Substance use is a monster, addiction a persistent demon, and yet, Hollywood always seems to find a means of masking the two with lavish charm and glamour. All the while, the media continues to do just the opposite. They’re all too eager to take down the tragic stories of celebrities’ drug use—another overdose, another relapse—as tabloid train wrecks. They fail to see these stars as actual human beings who are conflicted with the reality of a very serious illness called addiction. Unfortunately, we, as a culture, absorb these misrepresentations.
Rather than accepting the desensitization or commercialization of drug abuse, society must strip it of its stigma. Addiction, inherently, is a disease of the brain. It is not a cry for attention, but instead, a subject that should be talked about and talked out. There is no sense in keeping quiet; the more it is addressed, the more the world will understand its nature.
While we have sadly seen stars unravel over recent years-- Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cory Monteith, Whitney Houston— the honest truth of addiction has notably surfaced across television screens. Many sober celebrities today are starting to use their status to inform the world of the dark reality of addiction, and the light of hope that drug treatment can bring. Addiction can no longer be shadowed by Hollywood: role models are diminishing, icons are dying, and people are losing hope. Figures such as Eminem and Russell Brand realize this, and are now speaking openly, and candidly, about their journey towards a healthy recovery. They have taken the road less traveled, and have made a point to share that walk with the world.
Having been sober for over 11 years, this English comedian and activist is very open about his recovery from heroin and alcohol. Even more so, he is extremely passionate about the world’s view of addiction and aims to teach others that addicts are not bad people, but rather, sick ones. “If anything positive can come of the death of Philip Seymour, it’s that. His death doesn’t make sense unless you accept that addiction is an illness. It doesn’t make sense any other way. Otherwise, you think ‘hang on a minute why he’d do that?’”
His goal is for others to seek recovery, rehabilitation, and find support, he explains in an interview with the Guardian: “The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help, they have no hope.”
On its Initiation:
Alcohol affects everyone differently, and it is important to remember that addiction is an inherent disease that can manifest itself in anyone, of any age. Upon screening Harry Potter, Radcliffe admits to becoming a recluse at a mere 20 years old. The film, he explains, brought about an older, experienced group of peers. “I heard all their amazing stories about their drunken nights. That was what I was desperately trying to pursue…There were a few years there when I was just so enamored with the idea of living some sort of famous person’s lifestyle that really isn’t suited to me.” His addictive personality inhibited his career as an actor, and that was when Radcliffe realized that for him, this was not recreational play. Substance use was serious.
On Seeking Help:
While he may be best known for his drunken, unruly adventures in 2009’s The Hangover, Bradley Cooper has been committed to a sober lifestyle since he first entered rehab in 2006. His addiction stemmed from both a dangerous affinity for alcohol, as well as a battle of his own: who is he to the rest of the world? In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Cooper admits, "I was so concerned of what you thought of me, how I was coming across, how I would survive the day. I always felt like an outsider. I just lived in my head. I realized I wasn't going to live up to my potential, and that scared the hell out of me.”
On the Realization:
At age 14, Farrell started his drinking as a social endeavor. As he got older, his nights grew longer. He would leave his friends and go home only to drink more. “For people who drink too much, the problem isn’t really about booze. It’s about an inability to deal with life… what giving up booze does is allow you to look at yourself through an untainted mirror for the first time.” Through this mirror, Farrell found himself again. He’s been sober for eight consecutive years.
From his first big-screen debut on The Outsiders in 1983, Lowe had been exposed and consequently subscribed to the so-called luxuries of boozing and drug using as a young celebrity. His habit of heavy drinking spiraled into a scandalous sex-tape, which further led him to reevaluate his life, his priorities, and his sense of self-worth. He has now been sober for 25 years and counting, and is a strong believer that recovery begins with oneself: "Problem is, people go into rehab and they're not ready. You want to get sober for your parents, you want to get sober for your job, you want to get sober for the cops, you want to get sober to protect your image. A lot of good reasons, by the way, but unfortunately, the only thing that works is that you have to want to get sober for you."
On Finding Support:
With recent albums entitled “Relapse” and “Recovery,” Eminem’s journey towards sobriety is perhaps one of the most publicized and recognized today: In 2007, Marshall Mathers came face-to-face with a nearly fatal drug overdose caused by methadone. He relapsed only one month later, but the near-death experience left him shaken. In 2008, the rapper hospitalized himself; he went through rehab, and further completed the 12-step process of a recovering addict. He has remained sober ever since, and highly attributes that sobriety to his daughter, to his fans, and to his sponsor, Elton John, who had also been a subject of celebrity addiction and recovery himself.
“[Elton] usually calls me once a week to check on me, just to make sure I’m on the up-and-up. He was actually one of the first people I called when I wanted to get clean. He was hipping me to things, like, “You’re going to see nature that you never noticed before.” Mathers revealed to Rolling Stone, “Even little things—trees, the color of leaves. I --- love leaves now, man. I feel like I’ve been neglecting leaves for a long time.”
Hollywood has continuously tried to tiptoe over the truths of addiction, but now sober celebrities are revealing all of its imperfections and its challenges. They are also sharing their message for hope: recovery is possible. Recognition that one needs help, and that one subsequently seeks that help, is one of the first steps to getting there. Many individuals battling addiction do not want to admit they have lost control, or that they have a problem to begin with. It takes courage, it takes strength, and it doesn’t take a spotlight or great wealth to realize that this addiction is a reality. It can happen to you or a loved one. It is important to be educated. Call Turnbridge today at 1-877-581-1793 for more information regarding our addiction treatment program designed specifically for young men.