Celebrities… we grow up watching them in movies and television, thinking what a charmed life they lead. Glamour and luxury are second nature to them. Their lives seem completely worry-free. But is this always the case? If you read all the stories about celebrities in recovery and famous people with depression, you’ll know it isn’t true.
Outwardly, rich and famous people seem to be living their best lives. In reality, we see only what the media shows us, the outward façade of a celebrity’s life. Dig a little under the surface and you’ll find a long list of famous alcoholics and drug addicts. Wealthy and successful people are not immune to mental disorders.
What is it with celebrities and mental illness or addiction? Why is it so common? Well, for one, it’s easy to access to harmful substances and no shortage of money. Add to this the constant stress of being in the public eye. And when you ask celebrities in recovery, peer pressure almost always features among the reasons they started drinking, doing drugs, or developed mental health issues. This is also true for anyone who is affluent and successful, even if they’re not well known.
What are the specific types of addictions and mental health problems that plague celebrities and wealthy people? Which drugs do affluent and famous people commonly abuse? And what can we learn about mental health and substance abuse from celebrities in recovery? In this article, we will share with you what the research shows. We will also talk about some celebrities with drug problems who have been through the struggle, come out victorious, and shared their stories with the public.
Settle down and prepare to read about some inspiring journeys to sobriety.
What is the Most Common Addiction Among Celebrities?
Alcohol ranks #1 in the list of addictions among celebrities, with 6 out of 10 having battled alcoholism.
Do you know any famous actors who are alcoholics? I bet you do. Daniel Radcliffe, Demi Lovato, Zac Efron, Elton John, Lindsay Lohan, Robert Downey Jr., Drew Barrymore, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Matthew Perry, Jamie Lee Curtis and Charlie Sheen are just a few of the big names who have fought a battle with the bottle.
Let’s take a look at the numbers. We surveyed 50 celebrities in recovery and found:
- 64% have recovered from alcohol addiction
- 46% have suffered from drug addiction
- 38% have battled mental health problems
- 14% have been affected by eating disorders
The most common addictions or mental health problems among celebrities
To be honest, these numbers are not surprising. Alcohol is a socially acceptable drug. It doesn’t have the stigma associated with prescription drug abuse or hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. And that’s the reason there are so many famous drunks.
In modern society, alcohol is an inseparable part of socializing and celebrations. It takes the edge off after a long day’s work. It lowers inhibitions and makes you more relaxed. It’s easier to “fit in” and enjoy social situations when you’re drinking.
It’s okay for celebrities and successful people to be seen drinking or promoting alcohol. But social drinking can quickly creep up and become problematic alcohol use. The list of famous alcoholics is a long one. And many accomplished people who are very successful in their sphere of work succumb to alcoholism. But are celebrities and wealthy folks more prone to alcohol addiction than the ordinary person?
Worldwide, more than 13% of deaths in young adults are attributable to alcohol. Alcohol claims 3 million lives each year. And harmful use of alcohol is linked to a range of mental health conditions. That’s why so many celebrities with mental health disorders also battle alcoholism.
In the US, 86% of adults report drinking alcohol at some point in their lifetime. More than 14 million Americans have alcohol use disorder and an estimated 88,000 die each year from alcohol-related causes.
From Hollywood A-listers to rock stars to stalwarts of science, alcoholism doesn’t spare anyone. Affluent business owners and successful professionals are equally at risk as the common man. In 2017, Ben Affleck, one of the most famous sober alcoholics, posted on Facebook that he had completed treatment for alcohol addiction. He credited his friends and family for helping him make a successful recovery. There’s no shame in getting help, he said.
Many celebrities who don’t drink know how quickly it can become problematic. But for those who have battled alcoholism and come out on top, alcohol recovery stories are inspiring. The willingness of celebrities in recovery to highlight their struggles is important in helping normalize the disease. It’s a reminder to us all that drug abuse and alcoholism can be conquered.
At Rosglas Recovery, we have helped many successful, affluent people overcome alcoholism. We offer one-of-a-kind luxury alcohol addiction treatment in complete confidentiality.
What is the Most Common Drug Addiction Among Celebrities?
