- Nov 14
- AddictionAlcohol Addiction Treatment
Alcohol addiction is a complex disease that has affected the lives of many famous people for various reasons. Some find the pressure of being in the spotlight too much, turning to alcohol as a coping mechanism. Many grew up as child actors and felt unprepared for stardom which led them to develop mental health conditions later in life. Others find themselves surrounded by substances at parties and other events common to the celebrity lifestyle.
While complicated and chronic, alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a condition that can be treated. Below are 15 famous people who struggled with alcohol addiction and found recovery.
1. Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper might be known for some of his comedic roles in films like “Wedding Crashers,” but like most of us, his life has had its fair share of struggles.
He has been sober for over a decade and described how alcohol deeply affected his relationships in a 2015 interview, saying, “I wouldn’t have been able to have access to myself or other people or even been able to take in other people if I hadn’t changed my life. I never would have been able to have the relationships that I do. I never would have been able to take care of my father the way I did when he was sick. So many things.”
Cooper’s statements attest to how alcohol use disorder affects every facet of one’s life — including those closest to us. Since his recovery, the actor has gone on to direct and star in many successful films, including 2018’s “A Star Is Born,” for which he earned raves for his directing skills and acting performance.
2. Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr.’s experience with alcohol addiction is one of the most well-known, as he is now of the most highly paid actors in show business. Not long ago, however, he was practically unhireable due to his alcohol and drug addiction. He was arrested in 1996 due to possession of heroin and cocaine and found it challenging to escape the cycle of substance misuse.
Downey Jr. eventually sought help and made a commercial resurgence in the following years, starring in blockbuster films like “Iron Man” and “The Avengers.” According to a 2013 interview, the actor credits a combination of 12-step programs, yoga, meditation and therapy with keeping him sober.
Now in recovery for over 15 years, Robert Downey Jr.’s career seems to continue improving the longer he stays sober, making his comeback a very impressive and inspiring story.
3. Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt has been in the film industry for three decades as an actor and producer of several successful films. Behind the scenes, however, he had been struggling with a long-term battle with drugs and alcohol. After a public divorce and custody battle in 2017, he opened up about his alcohol and drug addiction issues and his attempts to stay sober.
He acknowledged in a GQ interview that he used alcohol as a way of “running from feelings,” and after several months of sobriety, he was ready to face these emotions. He told GQ, “I think that’s part of the human challenge: You either deny [your feelings] all of your life or you answer them and evolve.” His statements show substance use disorder often contributes to or stems from deeper emotional issues and that substances only mask these problems.
4. Zac Efron
Zac Efron confessed that becoming a celebrity at such a young age pushed him to maladaptive coping mechanisms. He entered rehab twice in one year for his alcohol and drug addiction while filming the Seth Rogen film “Neighbors.”
He told the Hollywood reporter, “I was drinking a lot, way too much,” before acknowledging how fame affected him — “I mean, you’re in your 20s, single, going through life in Hollywood, you know? Everything is thrown at you.” He also described how has learned from his past and continues to fight the “never-ending struggle” of addiction, with therapy and Alcoholics Anonymous helping change his life.
5. Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck is known for his starring role in films like Oscar-winning “Good Will Hunting” and, more recently, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” He has struggled with a longtime battle with alcohol use disorder and, in an interview with The New York Times, expressed that he attended rehab twice before entering alcohol addiction treatment in 2018.
Since then, he has attended outpatient treatment and cited friends Bradley Cooper and Robert Downey Jr. as two people who have helped him with his sobriety. He explained how recovery taught him important life lessons about being honest, accountable and helping others. Most importantly, he said it helped him learn to apologize when was wrong, as he’s continued to make strides toward his sobriety today.
6. Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato is among the many celebrities affected by alcohol addiction. In 2021, the Grammy-nominated pop star detailed their experience with addiction, overdose and recovery. In their documentary series, “Demi Lovato: Dancing With the Devil,” they explain how addiction impacted their life from a young age.
Like many who struggle with addiction, Lovato comes from a family with a history of substance use disorder. Their father had an alcohol and drug addiction, and Lovato witnessed his abuse toward their mother from a young age. Lovato’s mother also opened up about her Xanax misuse in the documentary. The singer has also struggled with co-occurring mental health disorders, including bipolar disorder and an eating disorder.
Following an overdose in 2018, Lovato has been working on their recovery, stating that inpatient addiction treatment and meditation have been a massive help with her sobriety.
7. Daniel Radcliffe
As the star of the “Harry Potter” film franchise, Daniel Radcliffe admitted to turning to alcohol to deal with his instant-celebrity status. While he enjoyed his job, the actor says he shut himself off from the world to avoid the public eye and constant scrutiny. He sees his personality as naturally addictive, crediting his close friends with helping him develop healthier coping strategies.
In a 2012 interview, Radcliffe stated that he came to the realization that “the drinking was unhealthy and damaging to my body and my social life” and that his drinking caused him to withdraw from all social interaction. While he has acknowledged the struggles of staying sober, he stated in the same interview, “I had to stop myself. And stopping has shown me a world of happiness that I didn’t think was possible.”
