Celebrity Fame Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Celebrity Fame Alcohol and Substance Abuse


Celebrity Fame Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Celebrity Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Can Celebrities Handle our Praise or is it too much that leads to celebrity alcohol and substance abuse issues? Celebrity, fame, alcohol, and substance abuse if you listen to the media seem to go hand in hand. Not true across the board but it makes for good press. Sadly for more than we would like to admit this has been a lethal cocktail. 

Drinking and using drugs has been the norm with many music genres. For example, rock and roll, rap, heavy metal.  While hearing of the overdose of an artist from one of these music genres would leave us sad it usually wouldn’t be a surprise.  

What would take us by surprise is when a celebrity who usually plays the role of a boy or girl next door goody two shoe gets arrested for abusing alcohol or drugs. That raises a lot of concern and shocks the world.  

In this post, I have featured a few celebrities that have touched me with their artistic ability one way or another.  Of course, there are much more that could be mentioned. I’m going to rely on you to take of that in the comments. 

Lady Gaga ~ Megastar known for her unique way of shocking her fans and the world as well as her many hit songs. Paparazzi is one of my favorites. From her wild outfits to the revealing of her beautiful sultry voice during her duets with singer Tony Bennett. 

Gaga has admitted to using marijuana at one point in her life to address physical pain and anxiety.  You know I hear this a lot about people taking marijuana for anxiety but for me back in the day smoking reefer made me paranoid. Well, I wasn’t a celebrity and grew up in East New York, Brooklyn only God and the dealers knew what I was really smoking. 

Lady Gaga stated in an interview that it is a challenge to be creative without being high but she knows that she can so she does because she wants to live.  Blessings to her recovery journey because her creativity has brought joy to many including this writer.

Brad Pitt ~ Pitt has been in so many great movies but if I had to pick favorites I would choose “Fight Club” and “Money Ball.”  Since recently splitting from his wife Angelina Jolie there have been rumors that Pitt has been drinking and using drugs. Reports state the rumors are being perpetuated by his estranged wife. He denies these rumors. 

However, Pitt admitted in 2014 that early on in his career he wasn’t confident and used drugs continuously until he got burnt out then turned his life around. Routing for Brad Pitt and his family to come through the struggles they are experiencing with as few scars as possible and hopefully for Brad continued abstinence. 

Samuel Jackson ~ A Blockbuster movie star Jackson admits to years of being under the influence of drugs and alcohol while on set and stage. Cocaine was his drug of choice. Over 20 years ago he went to rehab and attended 12 Step meetings.  Jackson has publically given credit to the 12 Step fellowship Narcotics Anonymous for his successful recovery journey.  I’m a huge fan of Samuel Jackson my number one movie is Pulp Fiction with co-star John Travolta. Don’t judge me I know the movie is crude but it was so funny. 

Adele ~ Ah the amazing voice of Adele has brought a smile to my face on many days. She never ceases to amaze me at the notes her vocals reach. In an interview Adele stated that her father was an alcoholic. When she grew up she used alcohol to hide her emotional pain.  Marc Shapiro wrote the book Adele:The Biography in which the singer was quoted as saying, “I got drunk and by the time I went on at 2 a.m I had forgotten the words to my own songs.”   Having cleaned up her act Adele is no longer haunted by her addiction.  As a result, she is living the life she desires and we get the benefit of sharing it with her through her music.

Daniel Radcliff ~ What Harry Potter! See the disease of addiction does not discriminate. Seriously as long as I have worked in the field of alcoholism and substance abuse every now and then I’ve met a person that my mind can’t wrap around the fact that the person has this problem. He/she may look like the local librarian, an angel from heaven, or grandma next door.  That is how I see Radcliff because to me he will always be Harry Potter. 

In an interview with Skyart Entertainment, 2014 Radcliff stated that he was under the influence of alcohol on the set of one of the later Harry Potter episodes.  He described being in fear of his behaviors while using.  Over 5 years in recovery Radcliff describes his life as being the nice person he always wanted to be versus the rude person he was when he drank alcohol. 

Celebrities That Didn’t Make It

Being a celebrity doesn’t mean a thing to the disease of addiction. Not all find their way back and continue on to win Emmy’s, Tony’s, Oscars, VH1 awards or make it to the top of Billboard Hot List.  For some no more selfies, no more fat checks.

