17 Celebrities Who Have Successfully Battled Drug Addiction
We admire and look up to our favorite celebrities for the work they do. We dance to their songs and immerse into the universes of their movies. However, while idolizing them, we often forget that they are just human. They laugh, they cry, they have emotions that span outside of the fictional characters they present us with. However, being human also means that you make mistakes. Sometimes, the mistake can be a minor one, barely noticeable, but in other cases it can be life changing. Either because of stress or because of the harsh environment they found themselves into, these 17 celebrities have taken the path of substance abuse in their past; yet, they’ve managed to overcome it. Some will shock you, others will surprise you, the rest you probably already know about, but what’s common in all of these celeb stories is the inspiration. Without further adieu, here are 17 celebrities who have successfully battled drug addiction.
David Hasselhoff started his acting career as early as 1973 playing an extra in The Dean Martin Show, but didn’t become famous until 1982 for his role of Michael Knight in the TV series Knight Rider. Of course, you probably know him for his role in Baywatch or as the former judge of America’s Got Talent. Currently, the actor is clean and sober and continues his successful acting career, but in the mid 2000’s, he had to deal with alcohol and drug abuse, which got him hospitalized multiple times, ruined his image and ended up costing him his marriage. Struggling with a litany of problems, Hasselhoff managed to pick himself up, got his anxiety under control and became clean and sober in 2009. “I am sober today. I’ll probably be sober tomorrow,” he shared with the press and now over 6 years after, he holds his head high, having successfully battled alcoholism and drug abuse.
Robert Downey Jr.
Infamous for his role as Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. has become a true real life hero and an idol for millions of people worldwide. However, what most people don’t know is that in his early career the actor was heavily addicted to cocaine and heroin. At one point, back in 1996, he started blacking out and even ran naked on the streets of Hollywood chasing ‘invisible rats‘. Having been arrested for possession and with the help of his family, the actor managed to turn his life around and as it can be seen today, he’s clean, matured and more aware of what’s right and wrong. Speaking openly regarding the overcoming of his drug addiction, he said “Job one is get out of the cave. A lot of people do get out, but don’t change. So the thing is to get out and recognize the significance of that aggressive denial of your fate, come through the crucible forged into a stronger metal.” True words, indeed.
Best known for her role of Mary Jane in the 2000’s Spider-Man trilogy, Kirsten Dunst has also had major roles in a number of romantic comedies and dramas. While today the actress is clean and sober, back in 2008, when she broke up with her boyfriend at the time Johnny Borrell, the actress went into a downward spiral, which led her to drug abuse. Starting with anti-depressants, prescribed to her by doctors to help her meet some professional commitments, Kirsten went on trying heavier drugs, including ecstasy. This lead to her checking into rehab, after her concerned friends and family managed to help her see and accept her problem. Today, the actress is in a loving relationship, having successfully changed her life for the better.
A true rock and roll legend, Eric Clapton has been filling the hearts of fans with adrenaline ever since the mid 1970’s. However, as almost every infamous rock musician at the time, Eric Clapton was taken over by drug addiction. At first using cocaine just for a quick ‘pick-me up’ before performance, he became addicted and started using it multiple times per week. Costing him over $16,000 a week, his drug habit became a part of his daily routine. However, he managed to overcome it and today he’s healthier than ever. Knowing what it’s like to be addicted and how hard it is to quit, the singer made multiple donations to the Crossroads Centre for battling substance abuse and addiction in Antigua throughout the years and continues to support such causes to this day.
This might come as a shock, but the 61-year-old talk show host and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey has actually battled drug addiction before her days of fame. She confessed to smoking crack cocaine in an era of emotional turmoil. Having no sense that she deserved better, Oprah was romantically involved with a crack addict at the time, but she was addicted rather to the man, than the drug, as she explained. Even though she had stopped with the drug abuse after her relationship was over, she was involved in a second similar situation in 1985 with Randolph Cook, who said that they’ve lived together and did drugs. However, Oprah can safely say that these drug-related cases are all in the past and that she’s clear of her addiction.