If you remember our survey of 50 celebrities in recovery, it showed that nearly half had battled drug addiction. Some examples of famous drug addicts are Zac Efron, Robert Downey Jr., Stephen King, Lindsay Lohan, Elton John, Drew Barrymore, Matthew Perry, Eminem, Charlie Sheen, Nicole Ritchie, Russell Brand, Macaulay Culkin, Demi Lovato, Eric Clapton, Jada Pinkett Smith, and others. And there are many wealthy individuals, highly accomplished, who are less well known but have had similar struggles with drinking.
Celebrity drug users have abused everything from cocaine to heroin, ecstasy to prescription painkillers. But which drug do the rich and famous most commonly become addicted to, and why?
Interestingly, the most common drug addiction among celebrities and affluent individuals is cocaine with 52% reporting recovery from cocaine addiction. About 39% of celebrities in recovery say they have battled an addiction to various types of prescription painkillers. Out of all celebrities with drug addictions, 26% had struggled with heroin addiction. Other prescription medicines accounted for 9% of addictions.
The most common drug addictions among celebrities
At this point, you’re probably wondering why celebrities on cocaine are more common than celebrities on heroin. There are several reasons for this.
Cocaine, also known as coke, blow, Charlie, and snow on the street, is a highly addictive stimulant drug that reacts with the body’s nervous system to produce a powerful high. The euphoria is produced by flooding the brain with dopamine, a chemical associated with feelings of pleasure and reward. Cocaine produces effects like excitement, alertness, and overconfidence. Given the type of lifestyle they lead and the kind of pressures they’re under, it’s not difficult to understand why celebrities cocaine use is common. Wealthy individuals have easy access to the drug because money is not an issue, which increases the risk of addiction.
Another reason for cocaine’s popularity is its potency and duration of effects. Snorting cocaine produces a short-lived high of 15-30 minutes. Smoking or injecting cocaine produces a more intense but even shorter period of euphoria. Many cocaine users take frequent doses to maintain the desired effects, putting themselves at risk of overdose. Do you know any famous cocaine users? Demi Lovato, Zac Efron, Robert Downey Jr., Lindsay Lohan, Elton John, Drew Barrymore, Charlie Sheen, Nicole Richie, Colin Farrell, and Steven Tyler have all used cocaine.
“Every day is a battle,” said Demi Lovato, speaking about her cocaine addiction and bipolar disorder. “I thought it was important for people to learn from my struggles,” she added.
And how does cocaine abuse in the general population compared to affluent, accomplished individuals and celebrities in recovery? According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 17 percent of American adults have used cocaine in their lifetime. Does that surprise you?
If you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine addiction or other types of drug abuse, reach out to Rosglas Recovery. Our luxury therapy retreats for addictions and mental health issues have helped many accomplished and affluent people get their lives back on track.
Are There Any Gender-Based Differences Among Celebrities in Recovery?
We were keen to see whether there are any differences in celebrity addicts. Our research yielded some interesting results.
Famous women are more likely to suffer from (or are more open about) mental health problems and eating disorders compared to famous men. About 53% of women in our research had mental health issues compared to 29% among men. And 26% of successful, wealthy women have battled eating disorders versus only 6% of men. In other words, celebrities with major depression or eating disorders are more likely to be women than men.
But when it comes to celebrities with addiction, accomplished, affluent men are far more affected. We found that 74% of men in our list of 50 celebrities in recovery had alcohol addiction compared to 47% of women. Similarly, 55% of successful men had struggled with drug abuse versus 32% of women.
The most common addictions among men
The most common addictions among women
The gender disparity in celebrities who have been to rehab is not surprising. In general, men are more likely than women to abuse all types of illegal drugs and alcohol. And emergency room visits and overdose deaths are more common among men than women.
A word of warning. These statistics do not imply that women should become complacent because they are relatively protected against substance use disorders. Women are just as likely as men to develop a dependence on harmful substances. Moreover, as sober celebrities in recovery will tell you, women have a higher risk of cravings and relapse, which are critical phases of the addiction cycle.
Why Are Mental Health Issues More Common in Women?
