The musicians, movie stars, and other public figures we read about in magazines inadvertently forfeited much of their privacy and anonymity to be entertainers. And whether it’s because of the fast-paced, high-paying Hollywood lifestyle or some other, more personal reason, it’s unfortunately common for celebrities to develop addictions to alcohol, drugs, or even behavioral addictions.
As such, the following are several celebrities who have had public struggles with addiction, but were admirably able to overcome the disease to reclaim their lives and their careers. Some of these celebrity addicts in recovery are probably familiar while others might be surprising.
Arguably one of the most widely known actresses in the entertainment industry, Drew Barrymore was born into a legacy that consisted of both showbusiness and substance abuse. Though many will likely picture Barrymore as the adorable little girl from E.T. or as the quirky female lead of countless rom-coms like 50 First Dates and The Wedding Singer, behind the scenes the actress was struggling with intense addictions to alcohol, cocaine, and other drugs, which she confessed in her infamous 1989 interview in People magazine, a tell-all piece in which 13-year-old Barrymore explained how she had become America’s youngest addict. After a stint in rehab, the actress relapsed, attempted suicide, and landed back in rehab by the time she was just 15 years old. Although she has undoubtedly had some rough patches, Barrymore has managed to remain sober for the majority of the ensuing years. Having married an art dealer, recently become a wine-making enthusiast according to a new article in People magazine, and ventured into the realm of motherhood, it seems that Barrymore has settled into her sobriety and is thriving.
Rock legend Eric Clapton is almost as notorious for once having a $16,000-per-week heroin habit as he is known for his music. However, his infatuation with drugs was imprinted even on his music as evidenced by his 1977 single “Cocaine”. Over the course of several decades in the spotlight, Clapton has spoken rather candidly about his struggles with addiction, characterizing the early years of his career as a heroin-induced haze as the singer felt the dangerous drug enhanced his creativity. At one point he was able to kick his outrageous heroin habit, but only be replacing it with alcohol and cocaine.
During a three-year period at which Clapton’s addiction peaked, he avoided live performances of any kind and had relegated himself to remaining at home where he could have his fill of drugs and music. In fact, one of the few performances Clapton gave during that time had him performing while lying on his back on the stage. At another performance, he infamously lost consciousness and had to be revived right there on stage. Fortunately, friend and former addict Pete Townsend of The Who urged Clapton into recovery. Having had several unsuccessful stints in rehab beforehand, the birth of Clapton’s son, Conor, in 1987 was the inspiration he needed for one final round of recovery treatment, after which he was able to overcome his addictions to alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and sex once and for all.
Robert Downey Jr.
It might be difficult for many of us to see Robert Downey Jr. as anyone but Tony Stark/Iron Man—the role credited with bringing Downey Jr.’s career back from the dead—but for a period in the 1990s and early 2000s, he was almost blacklisted in Hollywood. Having been getting high since he was in high school, the actor was found to be in possession of heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, and a loaded .357 Magnum after he was stopped by police for speeding. Another public occurrence was when Downey Jr. was unexpectedly found passed out in his neighbor’s 11-year-old son’s bed. After a couple escapes from court-ordered rehab, the actor served a year of a 36-month prison sentence before a couple more arrests, culminating in the time Downey Jr. was found wandering the streets of Los Angeles, disoriented and barefoot. Finally, he was ready to check himself into rehab and get clean.
In many interviews such as one with Vanity Fair, Downey Jr. spoke openly about his prior experiences as an addict. In particular, he spoke about how he recognized what addiction was doing to his life and acknowledged his dislike of the consequences that his alcohol and drug habits brought down on him, but he repeatedly found himself not ready and unwilling to change. Robert Downey Jr. has explained that recovery requires an aggressive commitment to change and credits that strength of conviction to his success in recovery. However, much of his concern currently lies in the likelihood that he passed his disease to his son Indio Downey, a 21-year-old musician who was recently arrested for and charged with drug possession.
Jamie Lee Curtis
Reigning “scream queen” Jamie Lee Curtis is most familiar as the heroine and “final girl” of the Halloween series, which popularized the king of boogeymen, Michael Myers. However, in the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death last year due to an overdose brought on by a heroin relapse, Curtis has been opening up about her own struggles with and victory over addiction. In fact, following the aftermath of Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, the actress wrote a piece for Huffington Post in which she discussed the misguided attitude that society has about pain, wanting to numb it rather than deal with what the pain might be implying. Curtis admits to having developed an addiction to painkillers after undergoing a medical procedure, eventually using the painkillers as a “warm bath from which to escape painful reality.” However, the actress sought treatment and learned that the pain she tried to numb had been present for much of her life and that it took lots of hard work to learn to overcome that pain without resorting to numbing it with drugs. Additionally, Curtis calls her recovery the “single greatest accomplishment of [her] life.”
By now, her fans—referring to themselves as “Lovatics”—can probably barely remember her prominent presence on various Disney Channel television shows and made-for-television movies because Demi Lovato has long since shed her “Disney kid” skin. However, Lovato actually got her start in showbusiness on Barney & Friends—alongside fellow Disney star Selena Gomez—in 2002, paving the way for her 2007 Disney debut and a subsequent transition into the edgier, sexier, rocker-chick persona for which she’s known today. It might be appropriate that Lovato would wear so many different faces over the course of her career since the star admits to having bipolar disorder, for which she briefly went to rehab several years ago in order to get the condition under control.
Additionally, Lovato has spoken openly and candidly about her struggles with addiction, particularly to cocaine. Leading up to age 19, Lovato has admitted to having turned to cocaine to numb emotional pain she felt after having struggled previously with eating disorders, self-mutilations, and her bipolar disorder. Despite living in a transitional living facility for individuals in recovery at the time, the singer-actress admits to smuggling cocaine onto airplanes because she couldn’t go more than 30 minutes without using. Fortunately, Lovato enrolled herself in rehab once again, which seemed to do the trick as sources close to her have praised her for doing so well in recovery.
Let Drug Treatment Center Finder Help You
Celebrity addicts in recovery might struggle with addiction more publicly, but the disease is difficult for anyone. However, there are many resources available for individuals who are in need of treatment. If you or someone you love is suffering from chemical dependency and would benefit from learning more about recovery programming, Drug Treatment Center Finder can help. Call 1-855-619-8070 today to speak with one of our recovery specialists and receive a free consultation and assessment.