For most of our lives, celebrities have been pitched as glamorous, living the high life, and able to binge on drugs and alcohol. Many of them also do. If you look up which celebrities have been addicted to painkillers, hard drugs, or alcohol, chances are, you’ll find more names than not. Unfortunately, fewer are open about their battles with substance abuse and addiction, often preferring to remain private. That’s in part, because of the chance of failure. For example, Macklemore was very public about his recovery and subsequent relapse, with his song “Starting Over”.
Eventually, 40.3 million Americans are addicted to drugs and alcohol. That means more than 1 in 10 Americans has a problem with drugs or alcohol. If you’re struggling, you’re far from alone. Hopefully, seeing stories of struggling and recovery from people you know, not for their struggles, but for their success, can help you to find inspiration, to move into recovery, or to stay there.
Drew Barrymore is mostly making headlines for her antics with kids as a single mom these days, but the Scream star has a long and often difficult past. In 2021, the actress revealed that she’d secretly gotten sober 2 years previously, after undergoing mental health treatment and rehab. That was a after a long history of rehab, with her first stint at just 13. Today, Barrymore is a lot more private about her life. That’s good, as she says it’s helping her to focus on herself and to figure herself out so she can stay clean and sober. “it’s just something I realized did not serve me in my life” Drew said of alcohol, “it’ been my quiet, confident journey”.
Barrymore’s public history of rehab, addiction, and subsequent relapse is a reminder to us all that it isn’t just having access to money that makes it possible for celebrities to recover. Instead, her mindset, goals, and desire to be clean and sober ultimately ended up allowing her to benefit from the treatment, so that she did stay in recovery.
Robert Downey Jr is one of the highest paid actors in history, but his history of drug abuse and addiction has been publicized for most of his life. In fact, the actor was struggling with drug addiction as early as 8 years old. That resulted in dramatic and public arrest, jail, and probation. Now, Downey has been sober since 2003 – which he attributes to support from his friends, family, and wife. ”I believe the most difficult situations will resolve themselves if you are persistent and you don’t give up entirely. And that’s what I never did. I never gave up.”
While Downey Jr took years to recover, he’s also a good example of how failing and relapsing doesn’t mean long-term failure. And, like Barrymore, Downey needed the right support and motivation to get and stay clean.
Johnny Depp is famous for dozens of roles across his career, but his lifelong history with alcohol, prescription drug abuse, and drug abuse came to light in his 2019 and 2020 court battles. Since then, the star has been relatively quiet about it. However, he’s openly spoken about his battle with Roxicodone – a prescription opioid. Depp also talked about early incidents with drugs and alcohol, relating to his less-than-stable home life. Depp did detox from these drugs, however, he doesn’t openly talk about recovery or treatment in most contexts.
Russell Brand is best-known as an actor and Katy Perry’s ex-husband. However, the artist is also well-known for his recovery, subsequent film about the subject, and his ongoing activism about addiction and recovery. Brand spent 4 years addicted to heroin and moved into recovery after his manager forced him. He followed 12 step and eventually, rewrote the Big Book in his own words to modernize it and make it more friendly to non-religious readers.
Today, Brand is incredibly outspoken about addiction recovery, about finding your own path to treatment, and about building a life where you don’t need drugs and alcohol. “Addicts yearn for some sense of connection that makes them feel more healed, more whole, more happy. Sharing your story with another addict, as I did in my recovery, proved vital. Nothing I said to this other person was too boring or terrible or trivial to him. He related to me — and the disconnectedness that I had always felt lifted. And so did the need to take drugs.”
Most people know of Anthony Hopkins as one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, but few know that the star once struggled with a significant alcohol use disorder. In fact, Hopkins was so bad that directors didn’t want to work with him. In 2021, Hopkins had been sober for 45 years, marking one of the longest periods of successful recovery on public record. Hopkins, who attends and still attends Alcoholics Anonymous meetings says he made the choice to “live or to die” when putting down alcohol.
“It’s been a tough year full of grief and sadness for many, many, many people, but 45 years ago today I had a wake up call. I was headed for disaster, I was drinking myself to death. I’m not preachy but I got a message, a little thought that said, ‘Do you want to live or die?’ and I said ‘I want to live.'”
Kirsten Dunst voluntarily checked into rehab at the age of 27, citing addiction to prescription medication. She was also diagnosed with depression, which she blamed on the pressure and expectations put on women in the public spotlight. Today, Dunst is presumably still sober, but her stint in rehab is public, and she’s happy to share about the fact that mental health disorders and stress often contribute to relying on drugs and alcohol to cope. And, in her case, she chose to get mental health treatment to help her to recover.
Keith Urban is one of the world’s most famous country music stars, but hist history of drug addiction and rehab. The artist suffered problems with drug addiction and alcohol from an early age, gone through multiple public stages of rehab and relapse, and is today, several years into recovery. Urban talks about how drugs and addiction took away his time, took away his ability to be creative, and was often an expression of pain, because he wasn’t sure he wanted to live. And, while Urban found motivation to recover in his wife, finding that peace and recovery is important just for yourself as well.
Millions of Americans struggle with addiction and there are millions more happy stories of recovery. Often, you can hear them if you visit local 12-Step groups like AA and NA, or SMART Recovery groups, where clean and sober members are happy to share, to offer advice, and to give you their own perspectives. If a celebrity’s success doesn’t help you find inspiration, maybe theirs will.
Good luck with your recovery.