David Bowie
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Celebrities Who've Been Candid About Addiction Struggles

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Matthew Perry
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It’s Not All Glitz and Glam

Celebrities can drop ridiculous amounts of money on outlandish things, fly in private jets, and live in some truly luxurious homes. But there’s a dark world that's easily accessible to them, too — one in which they can indulge in all the drugs and alcohol they can get their hands on. Though many celebrities never open that door, there are a handful who have charged right in and struggled with ongoing addiction as a result. Some celebrities, such as actor Matthew Perry (who reveals all in his new memoir), have been upfront and open about their battles with addiction and recovery.


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Matthew Perry
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Matthew Perry

In a new memoir, the "Friends" star reveals all about his struggles with alcohol and drugs, which included 15 stints in rehab and his colon bursting from opioid abuse when he was 49 — an incident that put in a coma for two months and forced him to use a colostomy bag for nine months. He told People magazine, "the doctors told my family that I had a 2 percent chance to live. I was put on a thing called an ECMO machine, which does all the breathing for your heart and your lungs. And that's called a Hail Mary. No one survives that." The book, “Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing,” will be released Nov. 1.   


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Hayden Panettiere
Hayden Panettiere by Glennia (CC BY-NC)

Hayden Panetierre

Actress Hayden Panetierre says she was only 15 when she began to develop a dependence on pills and alcohol. As her career took off, her addiction grew as well. After she gave birth to her daughter, Panetierre suffered postpartum depression and began drinking more, leading to hospitalization for jaundice. In 2018, she made the decision for her daughter to live with the child's father, boxer Wladimir Klitschko, in Ukraine. Panetierre ended up entering rehab for eight months and continues to work on herself.


Related: Celebrities Who've Done Time – and Still Built Successful Careers 

Kelly Osbourne
Kelly Osbourne by Eva Rinaldi (CC BY-SA)

Kelly Osbourne

The daughter of Ozzy Osbourne has suffered her own addictions. The 37-year-old TV personality has also battled drug and alcohol use and has also been in rehab and says that she comes from an alcoholic family. Today, Osbourne says she has been sober for a year after previous lapses. "If you would have told me 365 days ago that I would be sober, happy, and about to be a mumma I would have laughed in your face," she said on Instagram.

Downey speaking at the 2019 Disney Legends Awards
Downey speaking at the 2019 Disney Legends Awards by nagi usano (CC BY-SA)

Robert Downey Jr.

From drunkenly stumbling into his neighbor’s home by accident and passing out in their 11-year-old son’s bed to getting arrested with heroin, crack cocaine, and cocaine in his possession, Robert Downey Jr.'s battle with addiction was out in the open for all to see. He even broke out of two rehab facilities. After years of addiction-induced trouble, the actor finally checked himself into treatment and got clean. He has since spoken freely about his past addiction struggles, telling Vanity Fair in 2014, “Job one is get out of that cave. A lot of people do get out but don’t change.”

Keith Urban
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Keith Urban

As he began cultivating a relationship with actress Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban started to face his addiction to alcohol and cocaine head on in a real effort to achieve sobriety. Urban has been open about how he overcame his vices, although it’s not necessarily something he wants to constantly discuss in interviews. He has even gotten a little cheeky about his addictions — in an interview with The Times, he said, "I just realized I'm allergic to it. Someone said, 'You have an allergy? What happens when you drink?' And I said, 'I break out in cuffs.'"

Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato by Marc E. (CC BY)

Demi Lovato

Since she first went to rehab in 2010, Demi Lovato has been open about her battle with addiction. The singer was sober for six years before she relapsed in 2018, which she revealed when she released her power ballad “Sober.” Just one month later, she was rushed to the hospital after overdosing. The nearly fatal incident landed her in the hospital for two weeks plus a subsequent three-month rehab stay. In her documentary “Dancing With the Devil,” she says, “You shouldn't be forced to be sober if you're not ready. You shouldn't get sober for other people,” explaining that sobriety is not a one-size-fits-all experience for everyone and that her path still includes marijuana and alcohol in moderation.

Russell Brand
Russell Brand by Eva Rinaldi (CC BY)

Russell Brand

Coming up on 20 years sober, actor Russell Brand has spoken freely about his former heroin addiction. Brand has abstained from both heroin and alcohol since 2002 and in 2017, he published the book “Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions” documenting his journey to sobriety. 

