There is often so much gossip and buzz surrounding celebrities and their drug and alcohol addictions that we tend to forget those that these are real people who are dealing with real issues. Below are ten celebrities that are addicts, but who have overcome their addiction and are living full and sober lives.
Lady Gaga. This superstar says she used marijuana to help deal with anxiety, physical pain, and the stress of being a celebrity. Lady Gaga has used various substances over the years, and today, she fights her addiction on a daily basis. She says one of the most difficult things is challenging herself to be a good musician and create music without relying on substances.
“It’s wonderful to be famous because I have amazing fans,” the pop star told People Magazine. “But it is very, very hard to go out into the world when you are not feeling happy and act like you are because I am a human being too and I break, and I think there is an assumption . . . that I cannot break because I am…unstoppable. I do put that pressure on myself; I have to be high to be creative. Can I be brilliant without it? I know that I can be and I have to be because I want to live, and I want my fans to want to live.”
Brad Pitt. Actor Brad Pitt is known for his work as a movie star as well as his life as a father and family man. But this celebrity has had his struggles as well, including spending years unsure of where his life was headed and what he really wanted. He used substances to get through those times, but that only made it worse. Today, Pitt is living substance-free because of his decision to make something of his life instead of ruining it.
“For a long time I thought I did too much damage – drug damage,” Pitt said. “I was a bit of a drifter. A guy who felt he grew up in something of a vacuum and wanted to see things, wanted to be inspired. I spent years f––ing off, but then I got burnt out and felt that I was wasting my opportunity. It was a conscious change – a decision not to squander my opportunities.”
Drew Barrymore. This child star grew up in the spotlight and it caused her life to take a dangerous turn. At the age of 13, she was dubbed “America’s youngest addict” by People in 1989. The daughter of an alcoholic, Drew spent years battling her own addiction to drugs and alcohol. However, this actress remains sober today and has turned her focus to her own children, wanting to give them a better childhood than she had.
“I’m an overachiever parent, and not because I think I’m going to repeat the patterns of my parents. That’s not my fear — I’ve already broken that pattern in my life,” Barrymore told Good Housekeeping. “But having grown up in the opposite way, I’m raising my children with all consistency, all protection. This is my chance to get it right.”
Michael Phelps. Olympic swimming great Michael Phelps was arrested in 2014 for driving under the influence. He was found guilty and spent 45 days in inpatient rehab. This 18-time Olympic gold medalist was at one time viewed as unstoppable, but alcohol took away a great deal of his momentum. Today Phelps is sober and training for the upcoming Olympics, this time without the burden of alcohol.
“What I did was wrong, and I made a bad mistake. I’m looking forward to having a much brighter future than I had in the past. If I’m going to come back, I need to do this the right way,” Phelps told Swimming World Magazine. “I’ve got to put my body in the best physical shape I can possibly get it in. I wake up every day and have a completely clear head. I don’t feel like my head went through a brick wall. There are so many positives to it.”
Elton John. This singer-songwriter has had a marvelous career, but back in his earlier days, addiction threatened to take everything from him. Elton John used cocaine to help him relax and be more comfortable around people, but then it took over his life. This star got help for his addiction and remains drug-free.
“I always said cocaine was the drug that made me open up. I could talk to people,” Elton told NPR. “But then it became the drug that closed me down, because the last two weeks of my use of cocaine I spent in a room in London, using it and not coming out for two weeks. And it completely shut me down. So, it started out by making me talk to everyone and then ended up by me isolating myself alone with it, which is the end of the world, really.”
Fergie. The lead singer for the Black Eyed Peas has done her fair share of drugs. It started with ecstasy and transitioned to crystal meth, each time she was searching for a high that would make her feel better. But Fergie says she became paranoid on the drugs, and began to be delusional. Fergie has been clean for over a decade now, but still feels the stigma of being an addict.
“But I don’t care,” she told US Magazine. “For me, it’s something I went through. It’s an epidemic, and it’s important to talk about it because it’s a very, very hard thing to stop. I’m trying to get a thicker skin. I like to be aware of people’s perceptions of me, but when you put it as a priority, as a means to judging your worth, that’s when it can be dangerous.”
Samuel L. Jackson. This blockbuster star has been starring in movies for decades, but it wasn’t until he gave up his addiction to drugs and alcohol that he really began to achieve his goals. Alcohol and cocaine were substances he used regularly, including during movie productions and on stage.
“I liked the feeling of not being cognizant of what was going on around me,” said Jackson. “I was working the whole time. I rehearsed and performed on drugs. I went on stage and watched people’s eyes roll across stage and I’d go, ‘Oh, I have a line, OK got to focus on the play now.’” Jackson went to rehab over 20 years ago, and has maintained his sobriety since.
Adele. Pop star Adele grew up with an alcoholic father, and she says she turned to alcohol herself to numb the pain of her childhood. The addiction caused Adele to reach a low point when she was on stage years ago.
In Marc Shapiro’s book, Adele: The Biography, the star is quoted as saying, “I got so drunk by the time I went on at 2 a.m. I had forgotten the words to my own songs … It was the worst thing ever.” Adele has since cleaned up her act and is no longer controlled by her addiction.
Daniel Radcliffe. Star Daniel Radcliffe is known for his role as Harry Potter in the blockbuster movies, but Radcliffe struggled for years with alcohol abuse which he used to help him feel normal in public.
“Anytime I’d go out to dance, camera phones would come out,” Radcliffe told People Magazine. “That would make me very self-conscious, and what’s the easiest way to escape being self-conscious? Alcohol is a quick way of doing that.”
Radcliffe got help for his addiction and remains focused on his recovery, but still struggles with the public’s perception of him. “It becomes painful to watch your personal issues that you’ve tried to be sincere about get turned into fodder for TV gossip shows,” he said. “I was forthright about it, as you said, but once you start talking about this, that’s all you talk about.”
Zac Efron. High School Musical star Zac Efron has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, getting caught up in the young celebrity party scene. He went to rehab in 2013, and has been open about his struggle in recent years.
“I just started going, and I think it’s changed my life,” Efron told CNN. “I’m much more comfortable in my own skin. Things are so much easier now. 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. I’m a human being, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve learned from each one.”