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We all go through our own struggles, and we all handle these struggles in our own ways. But sometimes we need help to get us through, no matter how successful we may be in other areas of our lives.
Reading about celebrities who used to have drug problems and successfully came out the other side can inspire those who might also be in recovery to get better. It proves that no matter how you appear to be doing, everyone has demons they need to slay.
Here are some stories of celebrities in recovery to inspire you.
Robert Downey Jr.
One of the most famous stories of celebrity recovery is that of Robert Downey Jr. Most know Downey Jr. as Iron Man, but he’s been a big-time Hollywood actor since the 80s. He even worked on SNL for a year and starred with Molly Ringwald in The Pick-Up Artist.
Unfortunately, the Hollywood lifestyle sometimes comes with a few perils, including drug addiction. Downey Jr. was arrested many times throughout the late 90s for heroin, marijuana, and cocaine use. He was in-and-out of rehab facilities for his substance abuse multiple times.
Downey Jr. claims to have been addicted to drugs since eight largely because his father, another famous Hollywood figure, was also a drug addict and regularly provided him with narcotics.
Downey Jr. did some embarrassing things while high on drugs. Only a month after being arrested in 1996, he broke into someone’s house high on drugs and fell asleep in their bed. For this, he was given three years probation and was subject to random drug tests, but this still wasn’t enough for Downey Jr. to turn a new leaf.
The actor missed one of his drug tests and did three months in the slammer, but that still didn’t do it. He continued to abuse drugs until a 2001 arrest where he was found high walking barefoot through Culver City. It was this event that finally got through to the actor, and convinced him to change his life.
Downey told Oprah in 2004 that this was when he decided to get his life and career back together, and finally stuck through rehab. He said to her, “It’s not that difficult to overcome these seemingly ghastly problems … what’s hard is to decide to do it.” Downey Jr. has been sober ever since thanks to rehab, and his career has taken on new heights and success most performers only dream of.
Demi Lovato has struggled with substance abuse from a young age. In Lovato’s case, she became addicted to drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with other issues, including bulimia and depression. All of this lead to a lot of problems in her career, from her having to pull out of the Jonas Brothers concert series, to her punching dancer Alex Welch.
Lovato hasn’t been shy about sharing her struggles with addiction, and even admitted to smuggling cocaine onto planes at one time in her life. She wrote an article for Seventeen magazine describing her addictions and was the subject of an MTV documentary in 2012 covering her addiction and recovery. She was living in a sober-living facility for much of 2012 to keep her away from addictive substances and celebrated her six years of sobriety in March of 2018.
It’s hard to get over an addiction even after years of treatment, and Lovato is no exception to this harsh reality. She relapsed three months after her six years of sobriety and suffered from an overdose that July. Thankfully, she was rushed to the hospital and survived.
Lovato continues to work on her sobriety and has reportedly been drug-free since her near overdose. She has recently taken a break from social media and has been recording new music for her eager fans.
Demi Lovato’s open honesty about her struggles with addiction is inspiring, and here’s hoping that the last overdose is her last overdose, period.
Funnyman Russell Brand is known for a lot of hilarious hijinks, but one of the less funny aspects of his life is his struggle with drug addiction.
Although Brand might joke about his addictions during his standup act, he did some less than reputable things while under the influence. During his rise as a celebrity, he describes taking drugs daily for 11 years, including heroin and crack.
Brand was in the throes of his addiction while working as a presenter for MTVs Camden studios, where he says heroin was abundant. He’s been arrested 12 times for drug-related offenses, but thankfully those days are behind him now.
Brand realized he was addicted when living with a woman he dated, Amanda. He would frequently have to sneak away from her to smoke heroin, and it was one night while on the toilet trying to smoke while she was sleeping that he realized how bad his addiction had become. He was sent to get sober after being caught by his manager trying to use during a Christmas party.
Russell quit using drugs in 2002 thanks to the now-closed Focus 12 drug treatment program. The treatment program also helped Boy George and Amy Winehouse’s father, Mitch Winehouse, recover.
Brand has managed to keep sober by adopting a clear and spiritual mindset and practicing transcendental meditation. He has worked as a sponsor to numerous recovering drug addicts and even wrote the book Recovery: Freedom From Your Addictions about his struggles and how he overcame addiction. It is frequently hailed as an eye-opening read for those addicted as well as those who are not.
Few people are aware of Bradley Cooper’s previous struggles with alcoholism, but it’s true. While the actor has been sober since 2004, Cooper struggled with alcoholism through the early half of his career, and it could have easily lead to ending his stellar career as an actor.
To cope with the hardships of being a celebrity, and to fight off feelings of suicide, Cooper turned to the bottle. He described to The Hollywood Reporter how he got drunk at a party once and deliberately smashed his head off the pavement twice for onlookers in an attempt to show off how tough he was. He quickly realized that his life would be over if he continued like this, and got off the booze.
Cooper’s story doesn’t involve a trip to rehab, but rather someone who realized he had a growing issue and pulled himself out of his addiction before it could snowball and take him over. Not everyone can do this, and the majority of people in the throes of addiction need the help and support of loved ones and rehab to get them through. But half the battle, no matter what stage of recovery you are in, is realizing that you need to make the change.
Legendary rap icon Eminem struggled with drug addiction throughout much of his early career. He made these struggles public in the documentary How To Make Money Selling Drugs, and much of his music features lyrics about being addicted and abusing drugs, with the 2010 album Recovery boasting about his difficulties getting off of them.
Eminem’s addiction was to sleeping pills, which he thought was better than being addicted to something like heroin or crack. He would mix pills like Xanax and Valium, and this eventually lead to him overdosing on methadone in 2005, nearly killing him. The doctors claimed he had the equivalent of four bags of heroin in his system at the time they examined him.
He told MTV, “They were gonna have to put me on dialysis. They didn’t think I was gonna make it. My bottom was gonna be death.”
The struggles weren’t over there, though. Eminem relapsed within a month of his hospital release. It was ultimately his kids that convinced him to get clean. He wanted to be there for them and knew he wouldn’t be if he kept using drugs.
Eminem went to rehab to deal with the problem. He was up for days at a time due to quitting drugs cold turkey and even had to relearn tasks like walking due to his near-death experience. After leaving rehab Eminem filled the hole once filled with drugs with the natural high given off by running and exercise.
Replacing a deadly addiction with a healthy one is something many addicts do to keep themselves drug-free, and Eminem stands as a testament to this. It’s not easy to do, but with the right amount of help those feelings that you think can only be filled by drugs really can be replaced with something like running.
What You Can Take from Celebrities in Recovery
The stories of celebrities in recovery, their struggles, and how they overcame horrible addictions, is ultimately inspiring and greatly helpful to those with similar struggles. Even the most successful of us have demons that we need to fight, and while it’s not easy, reading these success stories can hopefully make it just a little bit easier.
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