  1. I remember the day I learned that River Phoenix at the age of 23 had overdosed from a speedball. That is a mix of cocaine and heroin. A teen idol addiction took him from this Earth in 1993 it was sad he was so young and had already accomplished a lot. Phoenix has been quoted as saying, “I don’t want to die in a car accident. When I die it’ll be a glorious day. It’ll probably be a waterfall.” My favorite River Phoenix movie is, “Little Nikita” which he starred in with Sidney Poitier. I pray River is having a glorious day beside his waterfall.
  2. Phillip Seymour Hoffman always made me laugh a couple of my favorite roles he played was Capote and his small part in Mockingjay 2 which he died while in production.  On February 2, 2014, Hoffman died from a mixture of cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, and benzodiazepines. All of which can be lethal on their own.
  3. Amy Winehouse is known for her lovely attention-grabbing voice. My favorite song by her is Rehab. She died in her home at the age of 27 July 23, 2011, from alcohol poisoning. Winehouse struggled with heroin, ecstasy, ketamine, and alcohol use. Prior to her death from over drinking Winehouse had been abstinent reportedly for about a year from other substances. 


Bottom line each of these celebrities was someone’s child, brother, sister, friend, etc. Their fame and fortune didn’t always bring happiness. In some cases when his/her dream became true, it came with new fears.

None of us are exempt from the disease of alcoholism and addiction. You may not suffer from this disease and you may not have a family member who has this issue.  That doesn’t make you exempt from the fact that your life can be impacted. Perhaps by losing someone you have never met but looked up to. That person may have recited a line in a movie that influenced your behavior. Yet, now he/she is gone and you feel sorrow.  

Some of the celebrities you hear about every day are presenting to be a role model for your child. Then one day there is a crisis and your child learns the truth and is in emotional turmoil. Or they hear that Miley Cyrus advocates smoking marijuana and your tween/teen thinks hmm.  So don’t think you are so far removed from this topic. 

Saving for another post but let’s not forget those who died from prescription drug abuse.

  1. Micheal Jackson ~ Singer Icon
  2. Heath Ledger ~ Actor
  3. Anna Nicole Smith ~ Reality TV Star/Playboy Playmate
  4. Keith Moon ~ Drummer for the group The Who
  5. Julie Garland ~ Actress Suspected suicide
  6. Dorothy Dandridge ~ Actress Suspected Suicide
  7. Marilyn Monroe ~ Actress Suspected Suicide

Suggested Reading

In Search of River Phoenix: The Truth Behind The Myth

Brad Pitt: The Rise to Stardom

Daniel Radcliffe: The Biography

Amy Winehouse: The Biography 1983–2011

Can you recall any celebrities that we have lost due to the disease of addiction? Maybe you miss his/her music, acting, poetry, etc.  


**If you enjoyed this post and found it helpful Comment below and Share on your favorite social media site.**

Lydia Brown




Resource: People Magazine

Skyart Entertainment



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Lydia Brown

Lydia Brown, MS, MAC, CSAC, CADAC Editor ATN, Home Business Owner Advocate for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment CARF Surveyor

24 thoughts on “Celebrity Fame Alcohol and Substance Abuse

    • February 4, 2017 at 8:29 pm

      Hey Paula, I too wish after so many years we could witness and report improvement with the disease of alcoholism and addiction. Thank you for your comment.

    • January 27, 2017 at 4:21 am

      Hi Ruth when I was growing up I knew several musicians and they all used one drug or another. Thanks for stopping by.

  • December 3, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    My husband is actor, I’m a musician. It seems that many of us artsy people suffer from low self-esteem. My favorites who have cleaned up their act are Robert Downey, Jr. (whose father started him on drugs to bring them closer – idiot) and Drew Barrymore (who was raised in that toxic Hollywood admosphere). They got off to a rough start, but they’ve ended up having wonderful careers.

    Also, I just finished reading ‘High on Arrival’ by Mackenzie Philips, who is lucky to be alive. I cringe when I hear people saying how great the late ’60’s and early ’70’s were. This book outlines everything that was wrong about that period – indiscriminate sex and drug use became a way of life that has been passed down for 3 generations.

    I miss Whitney Houston, John Belushi, Elvis and Judy Garland, all dead from overdoses. Sad.
    DeeDee Lynn recently posted…I’m inviting you to take a peek into my 72-hour kitMy Profile

    • December 4, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      Hey DeeDee, yes there are so many that could be on this list. So many that it was both sad and exciting to think of them. Some people glorify the 60’s and 70’s and I understand it but the truth it was filled with a lot of misguided information regarding self-care and dealing with life. Thanks for your comment.

