15 Celebrities Who Overcame Addiction


15 Celebrities Who Battled Back From Addiction

It's already hard trying to navigate the world as a regular person, so you can only imagine what it is like to live your live under the watchful eyes of the public.

Not only are celebrities expected to entertain us, they also have their own private lives to deal with. So when the pressure and stress becomes too much to handle, many of them turn to alcohol and drugs to cope.

Some like Amy Winehouse and Heath Ledger never managed to recover, but there are many others who battled the disease of addiction and made some amazing comebacks.

Many of them decided to use their experiences to raise awareness and advocate for recovery programs.

Here are 15 celebrities who successfully battled addiction and won:

1. Matthew Perry

"I was never high at work, I was painfully hungover" the Friends star opened up in an interview with People.

Perry struggled with a serious opioid and alcohol addiction throughout the hit show's 10-year run.

While people were falling in love with his sarcastic character Chandler, Perry was doing his best to hide his loneliness.

"From an outsider's perspective, it would seem like I had it all. It was actually a very lonely time for me because I was suffering from alcoholism," he said.

The Independent

In 1997, he entered rehab for his substance abuse, but it wouldn't be the last time.

He checked into a treatment facility again in 2001 following his struggle with pancreatitis, a severe side effect of alcoholism and opiate addiction.

Perry has since been sober, and uses his experience to advocate for non-violent drug offenders to be sent to rehab instead of jail. In 2013, he turned his Malibu home into a sober home for men called Perry House.

2. Jamie Lee Curtis

At the age of 35, Jamie Lee Curtis had plastic surgery on her eyes which kick started her addiction to painkillers.

She continued to use the drugs as well as alcohol for years to help her through some troubling times, fear of aging and "loneliness."

No one, not even her husband, knew about her dependency on drugs because she hid it so well.

ABC News

At one point, her addiction was so bad that she stole her sister Kelly's painkillers. Kelly was staying at Curtis' house while recovering from a broken bone when the incident took place.

Unable to come clean to her sister, the Freaky Friday actress wrote Kelly a letter, but she never sent it.

"I've been harboring a bad secret. I have found and taken many of your painkillers," she wrote. "I've betrayed you, and I know that you're angry, and you have every right to be. I am lonely. I take them at night to ease the pain. I was so afraid to tell you."

Curtis finally sought out help after she realized the toll her habit would have on her daughter, Anne.

She has now been sober for almost 20 years and as part of her recovery she decided to stop caring about her body so much and let her hair go grey.

When she's not busy filming, Curtis can be found volunteering as an anti-drug counselor.

3. Robert Downey Jr.

The Iron Man star's drinking and drug habit started before he reached the age of 10 after his addict dad gave him drugs to try.

From then on, it got progressively worse to a point where he became unhirable. His debauchery also landed him in the back of police cars and in jail on more than one occasion.

Once, at the height of his addiction, Downey walked into his neighbor's house while under the influence and passed out on their 11-year-old son's bed.

Sun Times National

After missing multiple court-ordered drug tests, the beloved actor was sentenced to three years in prison in 1999.

Downey only served 180 days at California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, but the actor returned to his old ways soon after.

The turning point for Downey came after his wife gave him an ultimatum in 2003.

He entered a 12-step program to kick his dangerous habit. Therapy, martial arts, yoga and meditation also aided in his recovery.

These days, he uses many of his martial arts techniques to perform his own fight scenes in his movies.

4. Eric Clapton

It's not uncommon for celebrities in the 1960s to struggle with substance abuse, but Eric Clapton's nasty addiction really started to interfere with his career.

In fact, he once performed a concert lying down on stage because he was too drunk to stand up.

"I thought there was something otherworldly about the whole culture of drinking, that being drunk made me a member of some strange, mysterious club," the legendary rock star said on The Today Show. "It wasn't until I was quite a bit older that I finally did ask for help."
Music Times

It took him two decades to finally seek help. Ironically, he found it challenging at first to make good music with a clear mind, but he managed to pull through.

Clapton has maintained his sobriety since leaving rehab, even his son Conor's tragic death at the age of 4 couldn't derail him.

The "Layla" singer has turned his efforts towards helping other people overcome addiction in many different ways. He's played benefit concerts for Alcoholics Anonymous groups and even auctions off his guitars to raise funds for treatment programs.

Nowadays he gets his high by being around the people he love.

"I don't think those big world tours are possible for me anymore, nor are they desirable, because there's somewhere else I'd rather be "” with my kids and my wife," he told NRP Music. "The home life has a lot of power for me now, and it's where I get most of my satisfaction."

