It’s a tale as old as the entertainment industry itself: the up-and-coming young star, trapped in a world of addiction to drugs and alcohol, spiraling out of control until they either get clean, or tragically, their star permanently burns out. Under the white-hot glare of the spotlight, celebrities feel the pressure to be thin and energetic, and the stress of endless days of shooting, paparazzi and fighting for attention leads some to turn to substances for energy. Their money and influence make it easy to get illegal drugs – and many people turn a blind eye when a celebrity uses drugs.
Not every celebrity addiction ends tragically, though. For every Amy Winehouse or River Phoenix, there is a Robert Downey, Jr. or Drew Barrymore, that has overcome their demons and gone on to a successful career and sober life. Here are some of the more inspiring stories of celebrity recovery.
Drew Barrymore first charmed audiences as the precocious Gert in the 1982 film “E.T: Extraterrestrial,” but at that time, few knew that the adorable little girl with the lisp was already headed down a path of self-destruction. By the time she was 11, Barrymore was an alcoholic; by 13, she was addicted to cocaine. After a suicide attempt and two stints in rehab – all before age 15 – Barrymore got clean and sober and has since gone on to become one of the most successful actresses and producers of her generation.
Growing up as the daughter of the “Prince of Darkness” would be tough on anyone: just ask Kelly Osbourne, daughter of Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne. By the time she was 17, Kelly was hooked on Vicodin and after four stints in rehab, she finally got sober. Today, after a successful run on “Dancing with the Stars,” she’s a sought-after commentator and host, serving as a regular panel member on “E!’s Fashion Police.”
Robert Downey, Jr.
Has anyone fallen farther – and made more of an impressive comeback – than Robert Downey, Jr.? A staple of ‘80s movies, Downey, Jr. made headlines for his multiple drug arrests and trips to rehab. The low point was when he was found sleeping in a young girl’s bed in Los Angeles, where he landed after breaking in to the home on a drug and alcohol bender. After serving a prison sentence, the talented actor went into rehab and since 2002, he has stayed clean and sober. Once again, Hollywood recognizes his incredible talent as an actor. In fact, his most recent film, “The Avengers,” is already one of the top grossing movies of 2012 and on its way to shattering several records.
Watching Robin Williams on stage or in one of his films, it’s easy to think that he might be on drugs, given his manic personality. And in the 1980s, Williams was, in fact, hooked on cocaine and alcohol. When his friend, comedian/actor Jim Belushi, died of an overdose, though, Williams decided to clean up his act. He kicked the coke habit, but continued to drink – and re-entered rehab for alcoholism in 2006. He has stayed sober ever since, showing that it’s possible to get clean again, even after a relapse.
Like Robin Williams, Elton John’s over-the-top stage persona led many to believe that the talented musician just had to be on something. And from the mid-1970s to 1990, John was a notorious drug addict, binging on cocaine and alcohol. After battling eating disorders and several suicide attempts, John entered rehab and has stayed sober ever since. He is still a respected musician and composer.
The daughter of music legend Lionel Richie, Nicole first came on the scene with her reality show “The Simple Life,” where she basically acted stupid with her then-best friend, Paris Hilton. And while her television antics were amusing, her real life was anything but. She was arrested for heroin possession in 2003, and went to rehab, only to be arrested once again in 2007 for driving under the influence of Vicodin and marijuana. After a second stint in rehab, though, Richie has stayed clean, becoming the mother of two and a phenomenally successful jewelry and fashion designer and reality TV judge.
The list of celebrities that have successfully battled addiction is long and distinguished. The fact that many of these people have battled the darkest of demons and lived to tell the tale should serve as inspiration to anyone living with a serious addiction. With hard work and commitment, it is possible to beat nearly any substance abuse addiction and go on to a full, healthy and fulfilling life.
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