A quick recap. Our research on 50 celebrities in recovery found that 53% of the women had mental illness compared to 29% of men. Did you know that Gwyneth Paltrow, Bradley Cooper, Michael Phelps, Bruce Springsteen, Kirsten Dunst and J. K. Rowling are all celebrities with depression at some point in their lives?
But what makes women, especially if they are successful and affluent, more likely to develop mental health issues?
Studies show that when it comes to mental illness, the sexes are not the same. Men have a greater tendency toward substance abuse and antisocial behaviors while women are at higher risk of developing depression and anxiety. So, celebrities who struggle with depression are more likely to be women.
One reason is that women tend to internalize their emotions, leading to loneliness, withdrawal, and depression. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to externalize emotions with impulsive or aggressive behavior and noncompliance. Also, women tend to ruminate about problems while men engage in active problem solving, making men better equipped to handle stressors. Of course, celebrities in rehab are no strangers to stress, which puts famous women at particularly high risk of developing mental illnesses.
Let’s put aside famous people with mental illness. You’re probably wondering if there is a gender disparity in mental health conditions among successful people who are not well known. No surprises here. Women predominate in common mental disorders and depression is the most common women’s mental health problem. However, there is no marked difference between men and women when it comes to severe mental disorders like bipolar and schizophrenia.
There are a bunch of other gender-specific risk factors that put women at risk of mental health issues, including:
- Gender-based violence
- Socioeconomic disadvantages (lower income or social status compared to men)
- Responsibility of caring for others
- Prevalence of sexual violence leading to high rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Gender bias in the treatment of psychological disorders (doctors are more likely to diagnose depression in women than men)
Last but not least, there is an important difference in how men and women seek help for psychological problems. When you look at celebrities in recovery from addiction, you’ll find women are more likely to seek help or disclose mental health problems to healthcare providers than men. Perhaps this is because the mental health stigma means successful men have a harder time seeking treatment for mental illness?
We’ll close off this section with a quote from the inimitable Kerry Washington: “I think it’s really important to take the stigma away from mental health. I go to the dentist to keep my teeth healthy. Why wouldn’t I seek help to keep my heart and brain healthy?”
Eating Disorders in Celebrities: Why the Difference Between Men and Women?
What do Demi Lovato, Nicole Richie, Lady Gaga, Paula Abdul, Taylor Swift, and Alanis Morissette have in common? Besides incredible wealth and fame, they’re all famous people with mental disorders, specifically eating disorders. Did you notice one other thing? They’re all women.
The pressure on famous women, especially successful, affluent women, to maintain certain body standards can be harsh and relentless. Many of them develop body dysmorphia and eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. That’s why there are so many celebrities with depression and anxiety.
In her Netflix documentary Miss Americana, Taylor Swift talks about juggling a very successful career with an eating disorder. “The intense public scrutiny led me to restrict food,” she says. “I didn’t realize I wasn’t supposed to feel fatigued after performing.”
An estimated 20 million women and 10 million men in America have struggled with an eating disorder in their lifetime. The general population pretty much mirrors accomplished, wealthy people and celebrities in recovery when it comes to eating disorders.
Studies have found that disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are significantly more common among women than men. Even at a young age, girls are more likely to report dissatisfaction with body weight compared to boys. Dieting to control weight and purging is also more common among women. Celebrities with anxiety disorders are at high risk of succumbing to the pressures of public life.
Some behaviors which are common in women put them at risk of developing eating disorders:
- Body checking, such as ritualistic weighing.
- Trying on clothing to check fit.
- Avoidance (not wearing tightly-fitted clothes).
Significantly more women than men report that they cannot control what or how much they eat. But interestingly, men are more likely to binge eat and exercise excessively to control weight.
There’s no doubt that celebrities and accomplished people who are under stress are vulnerable to eating disorders, what with having to live in a goldfish bowl. This serious and potentially life-threatening illness comes in many forms and doesn’t spare anyone based on age, gender, or social status.