5. Lindsay Lohan

Lindsay Lohan's addiction to alcohol, cocaine and Adderall led her to a downward spiral despite having a successful career as an actress and singer.

The former child star, known for her charming roles in films like Parent Trap, blamed her chaotic family life and the pressures of being a breadwinner for her addiction.

For a while Lohan denied that she was junkie, which may have been the reason why she never took her first few trips to rehab seriously.

"I've been court-ordered to do it six times," she said. "I could write the book on rehab. Constantly sending me to rehab is pointless. The first few times I was court-ordered to rehab, it was like a joke, like killing time."

She added, "I've never been a junkie, and never will be," she said. "I just like going out late to clubs with friends and listening to music. Always have done. It's not that unusual for girls of 26!"

After five attempts to get sober, a DUI charge, and tarnished reputation, it was a short stint in jail that became the wake up call Lohan needed.

After completing 125 hours of community service as part of her probation, Lohan checked into the Betty Ford Clinic for a 90-day stay.

The Mean Girls star's sixth attempt to get help proved to be successful and she has been sober ever since.

6. Daniel Radcliffe

It may be hard to believe but the seemingly innocent Harry Potter actor was drunk on set on more than a few occasions.

"I can honestly say I never drank at work on Harry Potter. I went into work still drunk, but I never drank at work ... I can point to many scenes where I'm just gone. Dead behind the eyes," Radcliffe confessed.

The British actor explained on an episode of the podcast WTF that he struggled with the idea of going back to reality after the franchise ended.

He turned to drinking to deal with his anxiety issues, but it didn't take long for him to realize it was spiraling out of control.

"I was living in constant fear of who I'd meet, what I might have said to them, what I might have done with them, so I'd stay in my apartment for days and drink alone," Radcliffe. explained.

He continued, "I was a recluse at 20. It was pathetic "” it wasn't me. I'm a fun, polite person and it turned me into a rude bore. For a long time people were saying to me, "˜We think you have a problem,' but in the end I had to come to the realization myself."

The former child actor is now completely sober and he once credited his ex-girlfriend, Olivia Uniacke, for holding him accountable when he needed it the most.

7. Russell Brand

For a good chunk of his life, heroin and alcohol were the comedian's vices.

He told Oprah that he first turned to drugs as a way of coping with "external things" during his formative years in the UK. "I'll use anything to stop myself feeling, and as a little kid I was very lonely and confused," said Brand.

Even as an adult, Brand explained that he used drugs and alcohol to escape his reality.

"Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution," he admitted, adding, " I look to drugs and booze to fill up a hole in me; unchecked, the call of the wild is too strong."

After dozens of embarrassing moments and arrests, Brand got help years ago and has been clean for over 14 years.

He speaks openly about his addiction and started a fund in collaboration with Comic Relief called Give It Up. The initiative is to raise money and awareness for abstinence-based recovery.

The actor still admits to thinking about drugs and alcohol often because addiction is a mental illness that doesn't go away easily.

8. Macaulay Culkin

The former child actor's life has been a rollercoaster.

He went from being the star of one of the best Christmas movies of all time, Home Alone, to struggling with a debilitating addiction.

Culkin was arrested in 2004 for the possession of controlled substances including Xanax and marijuana.

By 2012, rumors were swirling about his use of other drugs like heroin and Vicodin.

The actor resurfaced in 2013, probably after going through a treatment program, and he looked a lot better.

Another photo of his new look was recently circulating online and he seemed to have done a complete 180.

In a candid Reddit AMA session, Culkin explained that his susbtance use wasn't nearly as bad as the public media made it out to be.

"Yes, I consumed and imbibed in drugs in my life," he said. "Never as bad as people said. It's not really a thing in my life right now. I'm an adult. I like to drink."

9. David Hasselhoff

The Baywatch actor went from a star of a hit television show to a washed up celebrity known for his drunken antics.

Apparently, his divorce from his wife of 16 years, Pamela Bach, was the root of alcohol abuse.

In 2004, the America's Got Talent judge was charged with a DUI and entered an alcohol treatment program.

Unfortunately, it was an unsuccessful attempt at recovery.


In 2009, The Hoff's then 16-year-old daughter found him unconscious and struggling to breathe. He was treated for alcohol poisoning, and that was the wake up call he needed.

Hasselhoff picked himself up and cleaned up his act shortly after.

It's been over eight years and the reality TV judge is still sober, "I am sober today. I'll probably be sober tomorrow," he said in an interview.

10. Edie Falco

The Sopranos star had secretly battled an alcohol addiction since the start of the 90s.

