12 Inspiring Things Celebrities Have Said About Living With Addiction
Famous faces of addiction
We’ve come a long way in our thinking about substance abuse and addiction. Once considered a character flaw, addiction is now more accurately understood as an illness (or more specifically, a brain disorder) the same way heart disease or diabetes or depression are illnesses.
One of the factors driving that change is the willingness of celebrities in the spotlight to highlight their own personal stories of addiction, alcoholism, drug abuse, and ultimately sobriety and recovery. Putting a famous face on addiction helps normalize the disease—and hopefully motivates other people suffering in silence to get the help they need.
The inspiring quotes below provide powerful examples of what it takes and what it means to live with addiction every day.
Demi Lovato, on why she chose to speak openly about addiction
The singer received treatment for cocaine addiction and bipolar disorder in 2011 and has been sober since. But it hasn’t always been easy. “Every day is a battle,” she told People in September 2017. Rather than face that battle privately, however, she has spoken candidly about her experiences on a regular basis. “When I went to rehab, my manager said, ‘You can either keep this private or you can share this with the world, and hopefully someone can learn from your struggles.’ That’s when I thought, ‘I think it’s more important that people learn from my struggles than to keep it to myself,’” she said.
Lady Gaga, on remembering that we’re all human
In a 2013 radio interview with Elvis Duran on the Z100 Morning Show, Mother Monster spoke about using marijuana to cope with the emotional demands of her career. “It’s wonderful to be famous because I have amazing fans. But it is very, very hard to go out into the world when you are not feeling happy and act like you are, because I am a human being too, and I break, and I think there is an assumption...that I cannot break because I am an alien woman and I am unstoppable.”
Ben Affleck, on finding strength through support
The actor posted on Facebook in March 2017 that he had completed treatment for alcohol addiction, and he credited family and friends for helping him through the “first of many steps towards a positive recovery.” He wrote: “I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step. I'm lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I've done the work I set out to do.”
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Russell Brand, on treating addicts fairly
In 2013, when he was 10 years drug-free after overcoming an addiction to heroin, the actor and comedian wrote a column for the Guardian about why it’s so important to think of addiction as an illness rather than a weakness. “If you regard alcoholics and drug addicts not as bad people but as sick people then we can help them to get better,” he wrote. “By we, I mean other people who have the same problem but have found a way to live drug-and-alcohol-free lives.”
Amber Valetta, on sharing her story to help others
The supermodel and actress spoke about her history with cocaine and alcohol addiction in a 2014 video from MindBodyGreen. She had already been sober for 15 years at the time and said she hoped her story would inspire others to get help. “My hope is that someone, somewhere in this room, out of this room will hear something that will help them and perhaps get them out of the shadows and the darkness of addiction and bring them into the light.”
Eminem, on growth through recovery
The rapper’s 2010 album Recovery put his pain pill addiction front and center, but he opened up about addiction even more in the 2013 documentary How to Make Money Selling Drugs, MTV News reported. In one incident, he was rushed to the hospital after mixing prescription pills, then told that his organs were shutting down. However, less than a month after he was released from the hospital, Eminem relapsed. “It’s been a learning process, I’m growing,” he said. “I couldn’t believe that anybody could be naturally happy without being on something. So I would say to anybody, ‘It does get better.’”
Jamie Lee Curtis, on helping loved ones
The actress was 17 years into her recovery from opiate addiction when Prince died, and the news that the musician had struggled with an addiction to prescription pain medication drove her to write compassionately about addicts on the Huffington Post. “I am one of the lucky ones,” she wrote. “Let’s work harder, look closer, and do everything we can not to enable and in doing so, disable, our loved ones who are ill.”
Rob Lowe, on finding a silver lining in alcoholism
In 2015, the actor was given the Spirit of Sobriety award at the Brent Shapiro Foundation Summer Spectacular for being sober for 25 years, People reported. “Recovery is a road of many surprising, unexpected gifts,” he told People before the ceremony. “Being in recovery has given me everything of value that I have in my life,” he said. “Integrity, honesty, fearlessness, faith, a relationship with God, and most of all gratitude. It’s given me a beautiful family and an amazing career. I’m under no illusions where I would be without the gift of alcoholism and the chance to recover from it.”
Elizabeth Vargas, on connecting through addiction
The TV journalist known for her reporting on 20/20 went to rehab for alcohol abuse in November 2013 and later penned a memoir about her experience. She first recognized she had a problem after reading other books about addiction—and seeing herself in the pages. She told People she hoped her book could return the favor. “It’s very scary to put it out there, but if I can help one person feel less alone, then I’m really happy about that,” she said.
Deryck Whibley, on ending the cycle of addiction
The frontman of rock band Sum 41 hit rock bottom in 2014, when he nearly died due to alcohol addiction. It took being confined to a hospital bed for him to realize just how damaging his illness had become. “When I woke up sober in the hospital, I knew instantly how bad it was and what had gotten me there and that I wasn’t going to drink anymore,” he told People in 2016. “I was so done with it. If anything, it almost felt like a bit of freedom: ‘Finally, something has stopped this whole cycle.’”
Marlee Matlin, on finding her strength
The deaf actress checked herself into rehab in 1987, but hardly told anyone about it—until she published the memoir I’ll Scream Later in 2009. In the book, she details being molested by a babysitter when she was just 11 years old and finding escape from that trauma in marijuana and later acid and speed, as People reported at the time. While others weren’t taking her drug problems seriously by the time she was headed to rehab, she wrote that she knew she needed help. “I have been given an extraordinary life thus far, and I am nowhere close to done with it,” she wrote. “The dark secrets that I kept locked away in my heart for all those many years are now out in the open. Today, I can face those old wounds. I know they cannot defeat me–the drugs, the babysitter...the deafness, and the rest. I am stronger than all of it.”
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Eric Clapton, on identifying as an addict
In a 2008 Esquire magazine “What I’ve Learned” column, the musician said that being in recovery (from alcohol, cocaine, and heroin) gave him more to be proud of than his musical accomplishments. “My identity shifted when I got into recovery,” he said. “That’s who I am now, and it actually gives me greater pleasure to have that identity than to be a musician or anything else, because it keeps me in a manageable size. When I’m down on the ground with my disease—which I’m happy to have—it gets me in tune. It gives me a spiritual anchor.”