A more recent and quite public case of celebrity drug addiction is the one of Britney Spears. The american signer quickly got famous after appearing on the pop stage in 1998 and her two albums Baby One More Time (1999) and Oops!… I Did It Again (2000) becoming the best-selling albums by a teenage solo artists, she was on the path of greatness. However, after pressure and stress got to her she had a nervous breakdown. Shaving her hair, she started abusing drugs, which lead to her hospitalization and put her career into hiatus. However, after dealing with her mental and emotional issues, Britney got back on track, releasing a new album, clear of any drug addictions.
Samuel L. Jackson
Today infamous for his role as Nick Fury in the Avengers movie series, Samuel L. Jackson started his career as early as 1972. Widely acclaimed for his performance in Pulp Ficition (1994) and Django Unchained (2012) among other films, the actor had problems before his fame. Working and acting as a part of the Negro Ensemble Company in the 1970’s, the actor said that he fancied himself as Oliver Reed, drinking and being addicted to drugs. With his father dying of alcoholism, the actor took it a step further with the heavy usage of drugs. “I was working the whole time. I rehearsed and performed on drugs.” As these times were hard for his wife and daughter, as he was “kind of crazy” his turning point came when he had “passed out on the kitchen floor” while cooking cocaine and his family found him. He checked into rehab and two months after had his breakout performance in the movie Jungle Fever (1991), quite ironically with the portrayal of a crack addict.
Angelina Jolie has been a true sex symbol for over a decade. Being the star of a number of movies, she was also in the public eye for a period of time, because of her relationship with Brad Pitt, and the adoption of a number of children. While her days of fame in the past decade were quite controversial in their own manner, the actress had drug addiction problems before her acting career and fame. During her early 20’s, she was addicted to cocaine and heroin for several years. However, the actress said that she “went through the heavy, darker times” and she “survived them,” saying that the was unaware of the world and completely self absorbed. Proud that she managed to battle her addictions, the actress also notes that she was in a way lucky to so.
Becoming a famous child actress, because of her roles in a variety of Disney Channel TV shows, it’s not as surprising that Demi Lovato became a drug addict in her teen years. Explaining that she couldn’t go 30 minutes without drugs and that they “numbed everything,” making her life “shambles” the singer also faced an eating disorder. However, with the help of her family and manager, she went on to check into rehab and overcame her addiction and her eating problems. Today, the singer is clean and believes her inspiring story can make her a “beacon of hope to the next generation.”
Fergie began her career early, trying out a number of options, including television hosting, acting and singing. However, she became famous as the female vocalist of The Black Eyed Peas. Debuting a solo album in 2006, the singer managed to achieve wild success, spawning over five top Billboard Hot 100 singles, three of which went to become number one. However, when she was eighteen, she became a “sex and drugs” spree, to a point where she didn’t know how many men she had sex with. The actress was also addicted to crystal methamphetamine stating that she didn’t remember why exactly she started using it, but blamed her childhood acting career and the suppression of feelings. Being an avid user of hypnotherapy, she later managed to overcome her addiction.
The life of Marshall Mathers is one filled with controversy. Having troubling childhood and becoming a successful rapper with a number of parties who hated his success, Eminem was also constantly in the public eye for his troubling lyrics and his relationship with the mother of his children. The stress and the fame drove him to the use of alcohol and drugs. “I don’t know at what point exactly it stated to be a problem,” the infamous singer said, “I just remember liking it more and more.” He said that he didn’t believe that he had a problem with drugs at first, as he wasn’t “out there shooting heroin,” but his heavy usage of Vicodin, Valium and Xanax took the best of him. Reportedly, he was taking up to 90 pills per day and in 2007 he overdosed on methadone. “The doctors told me I’d done the equivalent of four bags of heroin. They said I was about two hours from dying,” Eminem explained. The rapper managed to overcome his addiction and released the album Recovery (2010), which was heavily inspired from his inner battle with drugs. The singer was later reported to quit music, because he started using heroin, but this turned out to be a hoax.
