The phrase that many former alcoholics use when describing their current state is “in recovery.” Dealing with the effects of years of alcohol abuse requires strength and determination to never touch another drop. Stories of celebrities in recovery often come about after that person has checked into treatment or emerged from a rehabilitation facility, and their struggles are often just as difficult as those who are in recovery and who have never been in front of the limelight.
Because celebrities are often granted their every wish, their staffs and co-workers might not immediately recognize alcoholism signs and symptoms until it’s too late and the movie star has a run-in with the law or has a car accident due to driving while intoxicated. Many celebrities operate in the spotlight for years or even decades before seeking help or being forced to enter a rehabilitation facility.
Celebrities who have crumbled under the weight of alcoholism and lived to tell the tale include:
1. Robin Williams
Funnyman Robin Williams has been making people laugh for many decades now, but in the early 1980s he had a severe problem with alcohol and was also abusing cocaine. When his friend, John Belushi, died from a drug overdose, Robin was inspired to stop the drug abuse and get clean. He credits becoming a father with offering an even stronger reason for quitting drugs and alcohol.
Unfortunately, Robin would turn to alcohol once again in 2006 after having been sober for over 20 years. Recognizing that he wouldn’t survive long with a renewed addiction, Robin checked into rehab and got clean a second time. Robin has commented that the most difficult part of his recovery was being able to admit that he had a problem and letting his friends know about his addiction. Since his second recovery, Robin has been quite vocal about his problems and has incorporated stories of his addiction into his standup comedy routines.
2. Mel Gibson
The last decade has been a wild ride for actor and director Mel Gibson, and after he was pulled over because police believed he was driving while intoxicated, his anti-Semitic and inflammatory remarks to the police all but destroyed his career and reputation in Hollywood. Over the years, Mel made several attempts at rehabilitation and getting clean, but by the time the 2000s rolled around, he was still abusing alcohol, and his problems would only get worse.
Gibson’s history of driving while under the influence stems all the way back to the mid-1980s when he rear-ended a vehicle in Ontario, Canada. Throughout the succeeding decades, Mel had further run-ins with the law and was still struggling by the time 2006 came, and he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor involving drunk driving. In the last few years, Mel’s remaining friends, like Robert Downey Jr. and Jodie Foster, have praised his efforts to stay clean and away from alcohol.
3. Elton John
His amazing songwriting capabilities and incredible stage performances allowed singing legend Elton John to cultivate amazing success in the 1970s, but an encounter with cocaine in 1974 would change his life forever. After becoming addicted to that illegal substance, Elton then began over a decade of alcohol abuse, which nearly killed him by the time he decided to change his ways in 1990 and stop the cycle of abuse.
After more than one suicide attempt and years of finding the bright spotlight of fame too much to handle, he decided that the only way to survive would be the complete cessation of illegal substances and alcohol. He has credited his husband, David Furnish, with helping to keep him sober and has suggested that he has found inner peace while remaining in recovery. Elton has learned to perform and remain a success without having to rely on the numbing effects of alcohol and drugs.
4. Martin Sheen
A master orator and a venerated actor, Martin Sheen has spent his career in roles running the gamut from noble to hilarious. Despite his incredible success in front of the camera, however, this actor wasn’t immune to the effects of alcohol and suffered for years with an addiction that threatened to end his career and his life. It is incredible that he was able to perform and offer so many memorable performances while suffering from alcoholism.
He eventually found the willpower to enter a state of recovery, and credited his faith with helping to keep his addiction at bay and allow him to continue living a sober life. His son, Charlie Sheen, has been accused recently of quite erratic behavior due to substance abuse, and Martin has been trying to find ways to help Charlie beat his addiction, too.
5. Stephen King
The “master” of horror and an incredibly prolific author, Stephen King has written novels that have captivated readers for decades. His prolific career is made even more incredible by the fact that during much of his most productive years, he was an alcoholic and abused prescription and illegal drugs. He has suggested in interviews that he can’t even remember writing some of his books because he was so intoxicated or high when he was in his office with his typewriter.
In the late 1980s, his family decided to stage an intervention, and after being presented with evidence of his addictions, he decided to quit drugs and alcohol permanently. The intervention showed evidence of a wide variety of substances including tons of beer cans, illegal substances like cocaine, and many prescription drugs like Xanax and Valium. Stephen King has been sober since that intervention.
Alcoholism is a disease that manifests itself differently in each person it harms, but one of the most damaging aspects of alcoholism is that it knows no demographic boundaries. A person who has fallen into abuse of alcohol might be a celebrity with millions of dollars or he might be an anonymous factory worker with a humble income. Incredibly, despite access to expensive treatment facilities and counseling options, celebrities seem to be as vulnerable to addiction as anyone.