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    19 Celebs Who Struggled With Addiction But Ultimately Overcame It In A Really Inspiring Way

    “Job one is get out of that cave."

    Addiction is a debilitating condition that so many people face — almost 21 million Americans deal with at least one.

    man holding his head in his hands
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    Yet, due to many factors, including the social stigma around it, only 10% seek treatment.

    Most people at least know someone who suffers from an addiction, but it's often not talked about in our culture. In an effort to help break barriers associated with addiction, here are 19 celebs who have been super open about their experiences!

    1. Demi Lovato

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    Struggling with addiction since 2010, Demi has spoken again and again about her experience in an effort to empower herself and help others. Speaking about her newest documentary, Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil, in which she goes into detail about her past struggles with addiction, Demi said, "I wanted to reveal it all for my fans and say this is who I am and this is where I'm at today and this is the journey that got me here, and if it helps you, then I hope that it can, because that was ultimately my purpose in putting this out." Her openness has helped fans everywhere, many of whom attribute their own sobriety and recovery to her sharing her story.

    2. Robert Downey Jr.

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    Robert's recovery story is one of the most classic Hollywood redemption stories: he started out as a promising young actor before drug addiction and jail time made him unemployable. With the help of a couple people who took a chance on him and his own sobriety, Robert was able to come back into the game and soon became the highest paid male actor for years. Speaking to Vanity Fair, Downey Jr. said, “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."

    3. Danny Trejo

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    Trejo was an addict as a teenager and spent time in and out of jail, crediting his initial move toward recovery to a former addict and inmate who came to speak at his jail. This led to 51 years (and counting) of sobriety for Trejo, who has become a beloved actor and business owner. Trejo attributes his lasting sobriety to associating with the right people and to living a life trying to help others: “Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of helping someone else — everything. That’s the way I live my life.”

    4. Drew Barrymore

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    Barrymore publicly suffered a fall from grace after finding intense fame as a child. After years of alcohol and drug addiction, she ended up being committed to a "psychiatric ward" by her mother for 18 months and then emancipated, being turned away at auditions and cleaning toilets to make money. However, she turned things around when she started her own production company and became a rom-com darling. Even though she's shed her addiction, she's always been open about it. Speaking to The Guardian about what she'll do when her kids are older and can google her, she said, "I’m not going to pretend I am not who I am. I’m going to show them how it got me to where I am now.” She even wrote a book about her experience called Little Girl Lost.

    5. Daniel Radcliffe

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    Radcliffe has been pretty open about his struggles with alcoholism near the end of his time on Harry Potter, stressing that panic over what to do with his career and ridicule from fans, as well as a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, drove him to drink more and more leading up to the end of the saga. He said it had to do with "not being comfortable enough in who I was to remain sober.” Eventually, he was able to quit with the help of his friends, though it took multiple attempts — he says he's now much happier. He has also defended other child stars suffering from alcoholism and addiction, saying "there's no blueprint" for what path to follow.

    6. Dax Shephard

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    Dax has been super open about his recovery process and setbacks, but one of my favorite interviews is when he spoke to The Off Camera Show about how rock bottom isn't always the turning point, discussing instead a point when he realized he had all he'd ever wanted and it still wasn't enough. "I think a lot of us proceed through life thinking, we would be happy if, we would have self-esteem if, we would know contentment if, and those are illusions that most people don't get to find out are illusions. And I got to find out it's an illusion." He talked about realizing something was fundamentally wrong and it wasn't circumstantial, which I think is a powerful lesson not just for addicts, but anyone who is dealing with unhappiness or depression.

    7. Matthew Perry

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    Perry has had some similar words about addiction, saying that he thought fame would fulfill all aspects of his life. He spent years dealing with addiction but was able to quit and eventually ran a sober living facility, receiving an award from The Phoenix House for his contributions. Talking about his focus on giving back to the community, Perry told the Hollywood Reporter, "I've had a lot of ups and downs in my life and a lot of wonderful accolades, but the best thing about me is that if an alcoholic comes up to me and says, 'Will you help me stop drinking?' I will say, 'Yes. I know how to do that.'"

    8. Simon Pegg

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    Pegg also talked about realizing that achieving a milestone or something good happening wouldn't make his life better, in particular in relation to the birth of his daughter: “It was the most cosmic experience of my life. I thought it would fix things and it just didn’t. Because it can’t. Nothing can, other than a dedicated approach, whether that’s therapy or medication or whatever.” He credited AA and rehab with helping him, and said “I’m not ashamed of what happened. And I think if anyone finds any relationship to it, then it might motivate them to get well."

    9. Elton John

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    Elton famously struggled with addiction (you can see much of this story told in Rocketman). He told Variety in 2019, "When you come out of treatment, it’s like being reborn. You are so stripped down and completely vulnerable. It’s like starting life over with a new rule book for living," mentioning that AA requires you to live in the moment. He also discussed fear that he would never be "Elton John" again: "If the universe meant for me to continue performing and creating new music, I knew it would happen when it was meant to happen." As it turned out, Elton was still Elton when in recovery, and he went on to write and perform massive hits.

