Celebrity Drug Addictions

We’ve all heard the stereotype: Celebrities lead crazier and more exciting lives than we do. They get involved in “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” and burn the candle at both ends with their “functional” alcoholism or addiction. Celebrity drug addictions may seem glamorous, but they can also make it seem deadly.

Looking at celebrities who have succumbed to addiction, those who have beat it, and those who never wandered down the path of substance abuse, helps one understand if addiction is the “status quo” or something that ought to be brought under control.

Celebrities Who Succumbed to Addiction

The glamorization of celebrity drug addictions often overlooks the number of celebrities who paid the ultimate price. These are just a few of the many actors, musicians and artists who died in their struggle with addiction. The stories are varied. Some artists were on the upswing but faltered one too many times. Others never seemed to get the better of their addiction. At the very least we should learn from such stories:

Corey Monteith

A star of the hit TV show Glee, the 31-year-old actor struggled with heroin addiction and finally died after using again post-rehab. In an interview Monteith gave after rehab and before his overdose, he said, “The underlying problem was that I wasn’t ok with myself. The drugs were symptomatic of me not being in a good place. Things got really bad, really ugly.” Unfortunately, things got worse after this interview.

Heath Ledger

A brilliant character actor in films such as 10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot, and Brokeback Mountain, to his final roll as The Joker in The Dark Knight, Ledger frequently abused marijuana and was public about this use. His death was due to an overdose of prescription medications – some of which were prescribed to him, many of which were not. There are additional claims that Ledger was a frequent user of heroin and cocaine, as well as anti-anxiety medications and sleeping pills.

Chris Farley

The comedian who famously told a friend “I want to live fast and die young” died in December of 1997 after going on a four-day drug binge which resulted in a deadly overdose of heroin and cocaine. Farley was a comedian/actor who rocketed to fame on Saturday Night Live and later starred in films Black Sheep, Tommy Boy, and Beverly Hills Ninja. He was frequently in and out of drug rehab and constantly tried to lose weight, but ultimately failed on both counts.

Whitney Houston

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has not heard of Whitney Houston. They may have heard her singing hits like “I Will Always Love You” or “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”. They also may have heard her 2002 quote: “Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Crack is wack!” She later went on to admit that she had used marijuana, cocaine, and prescription pills throughout her life. She died in February of 2012 from an accidental drowning in a bathtub at The Beverly Hilton hotel, with heart disease and cocaine use listed as contributing factors.

Who Beat Celebrity Drug Addictions?

Although the stories of celebrity overdose and death are startling and heartbreaking, there are quite a few artists who recovered from substance abuse and found a new life in the process. Here are several artists that have spoken about their past celebrity drug addictions, the recovery process, and how they maintain sobriety in the volatile world of art and entertainment:

Macklemore

Grammy award winning independent rap artist Macklemore wasn’t always the clean living guy he is today. His take on The Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ “Otherside” is about his struggle with addiction as are other songs on his album The Heist. At present, he credits his success to his hard-earned sobriety. To quote from his critically acclaimed song “Otherside”: “Syrup, Percocet, and an eighth a day will leave you broke, depressed, and emotionally vacant/Despite how Lil’ Wayne lives, it’s not conducive to being creative/And I know ‘cause he’s my favorite.”

Robert Downey Jr.

Iron Man was not always the man with super smarts and a virtually indestructible exoskeleton. In 1996, Robert Downey Jr. was in a much different place. Though his career had taken off in the 1980’s, Downey was on the road to self-destruction. Several court appearances for drug possession, speeding, and other dangerous activities sent Downey to court-ordered rehab. But his drug abuse started much earlier. He’d been introduced to marijuana by his father, graduated to hard drugs, including heroin, and was in and out of rehab and jail for years. His strong will however triumphed. And after finally kicking the habit for good, Downey said, “If I didn’t believe in myself, there’s no way I would have made it this far.”

Russell Brand

The British comedian and former heroin addict is around 11 years sober as of this writing. In March, 2013, he spoke to British magazine, The Guardian, about beating his addiction, saying “It is 10 years since I used drugs or drank alcohol and my life has improved immeasurably. I have a job, a cat, good friendships and generally a bright outlook. The price of this is constant vigilance because the disease of addiction is not rational.”

Conquering Substance Abuse

Despite countless theories to the contrary, it could be said that of those celebrities who beat celebrity drug addictions, the problem was never solely their celebrity. In fact, some had to kick their drug habit in order to become a howling success. Many credit their continued success and fulfilling lives to their daily focus on remaining clean and sober.

The fact is that we all live under pressure in one way or another. Celebrities may have access to more money and more drugs, they may be in a unique set of circumstances, and it may “seem okay” for them to abuse drugs and alcohol – but in the end, no human being can operate effectively under the pressure of drug or alcohol addiction.

Celebrities Who Never Got Into Substance Abuse

Contrary to stereotypes and media hype, there are plenty of celebrities who never had to fight drug abuse or celebrity drug addictions. Whether it was their upbringing, or they simply knew the dangers, or they just didn’t have the urge, they apparently never went down that road. It was not necessary for them to “experience hell” before achieving a rare level of success. Here are several famous people who proved it can be done:

Leonardo DiCaprio

In spite of his recent Academy Award nominated performance as the pill-popping, alcoholic Wolf of Wall Street, DiCaprio has stated that he’s never taken drugs. In an interview with Us Weekly, he said about drugs, “Never did it. That’s because I saw this stuff literally every day when I was 3 or 4 years old.”

Jennifer Hudson

The gifted singer-turned-actor has had hit songs (Spotlight and Where You At) and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the movie Dreamgirls. On the subject of drugs she stated, “I’ve never done anything.” When pressed on the topic (she apparently has never had a drink either), Hudson said “I’ve never been interested. Nobody ever believes it.”

Blake Lively

An actress since her teens, Lively has appeared in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and Accepted. She also starred in the hit TV series Gossip Girl as a party girl, and has convincingly played a drug addict on more than one occasion. So it may have surprised her interviewer when she said, “I don’t drink. I’ve never tried a drug. It’s just something that I genuinely don’t have a desire for.”

Kim Cattrall

This accomplished actress is one of the famous ladies from the hit TV show Sex and the City. Regarding drugs and alcohol she said, “I’m not a big drinker and when I do, I get a headache. I don’t drink or take drugs, so clothes are my only mood enhancer.” She has been working in film and theater since 1975.

True Inspiration

While stereotypes like the “celebrity train wreck” certainly exist, there continue to be artists who refuse to fit the mold that the media (and to some degree the fans) try to push them into. The artists who kicked addiction or never bowed down to drugs in the first place are true inspirations. They have managed to thrive in the high-pressure entertainment industry. Those that paid the ultimate price leave a legacy of greatness as far as their art in concerned while acting as a cautionary tale on the deadly game of drug abuse and celebrity drug addictions.

Celebrity drug addictions: Status quo or out of control? Taking the “glamour” and the harmful lies out of the picture always helps to put the subject in proper perspective. Sharing the stories of those who beat addiction, as well as those who avoided the lure of drugs – and their subsequent health and prosperity – can help young people make sensible decisions.

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