People from all different walks of life are touched by addiction. In fact, statistically, you likely know someone who has struggled with substance abuse. While addiction is prevalent in all industries, we often only hear about celebrity drug addicts as they are such high-profile individuals that they make big splashy headlines. We read about their stints in rehab facilities, their individual struggle with a specific substance, and how they ultimately overcame it. It might seem cliché for celebrities to land in rehab but they’re actually doing more good than hurt. By sharing their own recovery journey, they allow others to see themselves in the same situation.
Most celebrities could easily choose to hide their battle with addiction, but many decide to share their stories in the hopes that others also seek the treatment they need. We feel it’s sort of public service for someone who is glamorous, successful, and famous to come out with their story. We can look to them to know it can happen to absolutely anyone. No matter how rich, connected, or famous a person is, addiction just does not care. We decided to round up a list of the celebrity drug addicts who have gone on the record with their stories.
After a 2008 trip to Utah’s Cirque Lodge rehab facility, Eva Mendes spoke with Interview magazine about how Hollywood actors are overly scrutinized, lambasting the idea that going to rehab is seen as a trope of celebrity drug addicts when seeking help is exactly the best thing to do.
“People have died, and I’ve lost friends too-even recently. So I can be a little sensitive on the subject,” Mendes told the outlet about alcoholism.
“Because celebrities’ lives are so visible, I think it makes it look lighter than it is. I have a really good sense of humor, I’m just very sensitive. The other day I was reading an article. I don’t even remember who the actress was, but she’s been around for a long time. She said something like, ‘I’m proud that I’ve had a whole career without making it to rehab.’ I thought, That’s such a negative twist on it. I’m proud of people who have the determination and the fearlessness to actually go and face their demons and get better.”
Ye West AKA Kanye West has been very open about his struggles with alcohol. He is one of the celebrity drug addicts who admits to taking it one day at a time.
“I haven’t had a drink since I realized I needed to take it day by day, but I never owned up, or was even told, ‘Hey, you’re a functioning alcoholic,’” West said in a recent interview with GQ. “People have called me a crazy person, people have called me everything—but not a functioning alcoholic. And I would be drinking orange juice and Grey Goose in the morning.”
“Sh*t started to really go awry. I stepped up my drinking. I started doing more drugs. Yeah, man. The whole back end of the Nineties were just awful,” he told the magazine.
“I had plenty of stuff. I didn’t seem able to stop. There was no stopping this time. I’d go to sleep, wake up a couple of hours later, go at it again, drinking to take the edge off. I remember thinking, ‘I’m probably not going to make it until tomorrow.’ And then I thought, ‘F*ck it. I really don’t care. It’ll be a relief to not have to. I’ll take an Ambien and at some point I’ll pass.’”
Urban credits Nicole Kidman with helping him to get fully sober by staging an intervention in 2006.
One of the most high-profile celebrity drug addicts, Ben Affleck initially went to rehab in 2001 but has continued to struggle with alcohol and gambling.
“I just wanted to stop,” he told a Fox News reporter in 1998. “I started regretting some things I did when I was drunk. It’s funny to be obnoxious or out of control, but then it’s like, ‘I think I hurt that person’s feelings,’ ‘I made a fool of myself’ or ‘I didn’t want to kiss that girl.’ I have almost no inhibitions, so it’s dangerous for me.”
He would later return to rehab for a 40-day stay in 2018. In 2020, he opened up to the NYT about his “compulsive behavior.” He said that that certain patterns of behavior became “a vicious cycle you can’t break. That’s at least what happened to me.”
Jessica Simpson has been clean since 2017. She undertook a sobriety journey after years of struggling with alcohol and substance abuse. In her 2020 memoir Open Book, Simpson talks about overcoming her addiction struggles and finally starting to heal from childhood trauma. She is another one of the celebrity drug addicts to admit that her addiction would have killed her had it gone unchecked.
“I was killing myself with all the drinking and pills,” Simpson shared in the memoir. “I need to stop. Something’s got to stop. And if it’s the alcohol that’s doing this, and making things worse, then I quit,” She told her friends in 2017.
Demi Moore has struggled with addiction off and on for decades. Before her own struggles, she saw her parents struggle with substance abuse from a young age. The star has gone to rehab several times, once in the ’80s and again in 2012. She is another one of the celebrity drug addicts to be very candid about her struggles. In her 2019 memoir Inside Out, she went into detail about the topic.
Talking about the first time she got sober, when she was cast in 1985 hit St. Elmo’s Fire, Moore said the following: “If I had needed to do it just for myself, I didn’t value myself enough. But the fact that they stood by me, still allowed me to step in to do the film was truly divine intervention that gave me something that meant more to me, which was to do the film, and allowed me to start to begin to find some value for myself.”
