Celebrities in Recovery [6 Stories of Change]
Recovery can sometimes seem like a lonely place, especially if many of your friends or family are “normies” who can’t exactly relate to the experiences of a sober drug addict or alcoholic. However, it may surprise you to know that you are not alone and there are actually quite a few celebrities in recovery themselves. Some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry have been to dark places in their lives due to drug addiction or alcoholism but have been able to come out on the other side stronger for their experiences. These celebrities in recovery can act as examples for everyone, whether you’re already in recovery or even if you’re struggling with addiction and alcoholism currently, that recovery is possible.
The number of celebrities in recovery goes to show that the disease of addiction does not just impact the lower-rungs of the socio-economic ladder, but that it truly does not discriminate. No matter what your life situation, addiction is something that can affect you or a loved one on a very personal and serious level. However, there is hope for anyone who is struggling with addiction and sobriety is not something that is only for the rich and famous. Many of the celebrities profiled below didn’t attend fancy treatment centers reserved for the wealthy, but programs that are available to every-day people.
Below are the stories of 6 celebrities in recovery who have been where you have and found success after living a life of addiction or alcoholism. Their struggles, and eventual triumphs, over addiction are some of the most well-known examples that while addiction is a disease, it can be overcome with treatment and support.
Celebrities in recovery: Eric Clapton –
Eric Clapton has been a famous singer and songwriter for over 50 years, having been a part of musical acts such as The Yardbirds, Cream and Derek and the Dominoes before embarking on his own wildly successful solo career.
During the 1970s Clapton developed a rather severe heroin addiction which resulted in some rather public problems. At a concert in 1971 he passed out on stage momentarily before being awoken and continuing the show. This continued on for a few years before some of his fellow musicians helped him to kick the heroin. Unfortunately, Clapton replaced his addiction to heroin for other substances like cocaine and alcohol. One of his most widely popular songs is actually entitled “Cocaine”.
His drinking and substance abuse continued for years, negatively impacting his career and his personal life. He had stints of sobriety, however he was never able to make them last long as life occurrences like divorce and tenuous romantic relationships would lead him back to drinking and drugs.
This all changed however in 1986 when his son, Conor, was born. Becoming a father gave him the desperation to truly dedicate himself to getting clean. He returned to rehab and has been clean and sober ever since, over three decades now.
Clapton even credits his sobriety and his strong support network as the two things which kept him from complete despair when the untimely death of his son occurred at only 4 years of age. Clapton is now an open and active advocate for recovery and has even opened his own substance abuse treatment program. His three decades of sobriety are a true testament to the power of recovery and everything that it can do for a person’s health and happiness.
Celebrities in recovery: Robert Downey Jr. –
While he is widely recognized for his role as Iron Man in the wildly popular Marvel film series, Robert Downy Jr. has been active in Hollywood for over 30 years. In the mid-to-late 1980s he appeared in films such as Weird Science (1985) and Less Than Zero (1987). As his career continued to progress into the 1990s however, his issues with drugs and alcohol became quite well-known in the entertainment industry.
Arrested multiple times for possession of drugs like cocaine and heroin, Downey had been through multiple addiction treatment centers, some of which were court ordered. In 1999 he was arrested for possession of drugs and a firearm and was sentenced to three years at a California State Prison Substance Abuse Facility. He ended up doing a little bit over a year in that program and when he was released he worked towards resurrecting his career. Unfortunately, he was not able to stay sober at the time and was again arrested for possession of a controlled substance. This time he was again sentenced to a court-mandated treatment program, and has been sober since July 2003.
Now one of the most recognized, and highest paid, faces in Hollywood Downy is an inspiring story for anyone who has attempted sobriety in the past but has relapsed. Downy went through many treatment programs and was a chronic relapser, however eventually his continued attempts at treatment stuck and now credits his continued spiritual maintenance as a vital aspect of his recovery.
His story is a perfect example that recovery is possible even for those who have attempted treatment and sobriety many times before. Success is always possible, as long as you don’t give up.
Celebrities in recovery: Eminem –
Eminem, one of the most widely known figures in hip hop, is also one of the more well-known celebrities in recovery. Eminem burst onto the music scene in the late 1990s and became one of the highest grossing musical artists of the 2000s thanks to albums like The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show.
