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6 Surprising Famous People Who Are in Recovery

Substance abuse, whether in the form of drug addiction or alcoholism, is a disease that affects everyone – even celebrities. Despite the trappings of fame, they have the same genetic predispositions, painful traumas, insecurities, and anxieties as the rest of us. Some people would even argue that their notoriety and wealth makes it even easier for them to feed their personal demons. Tabloid headlines are constantly full of sad tales of famous people who have lost or are losing their battle with addiction. Yet there are positive stories. There are many celebrities who are in successful recovery, living sober, productive lives. If they are just like the rest of us, then one thing can be gleaned from all of this – if they can get clean, so can you.

#1.  Steven King

“There’s a thing in AA, something they read in a lot of meetings, The Promises. Most of these promises have come true in my life: we’ll come to know a new freedom and new happiness, that’s true.” King’s 50-plus novels have sold more than 350 million copies and several have been adapted to other media – films, television, and comic books. In the 1980s, however, he was so addicted to alcohol and drugs that he can scarcely remember writing one of his novels – Cujo. To help him, his family held an intervention, confronting him with evidence – marijuana, Xanax, cocaine, and beer cans, all from his office. King sought help, completely gave up all alcohol and drugs, and has been sober ever since.

#2.  Michael J. Fox

“I used to drink to party, but then I was drinking alone every day. It was about a year of a knife fight in a closet, where I just didn’t have my tools to deal with it. But then after that, I went to therapy, and it all started to get really clear to me.” Fox is one of Hollywood’s most-recognized TV actors, starring in such prominent series as Family Ties and Spin City. All of his professional success became insignificant to him in 1991, when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. For about a year after his diagnosis, Fox admits to “self-medicating” heavily with alcohol on a daily basis. He then sought treatment, including psychotherapy, and learned to take life “one day at a time”.

#3.  Samuel L. Jackson

“Part of it is hereditary: my father died of alcoholism. I took a step further, I drank and I used drugs. I like the feeling of not being cognizant of what was going on around.” Today, Jackson is an incredibly prolific actor, with prominent roles in the Marvel and Star Wars franchises. Some sources estimate that his films have earned over $8 billion at the box office. There was a time, however, when Jackson was at the mercy of his addictions. He drank constantly, had a growing cocaine habit, and even overdosed on heroin. His “rock bottom” came when his family came home and found him unconscious on the floor, having passed out drunk while cooking cocaine. With this family’s urging, he entered rehab and has been sober ever since. Ironically, his first major role after treatment was that of a crack addict in the film Jungle Fever. Jackson calls the role “cathartic”.

#4.  Jamie Lee Curtis

“My recovery is the single greatest accomplishment of my life. Without that, the rest of my life would have fallen apart.” As the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh and the godmother of Jake Gyllenhaal, Curtis certainly has the pedigree to be considered Hollywood royalty. She has had notable roles in the Halloween movie franchise, True Lies, Trading Places, and A Fish Called Wanda, and for her work, she has won BAFTA, People’s Choice, and Golden Globe awards. Like many actresses, she felt the pressure to stay young. At 35, she became addicted to painkillers and alcohol after routine cosmetic surgery. At one point, she even stole her sister’s painkillers, later saying that she felt “lonely” and “misshapen”. Fearing the toll that her substance abuse was taking on her teenage daughter, Curtis sought recovery and has been sober since 1999. As part of her 12th Step, Curtis now gives back by volunteering on anti-drug campaigns.

#5.  Sir Anthony Hopkins

“There were some days when I drank a bottle of tequila and didn’t care if I died. I was so washed up, so empty, and feeling emotionally bankrupt.” Considered one of the world’s greatest living actors, Oscar-winner Hopkins has had a career spanning more than five decades. Besides the Academy Award, he has earned two Emmys, three BAFTA Awards, and a knighthood for his service to the arts. In his early twenties, however, the up-and-coming young actor felt ill at ease on the stage and drank to ease his anxiety. According to Hopkins, the entire decade of the 1960s is a blur to him, and the drinking continued into the 1970s. A Hollywood agent was so concerned about Hopkins wasting his talent that he handed him a card from Alcoholics Anonymous. On December 29th, 1975, Hopkins took his last drink and made the call to AA. Now sober for over 40 years, Hopkins gives back by volunteering anti-alcohol charity fundraisers.

#6.  Matthew Perry

“The thing that I’m most proud of in my life is that if a stranger came up to me and said – “I can’t stop drinking. I can’t stop drinking. Can you help me?” – I can say, – “Yes, I can help you.”” Instantly recognizable from his role as Chandler on the mega-hit sitcom Friends, has carved out a successful career spanning more than 30 years. He has also played memorable roles in the West Wing, The Good Wife, and is currently starring in a remake of The Odd Couple. In 1997, Perry spent 28 days in rehab for an addiction to Vicodin. Four years later, in 2001, he again entered rehab, this time because he was abusing Vicodin, methadone, alcohol, and amphetamines. Since then, Perry has devoted significant time in the fight against addiction. In 2011, he lobbied members of Congress for more funding for drug courts, as a spokesperson for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. In 2013, the Office of National Drug Control Policy recognized Perry as a “Champion of Recovery”, because he turned his former mansion into a sober living home named Perry House.

What We Can Learn from Celebrities in Recovery

These celebrities can serve as a representative cross-section. Like other people with addictions, they battled substance abuse for a variety of reasons –

  • Genetics/family history (Jamie Lee Curtis and Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Anxiety/depression (Michael J. Fox, Anthony Hopkins, and Curtis)
  • Escape/stress relief (Steven King and Matthew Perry)

Regardless of their reasons for drinking and using, in the end, they all had to seek treatment for the same reasons – to restore sanity and serenity to their unmanageable lives. Then, once they regain their sobriety, they continued to support their own efforts by carrying the message to others. If you want to do the same – if you want to try to get your life back – contact the experienced professionals at Ashwood Recovery today. No matter what your personal situation, they can help you take the first steps on your personal journey of recovery and return to sobriety.