By Ioana Cozma
Updated: 23 November 2023 & medically reviewed by Morgan Blair
Celebrities frequently battle alcohol and drug addictions. However, their journeys to rehabilitation are inspirational. This article discusses the lives of 10 famous people in recovery, showcasing their struggles and underlining their inspirational sobriety quotes.
Table of contents:
1. Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey is one of the most prominent celebrities with addiction, beginning his struggle at 8 years old when his father introduced him to drugs. Downey Jr.’s addiction escalated over the years, leading to multiple arrests and stints in rehab, severely impacting his career and personal life.
His recovery journey proves the power of holistic healing approaches. Downey Jr. committed himself to a 12-step rehab program but also pursued therapy sessions, meditation, and Wing Chun Kung Fu. This blend of physical activity and mindfulness helped the actor rebuild his physical and mental health.
“Job one is get out of that cave. A lot of people do get out but don’t change. So the thing is to get out and (…) come through the crucible forged into a stronger metal.”
“I swear to God. I am not my story.”
2. Matthew Perry
Following an accident in 1997, Matthew Perry was prescribed opioids for pain management, and this prescription marked the start of his long-term battle with drug addiction. At one point, the famous “Friends” actor point was consuming up to 55 pills per day while filming his hit TV show.
Perry details his recovery journey in his memoir, emphasizing the importance of therapy, social support, and mental health awareness. Perry suggests effective treatment must simultaneously address the condition’s physical and mental aspects. He spoke often about his battle with addiction, aiming to help others with his own story, up to his death in October 2023.
“My favorite six words in recovery are: trust God, clean house, and help others.”
3. Jamie Lee Curtis
Like other celebrities with addiction, Jamie Lee Curtis became addicted to painkillers after cosmetic surgery at the age of 35. Her addiction to opiates spanned a harrowing decade, during which she even resorted to stealing prescription medication from her sister. This period of her life was shrouded in secrecy, with her struggles largely unknown to the public.
The pivotal moment in Curtis's recovery came in 1999, sparked by a writer’s story about painkiller addiction in Esquire magazine. Jamie L. Curtis fights to destigmatize addiction, sharing her experiences and urging people with substance use disorder to confide in their loved ones for support.
“There’s great power that comes from self-declaration: This is who I am, this is what I do, and I am going to try to stop. For me to say that the reason my life is so much better is because I am sober is me controlling it. I gave up that information, specifically as a public figure, to acknowledge the reality of my life.”
4. Drew Barrymore
One of the most famous people in recovery, Drew Barrymore’s struggles began with childhood alcohol addiction at the age of 11. However, the issues escalated with cocaine at 12, followed by a suicide attempt at 13.
Barrymore’s challenging recovery journey took her through addiction treatment centers and psychiatric hospitals. In 2019, with the opportunity to host ‘The Drew Barrymore Show,’ she made a decisive turn towards sobriety. The process of recovery for Barrymore involved a rigorous regimen of detoxification, therapy, and support groups.
“Life is very interesting... in the end, some of your greatest pains, become your greatest strengths.”
5. Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe is one of the most prominent celebrities with addiction. Radcliffe used alcohol as a coping mechanism as he grappled with the immense pressures of fame and success at a young age.
Although the actor claims to have never drunk on set, he also admits to binge drinking the nights before filming. As a high-functioning alcoholic, Radcliffe eventually acknowledged his addiction and sought to overcome it.
“I change when I’m drunk. I’m one of those people who changes. (…) There is something in any person who drinks in a way that’s clearly not good for them, something that is attracted to that chaos.”
6. Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck’s alcohol addiction can be traced back to various factors, including the pressures of fame and marital challenges. The actor has discussed his struggles openly, noting that his addiction escalated around the time he was working on the film “Justice League.”
Like most famous people in recovery, Affleck’s journey was filled with periods of sobriety followed by relapses. The actor first checked into rehab in 2001, followed by additional rehab stints in 2017 and 2019. This sinuous journey proves the non-linear path of addiction recovery, giving hope to other people in rehab.
“Life is difficult, and we are always failing and hopefully learning from those failures. (…) The one thing you really need to avail yourself of the opportunities provided from that growth is the second chance. I've definitely tried to take advantage of that.”
7. Bradley Cooper
One of the most prominent celebrities with addiction, Bradley Cooper’s problems started in his 20s after moving to Los Angeles. Due to low self-esteem issues, the actor started using alcohol and drugs, specifically cocaine, as coping mechanisms.
Cooper struggled to achieve sobriety between the ages of 29 and 34, a decision that he credits with saving his career and his life. Cooper’s story is particularly inspiring because it demonstrates the profound changes anyone is capable of after committing to overcoming addiction.
8. Carrie Fisher
Fisher’s addiction to drugs began at a young age, and she struggled with various substances, including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and ecstasy. However, she typically used an opioid under the brand name Percodan.
Despite frequent bouts in rehab, Fisher faced continuous challenges in her fight against substance abuse. However, she used her platform to advocate for mental health awareness and addiction recovery.
“That moment alone is such a teachable moment because it says that no matter how badly your mental illness screws up your life and it can be very, very, very, bad you can come back from it and you can continue on with the life that you want.”
9. Elton John
Elton John battled drugs, alcohol, sex, and shopping addictions. Emotional and psychological issues, including anger problems and bulimia, further compounded these addictions. John’s obsession with his appearance and the immense pressures of his early career exacerbated his reliance on addictive behaviors as a form of relief.
The singer realized he needed to make drastic changes in his early 40s. Elton John joined Alcoholics Anonymous and committed to a 12-step recovery program, an achievement he attributes to resisting the temptations of his peers in the music scene.
“If I hadn’t finally taken the big step of asking for help 30 years ago, I’d be dead. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the people who have inspired and supported me along the way.”
10. Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift revealed her eating disorder struggles in the Netflix documentary ‘Miss Americana.’ Swift admits her body image issues led to an addiction to exercise, called hyper-gymnasia. The singer disclosed how she would be triggered by seeing pictures of herself in the media, particularly if comments were made about her looking pregnant or if her stomach appeared too big.
These triggers led her to starve herself and overexercise as a means of controlling her body image. Swift's battle with her body image and eating habits was also influenced by comments and praises she received in the media and fashion industry. Luckily, Swift has learned to manage these triggers, leaving the starvation mindset behind.
“If you eat food, have energy, get stronger, you can do all these shows and not feel it. (…) Which is a really good revelation. Because I’m a lot happier with who I am and ... I don’t care as much if somebody points out that I have gained weight.”