Celebrity Drug Addictions - Celebrities Who Lost Their Lives to Drugs or Alcohol

Celebrity Drug Addiction Scandals

With celebrity drug addiction scandals splashed across tabloid headlines, it’s easy to feel like every drug addiction ends in tragedy, rather than success. While celebrities from Whitney Houston to Joaquin Phoenix have lost their battles with addiction, other stars, like Nichole Richie, have successfully turned their lives around. Read on to learn how three famous celebrities successfully beat their drug and alcohol addictions.

Eric Clapton

The famous rock and blues guitarist Eric Clapton, who once spent $16,000 a week on heroin and cocaine, successfully overcame his addiction to drugs and alcohol. Clapton says his difficult childhood was at the root of his addictions. The singer, born to a 16-year old mother, was raised by his Grandmother and made to believe that his birth mother was his sister. As Clapton’s star rose in the late 1960’s, the musician’s addictions to drugs and alcohol spiraled out of control.

During a 1972 concert, Clapton passed out on stage from drug use and his celebrity drug addiction. The Who guitarist Pete Townsend, who successfully overcame his addiction, organized an intervention. While Clapton successfully kicked the heroin habit, he continued to abuse alcohol until the mid-1980s. In his autobiography Clapton, the legendary guitarist writes that “The thing about that kind of addiction is that I always thought, ‘I’m handling this. I can handle it. I can stop anytime. I just don’t want to stop right now.” In reality, Clapton says, his entire life was out of control. Admitting his alcohol addiction and seeking treatment a second time, Clapton says, changed his life.

In 1998, Clapton established the ‘Crossroads’ rehabilitation center in Antigua to help others beat their addictions. The center provides low-cost treatment and scholarships to help people of the Caribbean region overcome addiction. Today, Clapton has been sober for over two decades.

Drew Barrymore

Remember sweet-faced six-year-old Drew Barrymore in the family-friendly movie E.T.? Unfortunately, thanks to the pressures of childhood stardom in Hollywood and an unstable family life, Drew’s innocence did not last long. The actress reportedly started smoking by the age of nine, drinking by age 11, and smoking marijuana by age 12. By age 13, Drew frequented the infamous Studio 54 nightclub, admitted to being addicted to cocaine and landed in rehab.

Surrounded by old temptations; however, Drew floundered after her first time in rehab. She attempted suicide and landed back in rehab, followed by a stay with the singer David Crosby and his wife. According to Crosby, Drew needed support from individuals who were committed to her sobriety, which she did not get from her unstable home life. Drew later chronicled her struggle with celebrity drug addiction in the autobiography, Little Girl Lost.

Despite the actress’s rebellious teen years (she famously flashed David Letterman on national television), Drew managed to overcome her addictions. The actress transitioned from her childhood career to highly bankable roles in romantic comedies like The Wedding Singer and Charlie’s Angels.

Today, Drew remains committed to her sobriety. She continues to star in movies and runs her production company with friend Nancy Juvonen. Drew recently married art consultant Will Kopelman, with whom she is expecting her first child.

Elton John

Elton John began using drugs when his manager offered him cocaine during a recording studio session in the 1970s. Elton, a shy kid who felt uncomfortable performing on stage, said that cocaine initially gave him the confidence to perform. Ultimately, however, it also shut him down; the singer reportedly spent weeks at a time locked away in a hotel room doing drugs. Elton says he wasted more than 16 years addicted to cocaine and alcohol.

In his autobiography Love is the Cure, Elton describes himself as a self-absorbed drug addict. Surrounded by friends who were dying from the early AIDS epidemic, Elton says he was too consumed by cocaine and alcohol to comprehend what was happening entirely. “When you take a drug, and you take a drink, and you mix those two together, you think you’re invincible,” said Elton.

Elton’s wake-up call came in the form of Indiana teenager Ryan White, who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion. When neighbors ostracized White’s family in the late 1980’s, Elton stood up for the White’s. Ryan’s death in 1990 changed Elton’s life. “After he died,” Elton said, “I realized that I only had two choices: I was either going to die, or I was going to live, and which one did I want to do? And then I said those words, ‘I’ll get help,’ … and my life turned around.

After successfully completing rehab, the singer founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Today, the one-time addict is an outspoken activist, raising millions of dollars each year for AIDS awareness and prevention. He and his husband, David Furnish, are also the proud fathers of a two-year-old son, Zachary. Elton says his commitment to AIDS research helps keep him sober.

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