If you pick up any pop culture magazine or catch an episode of TMZ, you’ll likely hear or see the phrase, “Celebrities, they’re just like us”, and that is very true. They go grocery shopping, take out the garbage, and drive the carpool to school. They also feel the same emotional struggles as we do, suffering with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. Most importantly, even though they have money and status, they are not exempt to the world of addiction and substance abuse.
This country crooner gives off what seems to be that boy next door image with that wholesome smile and twinkle in his eye. Urban grew up the son of an alcoholic father. He always dreamed of being a country musician and decided if he was ever going to make it big, he was going to have to make the long journey from New Zealand to Nashville Tennessee. It only took one year before Urban was recording his first hit country album and the partying really started to ramp up. Keith’s drinking had gotten out of control and his love of cocaine and ecstasy began to take over. After meeting his wife Nicole, the love of his life, Keith knew something had to change. After 3 stents in rehab, the message finally sunk in. “I knew I wasn’t living my full potential and that was starting to get to me. I felt enslaved by my addiction and, even though I was famous, I was living a very small life.” Keith Urban has been in recovery for 13years.
The daughter of the world famous singer, Lionel Richie, this Simple Life star appeared to have it all and by her own admissions, that was the problem. “ I got too much too fast and nothing really excited me anymore. I was looking for excitement and creating drama in very dangerous ways.” Richie’s alcohol and marijuana use started at 13 and by 18 years old she admitted to almost daily use of cocaine to keep her partying lifestyle of excess going. She went into rehab but, did it just to appease her family. Not long after she had 2 arrests, one for possession of heroin and a few years later she was arrested for DUI. That was the point she decided enough was enough. She made the conscious decision to never use again. “I had to get off of the drug. This wasn’t living life, this was heroin.” Richie has been in recovery for 13 years.
President George W Bush
Not even the leader of the United States of America is exempt when it comes to escaping the grips of addiction. The former president has made it very well known that he no longer drinks. Although he has not named names, he has admitted that alcoholism does run in his family. Starting in high school and carrying all through college, he just seemed to be one of the “fun guys”, always down for a laugh and a beer. It wasn’t until later in life that he himself began to notice the error of his ways and how much he hated waking up with a hangover. After a wild and alcohol filled 40th birthday weekend, he decided enough was enough. He sought spiritual guidance and has never touched a drop of alcohol since. “What influenced me was spirituality which led me to believe if you can change your heart, you can change your behavior.” President Bush has been sober for 32 years.
Brancato got his big acting break as a teenager starring alongside Robert De Niro in the mob movie classic, A Bronx Tale. It was on the set of the movie that he was first introduced to drugs and alcohol. After the movie was released, Brancato’s acting talent was realized and he was offered roles in other movies such as Renaissance Man and Crimson Tide. However, as his star started to rise, so did his curiosity for drugs and alcohol. Brancato was doing anything he could get his hands on, alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy, crack, and heroin. He was using such a large quantity at such an alarming rate that he began to experience cocaine psychosis and at one point jumped out of a moving car that was going 60 miles per hour. In 2005, Brancato and a friend made the decision to break into another friend’s home in an effort to steal drugs. A nearby neighbor called the police and Brancato and friend were confronted in the dark outside the home. Although the officer warned the pair not to move, Brancato did and was shot three times. Brancato’s friend fatally shot the officer and is serving life in prison and Brancato served ten years and was released in 2013. With a new lease on life, Brancato is dedicated to fighting the opioid epidemic and he made a movie about his life of addiction, Wasted Talent. “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent and, the choices you make will shape your life forever.” Lillo Brancato has been in recovery for 12 years.
Not long ago, this singer admitted her relapse on social media through her song lyrics Sober. Lovato has been an open book with the public when it comes to her life struggles, from eating disorders to self-harm to her diagnosis of bipolar to her battle with addiction, the singer has always shared her story in an effort to give others hope. Lovato went to rehab at the age of 17 for cocaine use and an eating disorder. Though she kicked the habit, her life wasn’t all that meets the eye because, as many addicts do, she was living a lie for a period of time. When she released her song Sober in 2018, she announced to the world that she had relapsed after 6 years of sobriety. The world applauded her for being candid but, not long after, the star overdosed on heroin and was rushed to the hospital. After 90 days in a treatment center, Lovato came out ready to own her truth and take back his life in recovery. “I look forward to the day where I can say I came out on the other side.” Demi Lovato has 7 months clean and sober.
The actor has recently been in the news for his most current relapse. While being a celebrity may have its perks, having your addiction on constant display is not one of them and, Affleck knows this all too well, over the past decade, his struggle with alcohol and gambling has been splashed across every tabloid magazine you can find. Affleck is the son of what he called a “real alcoholic.” His father drank all day every day and he claimed that he made no secret about it. To his Affleck’s amazement, his father has been sober for decades and he looks to him for inspiration. Affleck has had an issue with alcohol for as long as he can remember but, he stopped drinking at the age of 24, shortly after the huge success of Good Will Hunting which he wrote and starred in alongside his best friend, Matt Damon. Although he tried, after a public breakup in 2001, he went back to drinking and was taken to rehab by a friend to try and get his life back together. From 2004-2018, Affleck worked hard on his recovery though he admits he wasn’t perfect. At the end of 2018, Affleck returned to rehab in an effort to get sober for his children and for himself. “I had a problem and I really want to address it and I take some pride in that,” he told Hoda Kotb. “It’s about yourself, your life, your family… we encounter these kinds of hurdles and we have to deal with them. I mean, some people are sort of uncomfortable, but it doesn’t really bother me to talk about alcoholism. Being an alcoholic is part of my life; it’s something I deal with.” Ben Affleck has 6 months sober.
Addiction has no face, no name, no guidelines or parameters for who it affects. Our family, our friends, our coworkers, ourselves, and even our favorite celebrities can be affected and need help in their fight. Bear in mind, addiction is a disease but, recovery is a choice.
Author: Lisa Musialowicz – Footprints to Recovery – Director of Alumni