Dax Shepard is one of the celebrity drug addicts to relapse in recent years. However, he has been extremely open about his journey often speaking of it on his popular podcast Armchair Expert. Before his relapse, Shepard had been 16 years sober.
In a 2019 episode of the podcast, he talked about addiction as an ongoing sickness. “You’ve got to acknowledge you are an addict every day, first thing, right when you wake up,” he told guest Gwyneth Paltrow. “I wrote a page in my journal every single morning because I had this thought that if I can’t commit 20 minutes to remember I’m an addict each morning, I’m going to end up blowing nine hours a day as an addict. I have to be able to say, minimally this is your commitment.”
In 2016, Brad Pitt separated from Angelina Jolie after a fight about Pitt’s drinking. After the fight, Pitt had enough. As he put it, “I had taken things as far as I could take it, so I removed my drinking privileges.” The breakup marked the beginning of Pitt’s time in Alcoholics Anonymous, SheKnows reported.
“You had all these men sitting around being open and honest in a way I have never heard,” he said of AA. “It was this safe space where there was little judgment, and therefore little judgment of yourself.”
Demi Lovato is another one of the celebrity drug addicts who has struggled for years to keep their drug addiction at bay. In 2018, Lovato suffered an overdose that resulted in multiple strokes and a heart attack. The severity of the overdose landed them in the hospital.
They released the following statement after they recovered: “What I’ve learned is that this illness is not something that disappears or fades with time. It is something I must continue to overcome and have not done yet.”
Superstar Lady Gaga is another one of the celebrity drug addicts who got caught up in the moment and turned to cocaine. In a 2010 biography, Lady Gaga: Just Dance, she shared her past struggles with the substance.
“My cocaine soundtrack was always The Cure. I would lock myself in my room and listen to ‘Never Enough’ on repeat while I did bags and bags of cocaine. It was about being an artist,” she admits in the biography. “I wasn’t a lazy addict. I would make demo tapes and send them around. At the time I didn’t think there was anything wrong with me, until my friends said, ‘Are you doing this alone?’ Um, yes. Me and my mirror.”
Keep Reading to Learn More About Celebrity Drug Addicts Who Have Turned Things Around.
In 2005, Ewan McGregor became another one of the celebrity drug addicts to open up about his struggles with alcohol in Playboy magazine. “Originally I was a happy drunk. But later I was miserable because it’s a depressant…I was just ashamed of myself, really.”
“None of my directors ever said, ‘You know, I’d rather you didn’t drink at work.’ None of them. And they must have known,” he said in the interview. “I was reeking of (alcohol)…I knew I was lucky, and somehow I knew that if I didn’t stop, everything would go tits up – my career, my family, my everything.”
Lisa Marie Presley
Lisa Marie Presley‘s life has been touched by the opioid crisis as is true for many other celebrity drug addicts. In a 2019 book, The United States of Opioids: A Prescription for Liberating a Nation in Pain, Presley wrote about how she became addicted to the powerful drugs.
“I was recovering after the  birth of my daughters, Vivienne and Finley when a doctor prescribed me opioids for pain,” she shared. “It only took a short-term prescription of opioids in the hospital for me to feel the need to keep taking them.”
“[I’m] grateful to be alive today,” she wrote, “and to have four beautiful children who have given me a sense of purpose that has carried me through dark times.”
“I have the most amazing last-night-of-my-life-drinking story. It was Drake’s 30th birthday party, and I made quite a fool of myself. It took me weeks to stop doing this every morning I woke up. And then I had a conversation with myself,” he said.
“I remember where I was. I was in my sixth day of the hangover. That’s how big the hangover was. I looked out the window and I went, ‘OK, John, what percentage of your potential would you like to have? Because if you say you’d like 60, and you’d like to spend the other 40 having fun, that’s fine. But what percentage of what is available to you would you like to make happen? There’s no wrong answer. What is it?’ I went, ‘100.’”
Melanie Griffith has been to rehab three times. She is one of the celebrity drug addicts to struggle with cocaine and alcohol.
“I’m lucky to be alive,” she said. “I was never as bad as some people I knew, shooting heroin and stuff. But I did do a lot of drinking and cocaine. I just thought I was having a good time.”
In 2009, she readmitted herself to rehab to firm up her commitment to staying sober.
One of the celebrity drug addicts to dramatically turn things around is Oprah Winfrey. Yes, the iconic media mogul and television host spontaneously admitted to being addicted to crack cocaine earlier in her career. In a 1995 broadcast of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Winfrey admitted to mothers who were struggling with addiction that she too had substance abuse issues in her past.
Oprah made a spontaneous admission to mothers battling drug addiction that she had also used drugs,” a spokeswoman for the show said at the time. “Oprah’s words on the show are the best expression of how she feels.”