During the filming of the Hollywood movie 8 Mile, which is loosely based on his life, Eminem was given some prescription Ambien pills in order to battle the insomnia that he had been experiencing. This began an addiction to various prescription medications like Vicodin and Valium which would impact his life for several years.
During his years of addiction Eminem became depressed and isolated himself, and at some points was taking more than 50 pills a day. He gained weight and developed unhealthy habits, which ultimately led to an overdose in December 2007. He was taken to the ER and detoxed from the opiates and benzodiazepines that he had developed a serious dependence on, however he relapsed a few weeks later.
Eminem eventually found lasting recovery and has been clean since 2009. He has credited his children, close friends and dedication to a healthy lifestyle to maintaining his sobriety. Eminem is now not only very open about his life in recovery, but even works to help others who are in the situation he was in earlier in life to find help and get sober.
Celebrities in recovery: Sir Elton John –
One of the most successful musicians of all time, Sir Elton John is one of the most well-known celebrities in recovery on the entire planet. Over his career, which began in the 60s, Sir Elton John has sold over 300 million records and has won numerous awards including Grammies and an Academy Award.
John developed a dependence to drugs and alcohol in the early stages of his career, suffering from a drug overdose in 1975. He continued his addiction, mostly to cocaine and alcohol through much of the 80s and eventually found lasting sobriety in 1990.
John has also had his struggles with the eating disorder bulimia, but he credits his stay at a treatment hospital in Chicago as one of the most important experiences of his life. Sober for over 27 years now, John is extremely active in the recovery community as he regularly attends 12-step meetings and helps others overcome their addictions to drugs and alcohol.
His long-term sobriety and overall success are a beacon of hope to anyone who wishes to live a sober, healthy and happy life after the darkness of addiction and alcoholism.
Celebrities in recovery: Russell Brand –
Russel Brand is a very popular British comedian, actor and radio personality who began his career in the early 2000s. He gained popularity in Great Britain in 2004 as a television host, and eventually became a huge Hollywood success in America from his work in movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek.
He is now one of the most popular comedians in both Great Britain and America, and enjoys success in the fields of movies, television and radio. However, his story is not without its adversity. Brand has struggled with drug and alcohol abuse since the 90s, including at least 12 drug-related arrests and multiple trips into rehabilitation centers.
Brand, who has struggled with heroin, as well as many other drugs has been clean since 2002 when he was caught by his agent using heroin in a bathroom stall. His agent helped him to get into a 12-step treatment program and he has been clean ever since, about to celebrate his 15th year of sobriety in December of this year.
He states that his use of things like transcendental meditation and a structured lifestyle have helped him to stay sober all of these years. Brand also is a strong advocate for recovery for others and is a patron of inpatient treatment facilities, like the one that he attended in 2002. He is also a strong advocate for the decriminalization of drug abuse, calling for it to finally be treated as a disease instead of a crime.
Celebrities in recovery: Steven Tyler –
Steven Tyler, the front man for the wildly popular rock band Aerosmith, is no stranger to the struggles of addiction. Aerosmith has been popular since the 1970s, and has been described by some as “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.” This popularity however came at a price for Tyler, their lead vocalist, as he struggled with a very serious addiction to cocaine, heroin, alcohol and other drugs during much of his career.
After is became very clear that his drug use was not only affecting the rest of the band’s work, but threatening Tyler’s life, the band staged an intervention in 1988. Tyler attended a rehabilitation facility after the intervention and was able to stay sober for 12 years. His story however goes to show that recovery from addiction is a life-long process, as he did suffer a relapse in the 2000s after he was prescribed opioid pain medications for a surgery he underwent.
Tyler re-entered recovery in 2009 after his relapse and has been sober since then. He is an extremely strong advocate for recovery and urges those who are in recovery or who are seeking sobriety to take things one day at a time.
He also often points to his relapse as a warning for those in recovery not to become complacent and instead focus every day on maintaining their sobriety. His story is also one of inspiration, and proves that even after a relapse there is still hope for sobriety.