Addiction doesn’t discriminate. Regardless of your race, gender, or socioeconomic status, no one is immune from this disease — even celebrities. Like so many people, countless public figures have suffered from addiction throughout their lives.
For celebrities who have spent most of their lives in the spotlight, many were exposed to drugs and alcohol at an early age, putting them at increased risk for developing substance use disorders in their adult years. For others, the intense scrutiny and pressure of being in the limelight and public eye may have contributed to their addiction, along with mental health struggles. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 19.7 million American adults battled a substance use disorder in 2017.
Despite the fame and fortune that most celebrities enjoy, several stars have suffered from this devastating disease. But there have been positive outcomes for many famous people as well. Here are the top 10 celebrity rehab success stories.
1. Robert Downey, Jr.
Robert Downey, Jr., said he began using drugs as a teenager and spent most of his early career and young adulthood under the influence. In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, he had a string of arrests while using heroin, cocaine, and alcohol. He even served time in a California prison as a result.
After spending time in a rehab facility, Downey, Jr., announced in 2002 that he was recovered. Since then, he’s gone on to revive his movie career with popular movies like Iron Man.
2. Jamie Lee Curtis
After undergoing a cosmetic procedure, Jaime Lee Curtis says she was prescribed painkillers, which she soon became addicted to. She later entered a recovery program to overcome her addiction. Since her recovery, she’s been a vocal advocate in raising awareness of drug misuse and calling for changes to opiate prescription policies. She credits her recovery as her life’s greatest accomplishment.
3. Drew Barrymore
At just the age of 13, Drew Barrymore announced in 1989 that she was a drug addict. Her career launched at the young age of 6, when she was cast in the movie E.T. From there, the star says she began drinking when she was 9 years old, which progressed to using marijuana at age 10 and cocaine at age 12.
After two rehab stays, Barrymore was completely drug-free. Since then, she has enjoyed a long and successful career as an actress, producer, and TV show host.
4. Elton John
Sir Elton John began abusing drugs and alcohol early in his singing career when he first rose to fame. It wasn’t until the AIDS crisis that he was motivated to address his addictions. When his friend and young AIDS activist Ryan White passed away in 1990, Elton John said he experienced a great deal of regret for having spent so many years abusing alcohol and cocaine.
After seeking treatment in 1990, he recovered and created the Elton John AIDS Foundation two years later.
5. Nicole Richie
As the daughter of Lionel Richie, Nicole Richie spent much of your youth in the public eye. She began drinking and heavily using drugs during her teenage years. At age 18, she went to rehab for cocaine use and realized in her early 20s that she also needed to get control of her heroin addiction. Since turning 21, Nicole Richie has maintained her sobriety.
6. Steven Tyler
Rock star and lead singer of Aerosmith, Steven Tyler struggled for decades with substance abuse and prescription drug addiction. While it took him four attempts and several years to become sober, he has since stayed on the path to recovery.
7. Kelly Osbourne
Kelly Osbourne grew up in a home with family members who battled their own addictions and mental health issues. For Kelly, her addiction to drugs began as a teenager when she started taking Vicodin after getting her tonsils removed. While Osbourne went to rehab several times after multiple relapses today, she is happily sober. In her memoir, she wrote, “Now, I manage pain through creativity, friendship, and self-care. The crazier my life gets, the more focused I become on the things that make me feel good.”
8. Matthew Perry
For a decade, Matthew Perry was beloved by fans on-screen for his role as Chandler in the hit show Friends. But outside of the camera, the star was battling alcohol addiction and prescription drug use disorder. After an accident, Perry says he was prescribed painkillers and became addicted. He has since sought treatment and stated that helping others is integral to his recovery.
9. Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato revealed she grew up with a father who struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. Her childhood was riddled with drunk and sometimes violent episodes involving her father. At a very young age, she began modeling in beauty pageants and later went into acting and singing in her teenage years.
At 17, she tried cocaine for the first time and soon began drinking and abusing cocaine, and later, became addicted to more drugs. She went to rehab and became sober but relapsed. After an overdose that landed her in the hospital, she went back into rehab and maintained her sobriety.
10. Martin Sheen
Emmy award-winning actor Martin Sheen suffers from alcoholism. He mainly attributes his religion to his recovery and being an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous. He also became involved with AA to help his son, Charlie Sheen, with his addictions.
A Final Word
At Right Path Addiction Treatment Centers, we know that addiction affects us all, including Hollywood and other public figures. Alcoholism and drug addiction are not a choice but are, in fact, diseases, and we believe they should be treated as such.
If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, it’s essential to know that you’re not alone. Many others, even celebrities, have struggled with similar addictions. But there is hope. Anyone who struggles with addiction deserves compassionate and affordable care to help them stay on the long-term path of recovery.
Native of Moldova, Dr. Zhitar is Board Certified in Addiction Medicine as well as Internal Medicine and completed his training at UPMC Shadyside, Pittsburgh, PA in 2000.