  • November 28, 2016 at 12:51 am

    Hi Lydia,
    This is so sad, it breaks my heart when I think of all the young beautiful and talented people that gone.
    Blessings to you and your community for all you do.
    Thank you for sharing!

    • November 28, 2016 at 1:29 am

      Thank you emi, it is sad when anyone gets caught up with this disease but it really goes a step further in breaking the heart when you see the talent that is wasted.

  • November 27, 2016 at 12:07 am

    Hi Lydia,

    This post brought back an early college memory. I ran into my high school sweetheart and he told me about his battle with drugs. Interestingly, he started his story with the statement “You know how all actors get involved with drugs…” No, I did not know 😉
    Rachel Lavern recently posted…10 Strategies to Get New ClientsMy Profile

    • November 28, 2016 at 1:31 am

      Unfortunately it is common for those in stressful fields to use something to cope illegal or legal. Thanks for your comment Rachel

  • November 25, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Lydia,

    No this disease does not discriminate at all. As I was reading through I thought of those in the 1960’s that have gone. I was 12 years old and in love with Jimi Hendrix. He overdosed. Then there was Janis Joplin. Not to mention half of my class I graduated from in 8th grade have passed from this disease and violence that comes with it.

    I know the face of this disease well. And being a Brooklyn girl like you I got a kick out of you saying “Well, I wasn’t a celebrity and grew up in East New York, Brooklyn only God and the dealers knew what I was really smoking.” Indeed paranoia does set in when you take a look at some of the dealers we had to deal with.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…How Can Black Friday 2016 Make You Successful In 2017My Profile

    • November 26, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Hi Donna, thanks for your comment. There were so many who died during that time period. I remember in my community either someone was killed in Vietnam or someone was overdosing and dying.

  • November 19, 2016 at 5:31 pm


    What an important article. You have shared about people we have all watched and some of us aspire to become like.

    How sad to realize that so many highly creative people turn to alcohol and drugs to soothe their anxieties or, for many, falsely believing that it helps them to be more creative and that it may even be “cool”. Life is difficult and many people feel that “if only” they reach stardom or financial success that life will get easier. And then when problems still arise and those old emotions still emerge, the drugs can provide temporary relief. And then what happens in the brain helps them to get confused and view the drug as the relief from emotional or physical pain.

    Many superstars forget that they can be a positive role model. Instead, they have that attitude of entitlement and may believe, at least for awhile, that they are invincible. They may believe that they can handle it and that someone will always be there to pick them up when they fall down.

    Also, expressing yourself creatively is reaching into your own depths and pulling up emotions that others are often unwilling to face. So they may express those emotions through their singing, music or acting, but the overwhelming anxiety may push them to want to suppress those feelings before, during or afterwards.

    Amy Winehouse seemed to need the suppression of alcohol to be able to perform. In one performance she joked about her father not being in the audience. What was she craving that might have allowed her to perform without being under the influence.


    Dr. Erica
    Dr. Erica Goodstone recently posted…Touch Is Good For Your HealthMy Profile

    • November 19, 2016 at 7:12 pm

      Hi Erica, sometimes I think the most creative people are all motivated by pain and sorrow or an extremely life rewarding incident. Throughout the years, suicide and or alcohol and drugs has been at the route of us losing a person of great talent. Thank you for your comment.

    • November 19, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      Hello Elise, Educating our community members on this topic will put in a place a strong foundation for our youth. Thanks for stopping by.

  • November 19, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    I know we hear it all the time, but it’s so sad when people with so much talent and potential leave us far too soon – but of course as you know far better than we how many others whose names we’ll never know are lost to this awful disease. Thank you for all that you do to help others and bring light to this problem.
    Marquita Herald recently posted…Reflections on the Willingness to RiskMy Profile

    • November 19, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      Thank you, Marquita, for your comment. I think about it all the time how many we don’t hear about or don’t reach. Some celebrities die from the disease of addiction and we don’t hear the truth until years later. Families keep this kind of secrets.

  • November 18, 2016 at 2:33 am

    Hi Lydia

    Wow! This is well researched post and the sad part of being a celebrity is that they more prone to alcohol to substance abuse.

    I was surprised to see Daniel in the list because he is an inspiration to the teens over here. The more I read your blog, the more I see how much addiction can taffeta our world.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Take Care
    ikechi recently posted…Making a Difference: BlogFest With StyleMy Profile

    • November 19, 2016 at 5:59 am

      Thank you as always for your support Ikechi. Daniel was my surprise as you read. Glad you enjoyed the post.


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