Life as a celebrity can be glamorous at times. Big paychecks and life in the spotlight can bring an enormous amount of attention, fueling adoration from fans.
But life in the public eye has unique stresses that sometimes instigate or exacerbate a substance abuse problem. And yet there are many celebrities who have overcome addiction.
The following celebrities have opened up about their experiences with a substance use disorder (SUD), including how they got on the path to recovery.
The 51-year-old actor is among those celebrities who have had very public ordeals with alcohol addiction. Affleck has sought treatment on at least four occasions since completing his first program in 2001.
He has described himself as an unwilling poster boy for actors facing alcohol addiction but has also said that he’s taken phone calls from fellow actors facing addiction, stating that helping others is a key part of the 12-step process.
Drew Barrymore became a child star at age 7 due to her role in the movie ET. Before she reached her teenage years, she was drinking and using cocaine.
Her mother sent her to a mental health facility, where Barrymore took part in a youth program for about 18 months, during which time the actor has since said she was given the tools to live a sober life.
Eric Clapton is known as one of the great rock-and-roll guitarists of all time, with a musical career that has lasted for several decades. Clapton is also no stranger to SUD.
In the early 70s, Clapton was engaged in heroin use before friends convinced him to find addiction treatment. Later in the decade, he was using cocaine and facing alcohol abuse.
After decades of alcohol and drug addiction, Clapton found sobriety in 1987 and has been sober ever since. He also started a music festival, the Crossroads Guitar Festival, with proceeds benefiting Crossroads Centre Antigua.
The actor faced alcohol and drug abuse for several years before, at the age of 29, he began addiction recovery at a rehab program. Cooper has been sober now for almost 20 years.
He told adventure enthusiast Bear Grylls on a recent episode of Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge that his experience with alcohol and drug abuse helped him in his emotionally challenging role in A Star is Born.
Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. is another actor whose battle with drug addiction was very public. Downey Jr. began using drugs at a young age after being given marijuana by his father, Robert Downey Sr.
He was arrested at least three times in the late 90s (including once when he was found in possession of cocaine, crack, and heroin) and served time in jail. He also fled treatment programs twice.
The actor enrolled in a rehab program and has now had several years of sobriety in addition to some of the biggest roles of his career, including playing Iron Man in the Marvel movies.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis first came to fame as the star of Halloween (1978), but it wasn’t until recovering from minor plastic surgery in 1989 that she began an addiction to prescription painkillers. It lasted for the next decade.
In a People interview, Curtis said that addiction runs in her family and that her half-brother died from a heroin overdose in 1994.
Curtis enrolled in a rehab program in 1999 and has been sober ever since. She first told her husband about her addiction the day she started the rehab program, and the couple is still together. Curtis attends meetings occasionally to offer help to others facing addiction.
Elton John came to fame in the 1970s with a string of hits that provided the foundation for a long-lasting musical career. The rockstar also had a 20-year-long battle with alcohol and cocaine addiction.
John also battled eating disorders, including bulimia. He received help from a program at the Lutheran General Hospital rehab facility in 1990. John has been sober for over 30 years and still attends support group meetings.
Demi Lovato started experimenting with prescription drugs like opioid painkillers, which she was prescribed for injuries due to a car crash, and Xanax when she was 13 years old.
She has also faced eating disorders and cocaine and heroin addiction. This led to an overdose in 2018 that was almost fatal when she took drugs cut with fentanyl.
She went to a rehab program in 2018 and has said that she has since been completely sober.
Matthew Perry’s recent memoir details his battle with Vicodin and other prescription painkillers and alcohol. He tells of near-death overdoses and how he eventually overcame addiction.
Perry, who has been to many drug rehab facilities, told The New York Times that recovery was still a process that he took one day at a time.
Daniel Radcliffe was the child actor who played Harry Potter throughout the course of the eight films. In 2020, Radcliffe told The Independent that the pressure of being a child star provided the genesis for his use of alcohol.
Radcliffe said that he was able to quit drinking with the help of friends shortly after the Harry Potter franchise came to a close, which was also the point when his alcohol abuse was at its worst.
He said that the fear of not knowing what he would do after the series ended caused his alcohol consumption to increase. But he has been sober since 2010.
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- The Guardian - Drew Barrymore: ‘My mother locked me up in an institution at 13. Boo hoo! I needed it’
- The Hollywood Reporter - Ben Affleck on ‘Air,’ New CEO Gig and Those Memes: “I Am Who I Am”
- The Mirror - Elton John's cocaine addiction and 20-year drug battle that nearly killed him
- The New York Times - The One Where Matthew Perry Writes an Addiction Memoir
- NPR - Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll: Clapton After 'Cocaine'
- Outlook - Demi Lovato Lost Her Childhood To Mental Abuse, Drug Addiction
- People - Bradley Cooper Says He's 'Very Lucky' to Be Sober for Almost 20 Years After Past Addiction Struggles
- People - Jamie Lee Curtis Opens Up About Opioid Addiction She Hid for 10 Years: 'No One Knew'
- People - Demi Lovato Back Home After Seeking Treatment: They Are 'Committed to Their Well-Being,' Says Source
- The Independent - Daniel Radcliffe says Harry Potter turned him into an alcoholic