Alcohol Abuse Among Celebrities
In this day and age, it sometimes seems like we know more about celebrity lifestyles than we do about, say, a neighbor or extended family member. The increased visibility and resulting public scrutiny that famous people are subjected to certainly shines a spotlight on even their most mundane activities. The accompanying stress of living such a high profile existence may also play a causative role in the development of issues such as alcohol use disorder to begin with.
Indeed, a number of high-profile celebrities have a previous or existing dependence on alcohol. While having that information become public may not be ideal for the celebrity, it does bring the issue of alcohol and drug dependence to light. Moreover, a celebrity suffering from and receiving treatment for alcohol abuse or dependency might make treatment seem more acceptable and help eliminate the stigma associated with it. This, in turn, could motivate alcohol abusers to seek help for their issues with dependency.
A Short List of Celebrity Alcohol Abuse
Alec Baldwin has admitted to past dangerous behavior such as drinking and driving during his days as a young actor. Today, he maintains that for more than 30 years, with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), he has avoided using alcohol.
Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige has spoken about the impact of the untimely death of Whitney Houston, and how it spurred her to seek strength in her religion and double down on her sobriety from alcohol. Perhaps unsurprisingly, for a singer, she has been quite vocal about her long struggle with both drinking and drugs, frequently alluding to it in song.
Russell Brand has been very outspoken about his struggles with drugs and alcohol. Sober for more than 10 years, Brand has championed the need to be non-judgmental and empathetic toward those with addiction issues.
Bradley Cooper, now sober for close to a decade, has spoken openly about his addictions negatively impacting the amount of work he was receiving, and how the realization that he may not work altogether helped him to get sober.
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Mel Gibson is an example of how a once-thriving career can quickly diminish following a series of offensive, alcohol-influenced rants that were caught on tape and made public. More recently, Robert Downey Jr., himself a recovering former alcohol and substance abuser, has made pleas to the public to forgive the beleaguered Mel Gibson and hasten his recovery.
Sir Anthony Hopkins has been sober for nearly 40 years, and is very open about how AA helped him, as a young actor, turn his life around.
Samuel L. Jackson
Having experienced the death of his father from alcohol abuse, Jackson would himself go on to recount his own life-threatening struggle with addiction. With help from his family, he was able to successfully complete an inpatient rehab stay, and has maintained his sobriety for more than 20 years.
Jada Pinkett Smith
The actress credits support from her husband, in addition to the completion of an alcohol treatment program, in strengthening her resolve to remain sober for more than 10 years.
A successful writer, Stephen King once waged a long battle against alcohol abuse. Following a successful family intervention was staged, Stephen King has been sober for decades.
Like many celebs, Daniel Radcliffe said a pattern of problem drinking began in the face of insecurities about his talent and career, compounded with the pressures of handling fame at a young age. The marked personality changes that it brought about, as well as the negative health effects, led the young actor to seek treatment and, ultimately, live an alcohol-free life since 2010.
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How Do Celebrity Alcoholics Get Treatment?
Many celebrities in need of alcohol abuse treatment attend private inpatient facilities that specialize in shielding them from the public eye as much as possible.
Ethanol, or alcohol, is the top substance of abuse among those who attend treatment, as a 2017 Recovery Brands survey reports. 68.85% of people who took the survey underwent treatment for alcohol abuse, and almost 53% of respondents said that getting help with a drinking problem was their most common reason for seeking treatment. No matter how many substances of abuse people receive treatment for, the most worrisome one is alcohol. Luckily these days, alcohol abuse treatment is very accessible.
As mentioned, though, some high profile people in recovery have been outspoken about their experiences, feeling that, as public figures, they can help raise awareness around the issues of drug and alcohol abuse. Sadly, there are also quite a few examples (e.g., Billie Holiday, Veronica Lake, Mickey Mantle, and Amy Winehouse) of famous drug and alcohol abusers who did not receive the treatment they needed and, ultimately, passed away from issues related to their addiction.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Understanding Drug Use and Addiction.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018). Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2015). Alcohol Overdose: The Dangers of Drinking Too Much.