"My life was an absolute mess, and after one particular night of debauchery, where I woke up"”I won't get into it. But I realized, 'Okay, I'm done,'" Falco explained.

She took on major roles on primetime TV shows while battling addiction, but it wasn't until the end of the 90s that she'd make the decision to get clean.

Daily Herald

Falco attended various 12-step programs and by the time she was cast as Carmela Soprano, she was completely sober.

The actress insists that her experience with addiction helped her career because her understanding of the struggle earned her the role of a drug-addicted nurse on Nurse Jackie.

She's also grateful that she stopped using when she did because she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, and had to go through intense chemotherapy. That would not have paired well with her old habit.

11. Michael J. Fox

Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease diagnosis at the age of 29 took a huge toll on his mental health and he used alcohol to cope.

"For a time I dealt with it with alcohol, which turned out to be a disaster," Fox told Parade magazine. "I'd always been kind of a partier, but this was the first time I was drinking in order not to feel something. It had a dark purpose."

The Back to the Future actor struggled with alcoholism for about a year before he decided to do something about it, thanks to his wife Tracy's positive influence.

In 1992 he quit drinking, and started therapy to help him better deal with his life-altering illness.

He dealt with his issues in secret until 1998, when he began to use his experience with Parkinson's to educate the public and raise funds for a cure.

12. Demi Lovato

The former Disney star admitted in her memoir Staying Strong: 365 Days A Year, that at the height of her addiction she couldn't go more than "30 minutes to an hour without cocaine."

She admitted to even smuggling some of the white substance on planes, so she could get her fix whenever she needed it.

Lovato also dabbled in some heavy drinking while she battled depression and an eating disorder.

"I'm very, very good at manipulating people and that was something that I did in my disease, I would manipulate everyone around me,' she said. 'There were times I would just continue to lie, so that everything looked OK on the outside."

In 2010, at the age of 19, Lovato came to terms with her situation after getting into an altercation with one of her backup dancers and punching them.

That same year, she entered rehab for her uncontrollable drug dependency and eating disorder.

The "Tell Me You Love Me" singer has been living a drug-free lifestyle for nearly six years.  

She is now an active advocate for mental illness and addiction, especially for youth.

13. Rob Lowe

Lowe developed an addiction to alcohol and sex when he was just a young man in his 20s.

His downward spiral resulted in a sex tape scandal in 1988. While many celebrities are guilty of this, Lowe's case stood out from the rest because the woman he was having relations with was a minor.

The scandal was the jolt the Parks and Recreation actor needed to realize he had a very serious problem.

Lowe entered rehab when he was just 22 years old and has now been sober 27 years and counting.

"Being in recovery has given me everything of value that I have in my life," Lowe told the crowd at The Brent Shapiro Foundation Summer Spectacular in 2015. "Integrity, honesty, fearlessness, faith, a relationship with God, and most of all gratitude. It's given me a beautiful family and an amazing career. I'm under no illusions where I would be without the gift of alcoholism and the chance to recover from it."

On multiple occasions, he's credited his wife of over 20 years, Sheryl Berkoff for helping him successfully battle his addiction.

14. Dave Gahan

It's not uncommon for rockers to be consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and drugs, but not all of them are lucky enough to stay alive after suffering an overdose.

In 1996, Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan died for two minutes due to an overdose, and it was the terrifying experience that finally pushed him to get help.

"The first thing I realised in the hospital was that I exited my body. I was floating underneath the ceiling and could observe exactly what was happening underneath me...I screamed that I wasn't actually lying down there but above them," explained Gahan.

When he eventually came to his sense, he got arrested for the possession of cocaine and heroin.

However, instead of throwing him in jail, he was to attend court-ordered therapy.

Gahan lived in a detoxification clinic for a year and was subjected to regular urine tests.

"For the first time in my life, it became clear to me that I am not immortal," said Gahan.

He has never gone back to using ever since.

15. Natasha Lyonne

The Orange Is The New Black actress may not be in locked up in real life, but her life really isn't too different from the character she plays on the hit Netflix show.

In 2001, she was arrested for a DUI, and also charged with mischief, trespass, and harassment.

In the following year, she was admitted to the intensive-care unit for a heart infection, collapsed lung and hepatitis C.

It was later revealed that Lyonne was battling a severe heroin addiction.

After her health scare, Lyonne sought out treatment and has been in a "really good place" since then.

It took her a few years to get to the place she is now and she swears she'll never go back.

"I spent so many years being like "˜I hate myself and [SIC] a I want to die. Now I just feel really lucky that now I have this precious thing," the Emmy-winning actress explained.

Did any of these celebrity stories surprise you? Let us know in the comments!

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.