Co-Occurring Addiction and Mental Health Issues in Celebrities
Demi Lovato keeps cropping up in this article. It’s because she’s battled alcoholism, drug abuse, an eating disorder, and mental health problems. She’s one of the most well-known celebrities with bipolar disorder. In her documentary “Simply Complicated” she talks candidly about her road to stardom and recovery from depression, bipolar disorder, and drug addiction. It was an overdose scare from mixing cocaine and Xanax that made her realize something had to change.
What’s interesting about Lovato’s story is that when she first went to addiction treatment, it came out that she is one of the celebrities with bipolar 1 disorder. This mental illness is characterized by intense periods of high energy (mania) alternating with deep depression. The emotional instability puts people at very high risk of becoming addicted to drugs.
Studies have found that in people with bipolar disorder, there is a 58% prevalence of alcohol use and a 38% prevalence of drug use. Also, people with mood and anxiety disorders are twice as likely to suffer from a substance use disorder compared to those who do not have mental illness.
Why do accomplished, affluent people and celebrities in recovery often have addiction and mental health issues together? What could be reasons for celebrities with mental illness to develop substance use disorders? We’ve been doing some research about this and here’s what we found:
- Many people with mental health problems use alcohol and drugs to self-medicate psychological symptoms.
- Alcohol and drug use increase the risks associated with mental health disorders. If someone has a mental disorder, abusing illegal drugs or alcohol can push them over the edge.
- Alcohol and drugs can make mental symptoms worse or cause new symptoms. Sometimes, alcohol and drugs interact with medications used to treat mental illness and make them less effective.
It can be difficult to diagnose substance abuse and co-occurring mental health conditions. For example, it may be difficult to say what came first in famous heroin addicts, drug abuse or psychological problems.
At Rosglas Recovery, we have specialized dual diagnosis therapy programs with an integrated approach to treat both conditions simultaneously. As many celebrities in recovery and successful people who have overcome drug addiction will tell you, getting treatment for both disorders is critical to lasting recovery.
Lessons from Celebrities in Recovery
Elvis Presley, the undisputed king of rock and roll, had talent, charisma, fame, and money. Yet, he died unexpectedly at the age of 42 in the bathroom of his iconic mansion, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee. The toxicology report indicated polypharmacy with a total of 14 drugs found in his system. It was a tragic end to a sensational phenomenon.
What lessons can we learn from sober celebrities who’ve battled addiction and mental health problems? Here are our 5 key takeaways:
- Asking for help does not make you weak.
- You need to be honest with yourself and others to stay sober.
- It’s okay not to be okay.
- There are healthy ways to deal with stress.
- Never doubt your inner strength.
Now that you’ve looked at some statistics and read about the struggles of successful alcoholics and celebrities in recovery, do you feel better prepared to deal with addiction and mental health issues? It’s not going to be easy, but it is not an insurmountable problem. At the end of it, you’ll come out feeling stronger and better equipped to handle any curveball life throws at you.
Rosglas Recovery has helped a number of wealthy and highly successful individuals who are famous in their own right achieve lasting sobriety. Contact us today if you or a loved one needs help with addiction or mental health issues.
Celebrities included in our research:
- Alanis Morissette
- Anthony Hopkins
- Billy Joel
- Brad Pitt
- Bradley Cooper
- Britney Spears
- Bruce Springsteen
- Carrie Fisher
- Charlie Sheen
- Colin Farrell
- Daniel Radcliffe
- Dax Shepard
- Demi Lovato
- Drew Barrymore
- Dwayne Johnson
- Elton John
- Eric Clapton
- Gerard Butler
- Gwyneth Paltrow
- J. K. Rowling
- Jada Pinkett Smith
- Jamie Lee Curtis
- Jim Carrey
- Josh Brolin
- Kat Von D
- Kate Moss
- Katy Perry
- Kirsten Dunst
- Kristen Bell
- Kristin Davis
- Lady Gaga
- Lindsay Lohan
- Macaulay Culkin
- Matthew Perry
- Mel Gibson
- Michael Phelps
- Nicole Richie
- Paula Abdul
- Rob Lowe
- Robert Downey Jr
- Russell Brand
- Sheryl Crow
- Stephen King
- Steven Tyler
- Tim McGraw
- Travis Barker
- Wayne Brady
- Zac Efron