An estimated 28.3 million people in the U.S. had an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2020.1 Alcohol misuse is a serious problem that can affect anyone, even Hollywood celebrities.
The lifestyle and pressure associated with fame may put some people at increased risk for drug and/or alcohol addiction, particularly younger stars. The highest percentage for AUD in 2020 was in young people, aged 18 to 25.1
Many stars have overcome their struggle with alcohol, while others continue to struggle or experience severe consequences.
Celebrities who Struggle with Alcohol Addiction
Zac Efron, the former teenage star of High School Musical, has spoken recently about his struggle with alcohol and drugs. Following a high-profile trip to rehab, Efron appeared to go on drinking and even injured himself so severely in a fall that doctors had to wire his jaw shut.
Efron is now leading a healthier lifestyle. He has joined Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and is seeing a therapist. He tells the Hollywood Reporter that addiction is “a never-ending struggle.”2
Amy Winehouse, a five-time Grammy Award winner, is remembered for songs like “Rehab,” which contain lyrics about refusing treatment for drug and alcohol misuse. Winehouse struggled publicly with alcohol and drug addiction throughout the last years of her life. Like other famous people with addiction, her health deteriorated quickly. In 2011, at the age of 27, she died from alcohol poisoning.3
Daniel Radcliffe, who rose to mega-stardom playing the world’s most famous wizard, Harry Potter, admits that growing up in the spotlight can be difficult. Radcliffe opened up in recent years about his struggles with drinking during adolescence. He describes drinking heavily to deal with issues of self-consciousness and even recounts showing up to shoot Harry Potter while still drunk from the night before. Now in recovery, Radcliffe remembers becoming a recluse at age 20. He added that “I’m a fun, polite person, and it turned me into a rude bore.”4,16
Lindsay Lohan is another young child star who later suffered problems with alcohol misuse. Over the years, Lohan has been in and out of rehab. In 2013, she told Oprah Winfrey that her drug of choice was alcohol, and it was a “gateway” drug for cocaine. Later, in 2014, Lohan relapsed while filming a reality television show. Her ongoing struggle to get sober is an example of how hard it can be to overcome addiction.5, 14
More Articles on Famous Alcoholics and Addicts
Shia LaBeouf, a former Disney star turned blockbuster actor, has been struggling with alcohol misuse for some time. He has had several alcohol-related arrests, including one resulting from an incident of drunken rowdiness during a Broadway performance. His career has begun to suffer as a result, and in an interview with Variety, he admits that the big studio offers have stopped rolling in. Focusing now on indie films, LaBeouf attends Alcoholics Anonymous and has been sober for over a year and a half.6, 17
Bradley Cooper, famous for his roles in movies like The Hangover and A Star is Born, has been sober for more than a decade. After struggling with alcohol and an addiction to painkillers, Cooper got sober at age 29 and never looked back. In an interview with Barbara Walters, Cooper explains how life is better sober:
“I would never be sitting here with you, no way, no chance [if I hadn’t quit],” he said. “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.”7
Keith Urban, the country mega-star married to actress Nicole Kidman, struggled with alcohol and drug addiction for years. Urban made several trips to rehab before getting sober. He also had a difficult relapse shortly after his marriage to the actress. But, with treatment, Urban has achieved sobriety.8
Matthew Perry, who is now an addiction recovery advocate, struggled with serious addiction problems while filming the popular ’90s sitcom Friends. Known for his alcohol problems, Perry also struggled with an addiction to prescription opioids. After attending an inpatient rehab program, Perry got sober. He now describes a memory gap lasting roughly 3 years in which he was drinking and using prescription drugs so heavily that he can’t even remember shooting 3 seasons of Friends.9
In 2022, Perry released his memoir, Friends, Lovers and The Big Terrible Thing, which shares his struggle and near-death experience as a result of an opioid overdose.18
Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer with 23 gold medals, has struggled publicly with alcohol. In 2014, he pleaded guilty to drunk driving and was given a suspended sentence of 1 year in prison. He served a year and a half of probation while attending therapy and Alcoholics Anonymous. He also completed 45 days of inpatient addiction treatment at an Arizona treatment facility.10
Janeane Garofalo, the stand-up comedian, used to drink shots before going on stage. In an interview with The AV Club, she explains that she didn’t just drink to get the courage to go on stage–she drank nightly. However, she admits that alcohol did make her more confident during her stand-up routines. She quit drinking in 2001 with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous.12, 15
Chris Cornell, who was the frontman for Soundgarden and Audioslave, suffered from multiple addictions and passed away in May 2017. He said that alcohol is what led him to use other drugs. Both of his parents struggled with alcohol addiction, and he also suffered from depression. He was able to get his drinking under control through rehab but appears to have relapsed before his death.13
Mel Gibson has admitted to struggling with alcohol misuse. He was arrested for drunk driving in 2006 and went on an anti-Semitic tirade that sidelined his career. Over the years, Gibson has attended rehab programs and sought professional help. He has also discussed attending Alcoholics Anonymous and in 2016 said he had been sober for 10 years.11