8. Carrie Fisher
Aside from her fame as Princess Leia in “Star Wars,” Carrie Fisher was also known for bringing awareness to drug and alcohol addiction by opening up about her battle with substances and recovery.
In 2008, she published a book called “Wishful Drinking” about her struggles with alcohol. In the book, she writes how she used alcohol as a coping mechanism and how drinking worsened those deep-seated issues. She also opened up about her 45-yearlong fight with bipolar disorder and drug addiction, explaining how she misused opioids in an attempt to self-medicate her manic episodes.
Fisher died in 2016, but she remains an inspiration for many by removing the stigma associated with addiction and replacing it with a glimmer of hope.
9. Billy Joel
Famous musician Billy Joel has opened up about his battle with alcohol use disorder in his adult life. Drinking had, at one point, disrupted his career and personal relationships. Fellow musician and touring partner Elton John encouraged Joel to get treatment for alcohol addiction, describing in a 2011 issue of Rolling Stone how alcohol had gotten in the way of Joel’s life and career.
While his drinking wasn’t consistent, in a 2013 interview with New York Times, Joel described how he would binge drink for “periods of time, during a divorce or something.” His statements reflect how many turn to drinking as a form of relief, only to have it dangerously disrupt their way of life.
10. Stephen King
World-famous horror novelist Stephen King battled alcohol addiction for a considerable period of time. In 1987, King sought help to quit all forms of alcohol and drugs, becoming one of many Alcoholics Anonymous celebrities who would find recovery.
In 2013, he opened up about his former alcohol addiction — “There’s a thing in AA, something they read in a lot of meetings, ‘The Promises.’ Most of those promises have come true in my life.” He continues, “But it also says in there, ‘We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.’ And I have no wish to shut the door on the past.”
King doesn’t pretend he never struggled with alcohol or thinks he should hide it. He instead looks at it as part of his health journey and a battle that you can overcome with professional help.
11. Lindsay Lohan
Like many child actresses, Lindsay Lohan has publicly battled with drug and alcohol use disorder. She was forced to take over her own management from her troubled parents, eventually leading to exhaustion and a 2006 hospital stay during filming. She was then deemed unreliable by Hollywood producers, culminating in a series of arrests and repeated visits to addiction treatment centers.
Today, Lohan is much healthier and places significant importance on routine and spirituality. She hasn’t been in legal trouble since 2013 and lives a sober lifestyle, documenting her meditation and exercise routine with Health magazine — “I meditate daily. Once a day, I take 10 to 15 minutes, and I do some breathing work paired with some spiritual prayers. It gives me time to focus.”
In March 2022, she signed a deal to star in three Netflix projects. Lohan is among the celebrities affected by alcohol who have since made an inspiring comeback.
12. Colin Farrel
After filming Miami Vice, Colin Farrell chronicled his depression, in large part, to his drug and alcohol addiction. The actor has since turned his life around, expressing how professional treatment changed his life and helped him mend relationships impacted by years of alcohol misuse.
In 2018, the actor even returned to a treatment center to help manage his substance use cravings to avoid relapse. Today, he hopes to erase the stigma of addiction and inspire others to never shy from asking for help.
13. Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore is among the many celebrities affected by alcohol addiction, with her substance misuse beginning in early childhood. Over the years, she has discussed her struggles with drinking and how she turned to it as a child actor, attending Hollywood parties with her mother at just nine years old. At eleven, Barrymore developed an alcohol addiction that spiraled into years of substance use issues.
Barrymore has since changed things around, however, telling the hosts of “CBS This Morning” in 2018, “Now it’s been long enough where I’m in a lifestyle that I know is really working on a high road for my little journey, and there’s so much peace finally being had where there were demons.” The actress-turned-talkshow-host has been sober since 2019 after attending a Utah treatment center for her addiction.
14. Tim McGraw
For country music star Tim McGraw, getting on stage to perform in the early days of his career led to binge drinking. The musician grew up in a culture of excessive drinking in Louisiana and eventually realized he was developing a problem when he felt he could no longer perform without it. Through therapy, he was able to identify the triggers that enabled his drinking habits and resolve trauma to get sober before the start of a 2008 tour.
15. Elizabeth Taylor
Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor battled alcohol use disorder for most of her life. She’d often spend entire days on set too intoxicated to read her lines. Taylor eventually entered an addiction treatment center in 1983.
In her diary, she chronicled the support she received from her peers at inpatient treatment, writing, “Nobody wants anything from anybody else except to share and help.” She learned that recovery was possible through the help and support of others undergoing treatment. After leaving the program, Taylor stated, “Not being drunk is the only way I’m going to stay alive.” She relapsed in 1988 but then went on to live a sober lifestyle until her death in 2011 at the age of 79.
Get Help for Alcohol Addiction at Gateway Foundation
Thousands of people struggle with alcohol addiction today, and celebrities are not immune. But what we can learn from these experiences is that recovery is possible.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol use disorder, Gateway Foundation can help. Through comprehensive addiction treatment, we can meet you wherever you are in your recovery journey to help you identify your triggers. Each of our holistic treatment programs is customized to meet your unique needs and improve your health and well-being. At Gateway, our compassionate team of experts can help you reach sobriety and continue down a healthy path.