Jessica Simpson
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Jessica Simpson

While her alcoholism wasn’t necessarily common knowledge, Jessica Simpson has opened up about her prior addiction. She even penned “Open Book,” a memoir in which she goes into detail about her struggles with alcohol and her journey to sobriety and self-love.

Ben Affleck
Ben Affleck by Gage Skidmore (CC BY)

Ben Affleck

After filming wrapped for “Good Will Hunting” in 1997, Ben Affleck decided he wanted to stop drinking after doing things while he was drunk that he later regretted. But the actor didn’t seek treatment until 2001 and has since been to rehab a handful of times, including a stint in 2018. He also had a setback in 2019 which he later spoke out about, explaining his family history of alcoholism during an interview with the New York Times, saying, “The legacy of that is quite powerful and something hard to shake.” 

Dax Shepard
Dax Shepard by Genevieve (CC BY)

Dax Shepard

Dax Shepard has never shied away from discussing his struggles with addiction and his up-and-down journey to sobriety. The comedian has admitted to using cocaine, opiates, diet pills, pain pills, marijuana, and alcohol. Despite being sober for almost 16 years, he revealed during his podcast “Armchair Expert” that he relapsed after his motorcycle accident by abusing painkillers. 

Bradley Cooper
Wikimedia Commons

Bradley Cooper

Now one of Hollywood’s most popular leading men, Bradley Cooper struggled with addiction as he rose to fame. The actor has openly discussed his former drug and alcohol abuse, admitting that his addictions once threatened to ruin his life. Cooper has now been clean since 2004 and has even helped others — like Brad Pitt — get sober.

Eminem
Wikimedia Commons

Eminem

As Eminem’s music career took off, so did his drug abuse. In a 2009 interview with The New York Times, the rapper said, “I was so deep into my addiction at one point that I couldn't picture myself being able to do anything without some kind of drug.” He has now been sober for nearly 14 years.

Drew Barrymore
Wikimedia Commons

Drew Barrymore

Drew Barrymore has never tried to keep her struggles with addiction under wraps. The actress has openly discussed her childhood dependency on drugs. Keeping with her history of being candid, she revealed on “CBS This Morning” in 2021 that she also gave up alcohol about two-and-a-half years prior, explaining that it "just did not serve" her and her life.

Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe by David Shankbone (CC BY-SA)

Rob Lowe

Now sober for more than 31 years, Rob Lowe once struggled with an alcohol addiction. The actor has been open about his journey to recovery, telling Variety, “The only way to stay in recovery is to be honest with yourself on a minute-by-minute basis. No secrets, no double life. And you have to get real.”  


Related: Celebrity Marriages That Have Stood the Test of Time

David Bowie
David Bowie by Roger Woolman (CC BY-SA)

David Bowie

David Bowie was notorious for being addicted to cocaine in the ‘70s. The late musician admitted that he had an addictive personality and explained how cocaine was easily accessible in the U.S. during the time he became addicted. Bowie spent the later years of his life sober before he died in 2016.

Billy Idol
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Billy Idol

The road to rehabilitation is often triggered by reaching rock bottom. For rockstar Billy Idol, that rock bottom emerged in 1990 when he was involved in a motorcycle accident while under the influence of drugs. In the accident, he broke both his arm and leg and decided it was time to clean up his act. In 2021, he admitted that while he did stop abusing hard drugs, he isn’t actually 100% sober and does still drink a little.

Gary Busey
Gary Busey by JessicaPinney (CC BY-SA)

Gary Busey

In a personal essay, actor Gary Busey revealed his dark struggle with addiction, recounting the time he overdosed on cocaine and woke up in a hospital bed with liquid coming out of his mouth, nose, and eyes. “The fact of the matter is, when you do drugs like I did, they become the number one relationship in your life; your family and your career run a distant second,” Busey writes in his essay. The actor now has 25 years of sobriety under his belt.

Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne by Focka (CC BY-ND)

Ozzy Osbourne

Rock ‘n Roll legend Ozzy Osbourne indulged in a reckless lifestyle riddled with drugs and alcohol. Osbourne was the lead vocalist for Black Sabbath in 1969 and began heavily using cocaine by 1971. By 1979, he was booted from the band and subsequently spent three months in a hotel room drinking and doing drugs. While he cleaned up his act here and there after marrying his wife Sharon, he continued to relapse every couple of years with his most recent setback happening in 2013. He’s been sober ever since.