14 Famous Entertainers and What They Say About Their Sobriety

by Jared Henry

As a society that tends to place those with fame on lofty pedestals, we often forget the vulnerable humanity that lies shrouded beneath the guise of celebrity. Being a celebrity does put people in a unique position of power, and though we may think of that power as having wealth, beauty, etc., I believe the greatest power they possess is their influence (both positive and negative). With fame comes an audience; one that can be comprised of admirers and/or critics, but undoubtedly receptive and attentive to the words and actions of a person with fame. When any celebrity sheds this facade of infallibility, they allow themselves the freedom to disconnect from the caricature of perfection while their stature brings public attention to topics that are often considered taboo or shameful to discuss in the homes, schools, or workplaces of  “ordinary” people. Whether it be mental health, addiction, or sexuality, every time a celebrity shares their experience and personal struggles, they are initiating public discourse and influencing the way people think about those topics. What’s more, they are giving a voice to the millions of people who relate to their story and perhaps give those who are hiding from their truth the courage to be open and honest with themselves and those around them.

As someone in recovery, every time I read a headline about a celebrity opening up about addiction, I feel a sense of solace knowing that their power of influence is amplifying the voice of millions of people who are suffering in silence. Each time a famous person talks about their experience with addiction, they are chipping away at the stigmas that, at times, can seem impenetrable. Today, more and more celebrities are opening up about their relationship with substances and adding their voice to the growing chorus of change in the public’s perception of addiction.

With that being said, I’ve compiled a list of 14 celebrities in sobriety along with some words they’ve shared about their experience, strength, and/or hope.

Eminem

“I knew I had to change my life. But addiction is a [expletive] tricky thing. I think I relapsed within … three weeks? And within a month it had ramped right back to where it was before. That’s what really freaked me out. That’s when I knew: either get help, or I am going to die. As a father, I want to be here for things. I don’t want to miss anything else.”

“I couldn’t believe that anybody could be naturally happy without being on something. So I would say to anybody, ‘It does get better.’”

– Rolling Stone, 2018

Robert Downey Jr.

“People never change because they are under threat or under duress. Never. They change because they see something that makes their life seem valuable enough to start moving toward a life worth living.”

Robert Downey Jr

”For me, I just happened to be in a situation the very last time and I said, “You know what? I don’t think I can continue doing this.” And I reached out for help and I ran with it, you know? Because you can reach out for help in a half-assed way, and you’ll get it, and you won’t take advantage of it. You know? It’s really not that difficult to overcome these seemingly ghastly problems. What’s hard is to decide.”

“Job one is get out of that cave. A lot of people do get out but don’t change. So the thing is to get out and recognize the significance of that aggressive denial of your fate, come through the crucible forged into a stronger metal.”

– Oprah, 2004

Bradley Cooper

“I would never be sitting here with you, no way, no chance [if I hadn’t gotten sober]… I wouldn’t have been able to have access to myself or other people, or even been able to take in other people if I hadn’t changed my life. I never would have been able to have the relationships that I do. I never would have been able to take care of my father the way I did when he was sick. So many things.”

– ABC News, 2015

Bradley Cooper

(Peggy Sirota/GQ)

Rob Lowe

“Being in recovery has given me everything of value that I have in my life. 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.”

Rob Lowe

(Dewey Nicks/VARIETY)

“Today I celebrate 29 years of sobriety. Thank you to all those who have inspired me on this wonderful, challenging, and life-changing journey. If you, or someone you know, are struggling with alcohol or addiction, there CAN be a future of hope, health, and happiness,” he wrote on Instagram. “And it comes one day at a time. #recovery #ItWorks.”

– Rob Lowe, Instagram, 2021

Daniel Radcliffe

“There is something in any person who drinks in a way that’s clearly not good for them, something that is attracted to that chaos. I change when I’m drunk. I’m one of those people who changes.”

Daniel Radcliffe

(Daniel Radcliffe/Facebook)

“I feel a lot more settled mentally, and am more comfortable with what makes me happy,” said Radcliffe about his life today. “More comfortable with the fact that I am a person that loves just hanging out with my friends. Or watching quiz shows. I am comfortable with the things about myself that I used to think, man, am I really boring? Should I be going out and getting wasted all the time?”

“As much as I would love to be a person that goes to parties and has a couple of drinks and has a nice time – that doesn’t work for me. I do that very unsuccessfully. I’d just rather sit at home and read, or go out to dinner with someone, or talk to someone I love, or talk to somebody that makes me laugh.”

