, he was able to get clean for good in 2001.
Jada Pinkett Smith
Actress/musician Jada Pinkett Smith was not a stranger to drugs. She grew up in Baltimore and was raised by her mother who was struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine. While she got a major break when she was accepted into the prestigious Baltimore School of the Arts, she fell into a vicious cycle of drug use and drug dealing after graduation. Luckily, she received help for her addiction as a young adult and has been clean and sober for over two decades.
Martin Sheen, the actor in such classic films as Wall Street and The Departed, battled alcoholism but got sober in the 1980’s. He is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and he credits his religion, Catholicism, with helping him in recovery. His son, Charlie Sheen, is infamously battling addiction – a Hollywood example of how addiction can be hereditary.
Currently stars in the hit show Glee, which she has won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for. She got sober in 1991 after realizing her drinking was out of control. She talks about her struggles with alcoholism in her memoir Hyperion Voice.
Lead singer of the iconic band Aerosmith, Steven Tyler was addicted to heroin and cocaine. He used with all the members of his group, and he contracted Hepatitis C from intravenous use. In 1986 he went to rehab and got clean after an intervention. He later relapsed but has been clean since completing rehab for pain killer abuse in 2009.
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Celebrities Who Didn’t Make it out Alive
Much is spoken and written about promising artists who died at 27 years old. It is an eerie and disturbing roster.
- Jim Morrison
- Janis Joplin
- Kurt Cobain
- Jimi Hendrix
- Jean-Michel Basquiat
And countless people we’ve never had the privilege to know.
In Recovery, Everything is Possible
The stories of celebrities turning their careers and lives around in recovery are an inspiration. It can provide anyone the motivation they need to get help in overcoming their own addiction issues. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, you may feel overwhelmed and that help is out of your reach. Fortunately, the addiction professionals at Hawaii Island Recovery are just a phone call away.
Hawaii Island Recovery provides proven drug treatment programming that is effective and individually tailored to meet each client’s needs. Don’t wait another day, pick up the phone and call Hawaii Island Recovery toll-free today.