    10. Jamie Lee Curtis

    Albert L. Ortega / Getty Images

    Jamie Lee Curtis, who struggled with an alcohol and pill addiction for years without telling anybody, talked to Variety about defining herself as an addict: "To call yourself an alcoholic or a drug addict is a badge of honor. It is a way of acknowledging something that is a profound statement and can be, for many people, life-changing. Because the secret, the shameful secret, is the reason why it is such a pervasive illness in our industry — in every industry, in every socioeconomic stratum, in every country in the world. It is the secret shame that keeps people locked up in their disease." She discussed the growth and metamorphosis that happened in the years after seeking treatment, attributing it to her sobriety.

    11. Carrie Fisher

    Jason LaVeris / FilmMagic via Getty Images

    Carrie was always super open about both her drug addiction and her bipolar disorder diagnosis in interviews in a way that helped so many fans, especially in a time when these conversations were not really happening. I think her legacy is best summed up in a statement from her daughter, Billie Lourd, after her death: "She was purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases. She talked about the shame that torments people and their families confronted by these diseases. I know my mom, she’d want her death to encourage people to be open about their struggles. Seek help, fight for government funding for mental health programs. Shame and those social stigmas are the enemies of progress to solutions and ultimately a cure."

    12. Eva Mendes

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    Mendes checked into a rehab facility in 2008 for personal issues. Speaking to Interview magazine afterward, Mendes spoke about addiction in general (but still really powerful) terms. She said, "The other day, I was reading an article. I don’t even remember who the actress was, but she’s been around for a long time. She said something like, 'I’m proud that I’ve had a whole career without making it to rehab.' I thought, that’s such a negative twist on it. I’m proud of people who have the determination and the fearlessness to actually go and face their demons and get better. This is a life-or-death situation."

    13. Brad Pitt

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    Brad talked to GQ about his alcoholism, saying that it had to do with running from his feelings, and he expressed how happy he was to be done with that. "I've got my feelings in my fingertips again. I think that's part of the human challenge: You either deny them all of your life or you answer them and evolve." He also credited Bradley Cooper with helping him quit drinking, which just goes to show the impact a support system can have.

    14. Justin Bieber

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    Bieber, like many others on this list, suffered a pretty public fall from grace after becoming famous really young and later dealing with an arrest and drug addiction. He spoke at length about his drug addictions and mental health journey in Justin Bieber: Seasons, ending "The Dark Season" segment with discussing the importance of focusing on your passions and gifts, and leaving viewers with this message: "It might not seem that hard to some people to just get out of bed in the morning, but it's been really hard for me to just get out of my bed. And I know a lot of people feel that same way, so I just also want to say that you're not there alone in that, you know? There's people that are going through it with you. Life is worth living."

    15. Zac Efron

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    Efron called his battle with addiction a "never-ending struggle," but also acknowledged how much therapy, AA, and a strict schedule has changed his life: "I'm much more comfortable in my own skin. Things are so much easier now." Speaking about his struggles, Efron added, "Without those moments where you feel like your lowest, it's impossible to appreciate the high ones," saying he's now at his happiest and healthiest.

    16. Samuel L. Jackson

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    Jackson has talked specifically about how getting sober helped him as an actor: "Before, I used to do stuff on stage and kinda look for the reaction from the audience — ‘Aha! I got ’em good that time!’ And once I was able to ignore that, and focus on the relationships with the people I was onstage with, I was finally able to blossom into whatever I might think I am now.” He's now a major award-winning actor, joking that although he doesn't have an Oscar, most people probably think he does.

    17. Fergie

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    Fergie spoke with iNews about how drugs made her hallucinate and the day she decided she didn't want to live that way anymore: “The drugs thing, it was a hell of a lot of fun…until it wasn’t. But you know what, I thank the day it happened to me. Because that’s my strength, my faith, my hope for something better.” She's now been clean for about 20 years, in which time she's seen a ton of success.

    18. Naomi Campbell

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    Campell talked to Vogue about her embarrassment over her notorious temper when she was on drugs and alcohol: "The time between 1998 and 2005 was especially bad. During that time, I avoided looking in the mirror, because I didn't like the person who was looking back at me. To be honest, there were times I thought I wouldn't survive." However, she joined AA and talked about finding what she truly wanted and wanting to lead a calm life. She also talked about the importance of taking responsibility for your own actions, and is now clean and sober.

    19. And finally, Jane Fonda

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    After her 80th birthday, Fonda told People, "I assumed I wouldn't live very long and that I would die lonely and an addict of some sort. I didn't think if I did live this long, that I would be vibrant and healthy and still working. I'm grateful." Her life story is the picture of inspiration, and she discusses being proud of all the growth she's had over the years: "I’ve really worked hard to get better as a human being.”

    If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction, here are some resources that might be of help:

    Find an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting group near you here.

    Talk to a representative from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on their free, confidential, 24/7 national helpline by calling 1-800-662-HELP.

    Or if you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts, call or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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