– The Telegraph, 2016

Demi Lovato

“Today I would’ve had 7 years sober. I don’t regret going out because I needed to make those mistakes but I must never forget that’s exactly what they were: mistakes. Grateful that AA/NA never shuts the door on you no matter how many times you have to start your time over. I didn’t lose 6 years; I’ll always have that experience but now I just get to add to that time with a new journey and time count. If you’ve relapsed and are afraid to get help again, just know it’s possible to take that step towards recovery. If you’re alive today, you can make it back. You’re worth it.”

– Demi Lovato, Instagram, March 2019

Demi Lovato

(Getty Images)

“I have always been transparent about my journey with addiction. What I’ve learned is that this illness is not something that disappears or fades with time. It is something I must continue to overcome”

”I think that my whole life, I was the horse that everyone was leading to the well, and they couldn’t make me drink the water from the well. It wasn’t until this past year that I was able to taste the freedom of the water in the well, because I finally was ready to drink it.”

– CBS Sunday Morning, 2021

Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson

(KURT ISWARIENKO/ WARNER BROS)

“I had a very good theatre reputation. Granted, I was a [expletive] drug addict and I was out of my mind a lot of the time, but I had a good reputation. Showed up on time, knew my lines, hit my marks. I just wasn’t making a lot of money, but I was very satisfied artistically. I was doing Pulitzer prize-winning plays. I was working with people who made me better, who challenged me. So I was doing things the right way, it was just that one thing that was in the way — my addiction. And once that was out of the way, it was — boom! The door blew wide open.”

– The Guardian, June 2016

Ben Affleck

“Alcoholism, in and of itself, and compulsive behavior, are not inherently super interesting, but what is sometimes interesting is what you discover about yourself in the course of recovery and trying to figure out what went wrong, how to fix it, how you want your life to look and what kind of ethics you want to live by… So yes, I’m an alcoholic. Yes, I had a relapse. Yes, I went into recovery again.”

Ben Affleck

“…[addiction is] a lifelong and difficult struggle. If you have a problem, getting help is a sign of courage, not weakness or failure.”

– Hollywood Reporter 2021

Elton John

Elton John

“I am a survivor… I’ve survived a lot of things. Life is full of pitfalls, even when you’re sober. I can deal with them now because I don’t have to run away and hide. What I couldn’t do when I was an addict was communicate, except when I was on cocaine I thought I could but I talked rubbish… I have a confrontation problem which I don’t have anymore because I learned if you don’t communicate and you don’t talk about things then you’re never going to find a solution.”

– Variety, May 2019

Jamie Lee Curtis

[Recovery] takes work — hard, painful work — but the help is there, in every town and career, drug/drink freed members of society, from every single walk and talk of life to help and guide.”

Jamie Lee Curtis

(Joe Pugliese/Variety)

“Getting sober remains my single greatest accomplishment … bigger than my husband, bigger than both of my children, and bigger than any work, success, failure. Anything.”

– People, 2021

Macklemore

Macklemore

(Bandwagon)

“When I get sober something magical happens again. You had that like, ‘Oh I’m back.’ I can dream again, I have thoughts, I have emotions, I can feel my heart — those things go away in active addiction. Yeah, I think having a creative outlet — physical outlet, whatever outlet it is but something that separates you from, maybe your job if your job isn’t your passion. I think that’s super important. That love for life and that feeling of ‘You know, I’m here for a reason.’”

– KEXP, May 2018

Kelly Osbourne

“I am an addict and had thought that I had enough time under my belt and I could drink like a normal person, and it turns out I cannot and I will never be normal.”

Kelly Osbourne

(Race For Life)

“This is something I am going to battle for the rest of my life. It’s never going to be easy… Through being accountable and owning your own journey and sharing what you can go through, you can help other people. That’s why I came clean. I could have sat here and nobody would know.”

“I did it for me. I did it because I wanted to live. What I saw in the mirror … I wanted the body to match the mind because I spent so much time working on my mind and then I spent a year working on my body and now it’s about the soul.”

– Extra, 2021

Naomi Campbell

“The recognition I was addicted, and the decision to seek professional help was the best decision I ever made in my life. I attended Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. My doctor advises and supports me going to NA and AA meetings.”

Naomi Campbell

(TODAY)

“I have many friends [in NA/AA], my phone is open 24/7 and if there is anyone who wants to reach me for that reason they can,” she said. “I reached out to people and people helped me. It doesn’t matter what walk of life—addiction and alcoholism doesn’t discriminate.”

– Fortune, 2017

Trent Reznor

Trent Reznor

(Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

“Getting sober and getting my life in order has really changed my perspective on the creative process. It used to be fraught with fear. I would try to trick myself into avoiding working because it was the most difficult, painful self-examination imaginable. That process is no less difficult, but it’s become actually enjoyable. The act of getting in there and examining–failing at times and succeeding at other times and learning in the process–has become something I actually enjoy and look forward to.”

– Fast Company, May 2014