Starting his acting career as early as 1986, Charlie Sheen has been in a number of widely acclaimed movies. In his later years, he became the highest paid actor in television for his role in Two and a Half Men, but that is also when his mental stability became an issue. Starting to live a life wilder than his character, Charlie Sheen was addicted to a variety of drugs and alcohol, which lead to him being fired and his very public meltdown. After his departure, the actor was in the public eye for quite a while, which further fueled his cocaine and heroin usage. However, since then, Sheen has managed to clean up his act.
Drew Barrymore is usually depicted as a sweet and innocent woman in her movies: always smiling, always careful, clean and sober. However, in real life, she was quite different, especially in her childhood. “I had my first drink at age nine, begun smoking marijuana at ten and at 12 took up cocaine,” the actress said in her Little Girl Lost autobiography. Having her first role in E.T. (1982) when she was just eight, it’s no wonder that the life of the actress took such a turn for the worse in her childhood years. However, being at rehab twice, once at 13 and once at 15, she managed to clean herself up and become the person she is today – optimistic, successful and happily married with two children.
Kid Cudi, an infamous musician with his own recording label, is one of the most interesting cases of celebrities battling drug addiction. As with most, his unexpected fame and fortune drove him to life filled with alcohol and drugs. However, instead of going to rehab, like most celebrities, Kid Cudi managed to beat his addictions all by himself. “You have to make a choice,” the actor said, “you just have to commit and stick with it. I stopped everything cold turkey … I didn’t go to rehab. I don’t believe in these things. Some people need extra help, not me.” Focusing on who he was before being famous, he managed to overcome his cocaine addiction and later cut booze, explaining that he now leads a completely sober lifestyle.
In the past few years, a number of celebrities have admitted to being drug addicts in their early days of fame and Brad Pitt is one of them. “I did too many drugs,” the infamous actor said, revealing that he “wanted to see things, wanted to be inspired,” but ended up spending “years f***ing off.” However, during his years of marriage with Jennifer Aniston, he made a conscious decision to change his life and clean himself up. While he did not revealed which types of drugs he was addicted to, but back in the days, it was widely accepted that when the actor played a hopeless ‘stoner’ in the movie True Romance (1993) he was actually playing his marijuana-addicted self. Being in a passionate relationship with Juliette Lewis, who was a cocaine addict, Brad Pitt was also introduced to Scientology in this period and while the actor is still considered a scientologist, he has moved on from his days of drug-filled days.
Not much can be said about the infamous singer Elton John, that isn’t already known by his millions of fans. Open to the public and having a memoir of his life, the actor admitted to being a drug addict in the early 80’s and “wasting” a big part of his life. “I was a drug addict and self-absorbed,” he said, blaming the start of his addiction to a number of his friends dying to AIDS. He explained that he felt invincible when he mixed drugs with alcohol, but he also points out to the fact that he was “the luckiest man in the world” to get out of this lifestyle HIV-negative. Nowadays, after battling his addiction, the singer explained that he is trying to make up for his “Me generation” period and that there is “so much more to be done” in regard to helping the world fight AIDS, drug and booze addiction and other similar issues.
Famous for his role in the hit NBC sitcom Friends, Matthew Perry has become one of the most recognized TV actors of all time. However, due to stress issues in the beginning of the new millennium, he started taking various opioids, including methadone and Vicodin. His addiction grew and he even went on to take a variety of amphetamines. In 2001 he entered rehab to treat his addictions, but following a jet-ski accident his problems returned. In his worst days, he was taking up to 30 tablets and mixing them with two pints of vodka. He went to state that after becoming famous he became a “spoiled Hollywood party boy” and he started to hate himself. The years after the finale of Friends, the actor suffered depression as his attempts to return to fame were not a success. However, he managed to battle his addiction to drugs and even went to turn his Malibu, California home into a ‘sober living home’ men who have cleaned themselves up and are transitioning back to a life without drugs.