Celebrities Who Struggled With Alcoholism and Found Recovery
In 2015, over 15 million American adults over 18 years-old qualified as having an alcohol use disorder (AUD), also known as an alcohol addiction and alcoholism. That’s 6.2% of people in that age group. By far, alcohol is the most commonly abused substance in the U.S. – and celebrities are no exception. Oftentimes, they suffer outsized amounts of pressure and public scrutiny that leads to mental health disorders like anxiety and depression. These, too, can contribute to alcohol abuse as a means of coping.
Below are 10 celebrities who struggled with alcoholism and found recovery.
1. Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck, 46, attended rehab twice before he entered alcohol addiction treatment in 2018. In a post on Instagram, the Justice League actor admitted to completing a 40-day program before moving on to outpatient rehab – typically, where patients are allowed to return home, then attend treatment sessions at the facility each week. Affleck stated he hopes his openness about his illness will inspire others to have the courage to similarly seek proper treatment.
Battling any addiction is a lifelong and difficult struggle. Because of that, one is never really in or out of treatment. It is a full-time commitment.
2. Daniel Radcliffe
In a February interview, Daniel Radcliffe, 29, admitted to turning to alcohol to deal with the instant-celebrity status he’d gained as the star of the Harry Potter series. Though he loved his job, the English actor says he shut himself off from the public to escape the constant scrutiny. While he describes his personality as naturally addictive, Radcliffe credits his close friends with helping him to get help and develop new, healthier coping strategies.
People with problems like that are very adept at hiding it. It was bad. I don’t want to go into details, but I drank a lot and it was daily – I mean nightly.
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3. Edie Falco
Edie Falco, 55, has said she used her experience living with addiction to play prescription Opioid-addicted Nurse Jackie on the Showtime hit show of the same name. Falco, who is also known for playing Carmela on The Sopranos, now celebrates 25 years of sobriety from alcohol addiction. Moreover, rather than tempting her to relapse into substance abuse, Falco said playing Jackie’s character reaffirmed her journey to recovery.
I was as heartbroken as everybody else that [nurse Jackie] took that pill at the end of the (last) season. I’m also grateful that we’re portraying (addiction) the way it really is, which is irrational and so often disappointing.
4. Zac Efron
Zac Efron, 31, confesses that becoming a celebrity at such a young age pushed him to abuse drugs and develop an alcohol addiction. Efron entered rehab twice in one year, when filming Seth Rogen’s Neighbors, after failing to control his alcohol intake while on a set that was essentially a party “every single day more or less.” The Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile actor wants people to know that addiction is “a never-ending struggle” but therapy and Alcoholics Anonymous have helped change his life.
It’s impossible to lead an honest and fulfilling life as a man and not make mistakes and ‘fess up to them when you need to. But it’s especially humiliating when they happen to be so public and so scrutinized.
5. Colin Farrell
After filming Miami Vice, Colin Farrell, 43, admitted that he “didn’t want to live” due, in large part, to the stress of his drug and alcohol addiction. Rehab, however, helped completely change his life and helped him to mend relationships broken by years of substance abuse. In 2018, the Dumbo actor even went back to a $36,000 per month treatment facility for help managing substance abused cravings before he might relapse. Today, Farrell hopes the persistent stigma of addiction and asking for help will be eradicated from the recovery conversation.
It is certainly not abnormal what I went through, sadly. It is pretty much a garden variety tale of an addict, I suppose. And having an addiction and not knowing as a man what to do in a male-dominated society that puts worth and high value on emotions of alpha behaviour and pack mentalities and such.
6. Kat Von D
Each year in July, celebrity tattoo artist Kat Von D looks forward to celebrating another year of sobriety on social media. In 2018 on the 11th anniversary of her recovery from alcohol addiction, the 37-year-old artist wrote that she “hopes that someone out there in need of a way out from addiction might see this, and realize that you’re not alone.” When asked what helped her decide to seek treatment, Von D credits her art and leaving behind the “addiction to dysfunction” many musicians, writers, and artists harbor.
Looking back at my wild drinking days, I really never imagined that I would be excited about being sober. When you are on the other side of things, you have such a profoundly different perspective on life… Personally, being sober means that I operate better and I function better.
7. Tim McGraw
For Tim McGraw, 52, getting on stage to perform in the early days of his country music career required a few shots of “liquid courage.” Despite growing up in a culture of binge drinking in Louisiana, the artist said he knew he was developing a problem. Eventually, drinking became a crutch, and McGraw felt completely unable to perform without it. Identifying the excuses behind his drinking habits and resolving past trauma helped him to get sober before the start of a 2008 tour – one he later described as the hardest of his life.
It got to the point where I knew that I drank too much. I knew that it was affecting my personal relationships, it was affecting my professional relationships, it was affecting my family. It was turning me into a person that I didn’t want to be… I was at a point where I could lose everything that I had in my life, first and foremost, my family.
8. Michael Phelps
Even the most decorated Olympic athletes can struggle with addiction, including 18-time gold medalist Michael Phelps, 33. In 2014, after his second DUI arrest, Phelps entered himself into a 6-week inpatient rehab. When asked publicly if he had an alcohol addiction, Phelps responded, “I don’t know.” According to the American Psychiatric Association, using substances in dangerous situations (such as drunk driving) is one aspect of addiction. So is continuing to use despite intervention by law enforcement. The National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens blog, in 2018, wrote about Phelps’s co-occurring disorders – struggling to manage his depression while abusing drugs and alcohol.
I checked myself in because I think I was at a point in my life where something needed to change.
9. Johnny Depp
In 2016, following his divorce from actress Amber Heard, Johnny Depp says he felt he had reached a new low point in life. Then he began pouring himself “a vodka in the morning and started writing until the tears filled my eyes and I couldn’t see the page anymore.” Spending “far more” than $30,000 on wine alone, Depp, 56, soon found himself in “personal and financial ruin.” Since, Depp says he tries to focus on writing (on an antique typewriter) and his music with band, Hollywood Vampires (including bandmates Joe Perry and Alice Cooper).
I spent years poisoning myself. I was very, very good at it… It was best to stop. Now I look back and say, ‘Why? Why did I do that?’
10. Elizabeth Taylor
Hollywood legend, Elizabeth Taylor, battled an addiction to alcohol and prescription painkillers for much of her life. Often, the star would spend entire days on set too drunk to read her lines. Taylor eventually entered addiction treatment at the Betty Ford rehab center in 1983 and has said she was the first celebrity to do so. After leaving the program – 45 pounds lighter – Taylor was quoted saying, “Not being drunk is the only way I’m going to stay alive.” At 79, her failing health contributed to her death from congestive heart failure in 2011.
I feel like hell. I’m going through withdrawal. My heart feels big and pounding. I can feel the blood rush through my body. I can almost see it, running like red water over the boulders in my pain-filled neck and shoulders, then through my ears and into my pounding head. My eyelids flutter. Oh God, I am so, so tired.
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