One of the celebrity drug addicts who has stayed sober for many, many years is Dylan McDermott. In 2019, the actor celebrated 35 years of sobriety. He celebrated the occasion with a post on Instagram. He captioned it:
“Today is my Sober Birthday. 35 years! Staying sober has been my greatest accomplishment,” the actor wrote. “I say that because I was able to show up for myself in every way possible. In the most turbulent and best of times I had the rock of the 12 steps to guide me. I was able to be a father, son, brother and friend. Proud of this day because many in my family including my birth mother and father struggled with addiction. It was brutal to witness. I’ve also seen many who didn’t make it and that truly breaks my heart. If you’re hurting please get help.”
Zac Efron entered rehab in 2013 for alcohol abuse. He’s one of the many celebrity drug addicts to find help through treatment.
Performing with the group Wild Orchid, Fergie developed an addiction to ecstasy which later escalated to crystal meth. She stated that quitting meth was the struggle of a lifetime.
“I was [suffering from] chemically-induced psychosis and dementia,” Fergie explained to iNews in December 2017. “I was hallucinating on a daily basis. It took a year after getting off that drug for the chemicals in my brain to settle so that I stopped seeing things. I’d just be sitting there, seeing a random bee or bunny.”
Nicole Richie is one of the celebrity drug addicts who has been candid about their addiction. Before becoming a mom, Richie described being addicted to cocaine and heroin.
“At 18, I had just been doing a lot of cocaine,” she said on 20/20 in 2007. “I, again, made the decision for myself, this is something I have to do. I have to get off drugs. This isn’t the life… this was heroin.”
“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,” he explained to ShortList magazine in 2012. “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.”
Sir Elton John is another celebrity drug addict who admits that sobriety saved their life. He said if he had not kicked his cocaine habit in the 1990s that he’d likely be dead today.
“By all rights I shouldn’t be here today,” he said during a speech at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC. “I should be dead — 6 foot under in a wooden box. I should have contracted HIV in the 1980s and died in the 1990s, just like Freddie Mercury, just like Rock Hudson. Every day I wonder, how did I survive?”
One of the celebrity drug addicts you’re likely aware of is Drew Barrymore. As a child actor, she developed an addiction to cocaine. She was admitted to rehab for the first time at 14-years-old.
“Once I really asked myself, ‘What are you angry with?’ I dropped the anger,” she told The Guardian in 2015. “If you search deep down in me, it’s like, why am I so angry, man? And it’s like, OK, ’cause my parents weren’t there, who gives a sh*t? Lots of people don’t have parents. They were gone, they couldn’t handle any of it, and I get it… My life was not normal. I was not a kid in school with normal circumstances. There was something very abnormal, and I needed some severe shift.”
Eminem told Rolling Stone in 2011 that he overdosed on prescription medication in 2009. He is one of the celebrity addicts who had been abusing pills. He admits to heavy use of Vicodin and Valium. His addiction finally led him to seek treatment at a rehab facility.
“I was taking so many pills that I wasn’t even taking them to get high anymore,” he told the magazine. “I was taking them to feel normal. Not that I didn’t get high. I just had to take a ridiculous amount. I want to say in a day I could consume anywhere from 40 to 60 Valium. And Vicodin… maybe 20, 30? I don’t know. I was taking a lot of shit.”
Kim Richards was a former child star becoming a part of the Real Housewives franchise. She is one of the celebrity drug addicts who has been very vocal about their addiction to prescription pills over the years.
“I know I’ve put a huge dent in the work that I’ve worked so hard to build over the past few years,” Richards explained to Dr. Phil in 2015. “I just want to do the right thing and I want to be the strongest I can be. I know that me sober, I can handle almost anything.”
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Matthew Perry is another one of the high-profile celebrity drug addicts to turn things around. He’s been open about his alcohol and Vicodin addiction which occurred at the height of his fame from starring in Friends.
“It wasn’t my intention to have a problem with it,” PageSix reported the actor saying of the Vicodin he was prescribed for a jet ski accident. “But from the start, I liked how it made me feel, and I wanted to get more…I was out of control and very unhealthy.”
“It was scary. I didn’t want to die,” Perry later shared with People. “But I’m grateful for how bad it got. It only made me more adamant about trying to get better.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, we encourage you to contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): 1-800-662-HELP. They can connect you with resources in your area. As you’ve seen on this list of celebrity drug addicts, addiction can touch anyone. There’s no shame in admitting that you’re struggling and could use some help.
Andrew is an Assistant Editor for Mamas Uncut with over ten years of experience as a writer in the creative, marketing, and blogging spaces. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a passion for telling stories in a variety of mediums. Obsessively making lists, reporting celebrity news, and diving into emerging pop cultural topics are a few of his interests.
- 1 Let’s Take a Look at the Celebrity Drug Addicts Who Have Shared Their Story.
- 2 Keep Reading to Learn More About Celebrity Drug Addicts Who Have Turned Things Around.
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