Addiction to alcohol doesn’t exclude famous people. For years, maybe since Hollywood exists, we’ve heard the countless stories of actors and actresses struggling with addiction to drugs and alcohol. Many of them fought back and became successful creators in their industries, but others, like Amy Winehouse, lost their lives struggling with substance abuse. Let’s go down the memory lane of some famous alcoholics with inspiring stories that are worth sharing.
World-famous novelist and director Stephen King has had his fair share of drugs and alcohol abuse. It wasn’t until 1987 that his family and friends’ stages and intervention prompted King to seek help for his alcoholism and drug addiction. King has been open about his struggles ever since. He talks about the regrets and how he struggles with a “thing in AA, that talks about ‘the promises.’ He goes on and says, “Most of those promises have come true in my life. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. And I have no wish to shut the door on the past. I have been pretty upfront about my past. But do I regret it? I do. I do. I regret the necessity.”
Samuel L. Jackson
A highly successful actor that has appeared in over a hundred films. Yet, at one point, Samuel L. Jackson was a functioning alcoholic. During most of his early career as a stage actor, he confesses to being under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He eventually won the battle against addiction. However, he jokes about how life can sometimes play jokes on you. After leaving rehab, his first role was as a cocaine addict; the film and his acting launched his cinematic career.
Like so many child actors growing up in the industry, the Harry Potter series’s beloved star also struggled with addiction. In 2012, during an interview, he shared how he realized he noticed “the drinking was unhealthy and damaging to my body and my social life.” He admits drinking on the set and how he eventually found the strength to come clear to co-star Gary Oldman who’d also been addicted to alcohol.
Despite being sober today, Radcliffe admits maintaining sobriety isn’t easy, especially as he attends plenty of events where there’s alcohol. He stated in the same interview, “I had to stop myself. And stopping has shown me a world of happiness that I didn’t think was possible.”
One of the most famous actors in Hollywood, he’s been public about struggling with alcoholism for most of his adult life. In 2009, he was arrested for driving under the influence. He was even arrested in 2006 based on suspected drunk driving. For Mel Gibson, the consequences of his alcoholism were real. Eventually, Gibson found the strength to seek professional help and checked himself into alcohol rehab. In an interview, he shares a motto that he keeps close to his heart: “They say there are only three options: You go insane, you die, or you quit.”
Bradley Cooper is known for his comedy roles. But, like most of us, Cooper’s life has also had its fair share of ups and downs. He’s been sober and celebrated over ten years of sobriety recently. In Cooper’s words, “I wouldn’t have been able to have access to myself or other people, or even been able to take in other people if I hadn’t changed my life. I would never have been able to have the relationships that I do. I would never have been able to take care of my father the way I did when he was sick. So many things.”
Former First Lady Betty Ford is an unusual name for celebrity alcoholics, but she was very open about her struggles with alcoholism and addiction to painkillers. Betty Ford made it her life’s mission to raise awareness of addiction by sharing her battle in 1970. After recovering, she established the Betty Ford Center to help others overcome substance and alcohol abuse.
More than anything, it was her description of a functioning alcoholic that still serves as a warning sign to many today. “My makeup wasn’t smeared, I wasn’t disheveled, I behaved politely, and I never finished off a bottle, so how could I be alcoholic?” In other words, don’t just look for the stereotypical signs of alcoholism. Be aware of the small signs that can indicate something is happening.
The Olympic swimmer with 23 gold medals was not immune to the effects of alcohol. In 2014, he pleaded guilty to drunk driving and spoke about his struggles with alcoholism. The athlete also shared his fight against depression and anxiety, as well as his marijuana addiction. Eventually, Phelps found help, checked into a rehab facility, started attending AA meetings, and incorporated therapy into his wellness routine to stay sober and care for his mental health.
The former Friends actor struggled with severe addiction problems while shooting the popular sitcom. It seems surprising to many to find out that Matthew Perry was struggling with alcohol problems and addiction to prescription opioids. Today, he describes those years as a memory gap. At one point, he confesses he was drinking and using drugs so heavily that he can’t remember shooting some seasons of Friends. Luckily, Matthew found help and checked into a rehab program to get sober.
Jada Pinkett Smith
Sometimes not even celebrities recognize their struggles. Jada realized she was having a drinking problem at home. These casual drinking nights were suddenly happening too often. “I found myself drinking two bottles of wine on the couch,” says Jada. One day it suddenly clicked for her, and she realized she was having a problem with her drinking patterns. “From that day on, I went cold turkey,” shares Jada.
One celebrity who’s very active in the addiction recovery community is Russell Brand who’s celebrating 16 years sober. He has a book about his recovery journey. He also has a documentary about his struggles with an addiction to heroin and alcoholism. Russell is proof that you can turn your life around. He’s been an advocate for substance abuse treatment and long-term recovery support for years.
“When I started, I took it one day at a time,” he said. “Ultimately, I found that spirituality worked for me,” says Russell.
Out of all celebrities out there, no one has been more open on social media and media outlets about her struggles than Demi Lovato. The singer and actress have always shared her journey struggling with depression, eating disorders, low self-esteem, and addiction. Her many ups and downs are proof that even celebrities battle with addiction and relapse. However, she’s a prime example of how perseverance can help you get healthy.
In 2018, her single “Sober,” was an ode to her last relapse episode and her fight to get back on track. She wrote an emotional Instagram statement about her hospitalization.
“I have always been transparent about my journey with addiction. What I’ve learned is that this illness is not something that disappears or fades with time,” she wrote. “It is something I must continue to overcome and have not done yet.”
If you’re struggling with alcohol addiction, don’t wait until it’s too late. You don’t need to be a celebrity or famous person to seek help for your addiction. Use the stories from these famous alcoholics to fuel your desire to seek help. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we can help you win the battle against addiction. If you or someone you know is battling alcoholism, contact us today to learn more about our treatment programs. Recovery is possible. You just need to be ready.