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9 Celebrities Who Overcame Their Heroin Drug Addiction

drug addiction celebrities

In the past, many famous people have kept quiet about their addictions. Thanks to the information age, many celebs have now opened up about their addictions.

When searching for famous people and celebrities who overcame heroin addiction, it’s sad to find out that so many died at a young age. Fortunately, there are others who have heroically battled their addiction and learned to thrive in spite of it.

Let’s take a look at those who have had a successful journey to sobriety and lessons that we can learn from them deciding to live a life that is clean and sober.

celebrities overcame heroin addiction


Here are 9 Famous People Who Successfully Recovered From a Drug Addiction to Heroin

1. Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. is Hollywood’s highest-paid actor, famed for his roles as Iron Man in Marvel movies.

Downey’s story of addiction began decades before his rise to fame when he was in high school. Things changed when Robert Downey Jr. was arrested for possession of both heroin and crack cocaine in April 1996 and ordered to spend time in rehab.

It took several escapes from rehab and a year in jail before Downey would overcome his addictions. In 2002, after a stay in rehab, Robert Downey Jr. finally announced that he had made a full recovery. When speaking about his struggle with addiction Downey told Vanity Fair:

“It’s perfectly normal for people to be obsessive about something for a period of time, then leave it alone.”

2. Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato’s struggles with addiction got out of control after her rise to fame as a children’s television actress. Now in her late 20s, Lovato began using cocaine at age 17.

At the age of 25, Lovato was hospitalized due to a suspected heroin overdose. This was after celebrating 6 years of sobriety. Lovato has since made major changes in her life and reports that she will no longer take life for granted.

Demi Lovato recently stated:

“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 and have not done yet.”

3. Macklemore (Benjamin Hammond Haggerty)

Although Macklemore wasn’t specifically addicted to heroin, he did take OxyContin, which he affectionately calls “synthetic heroin.”

His story of addiction began as a 13-year old who drank alcohol. Macklemore is a famous rapper who turned to rehab to overcome his addictions which were negatively affecting his career and relationships.

Macklemore released a documentary with Ryan Lewis and President Barack Obama called “Prescription for Change: Ending America’s Opioid Crisis,” in 2016. When speaking about addiction Macklemore stated:

“It’s a progressive disease, it gets worse with time. And I always felt that I could control it by myself, that I could take this drug out or just do this, but it didn’t work and it got worse… Going to a treatment facility, I was given the tools and the counseling to figure out how to stay sober.”

4. Nicole Richie

Nicole Richie is an American TV personality and fashion designer. Richie is the daughter of the famous singer-songwriter Lionel Richie.

Nicole Richie, was arrested for heroin possession and jailed for driving under the influence. Her dad famously canceled his tour in 2005 and checked into rehab with his daughter. When talking about her addiction she said:

“What I can do is use that experience as a tool for when my kids get older. They know that people have died from drugs because they go to school and it happens.”

5. Steven Tyler

If you don’t know the name Steven Tyler you’d recognize his face as the lead singer of the rock band Aerosmith.

Steven Tyler is now in his 70s and has battled addictions to heroin, alcohol, cocaine and prescription opioids. Tyler has relapsed many times, but now he is proud to be 9 years sober. Speaking of his addictions Tyler stated:

“I’m telling you all my truth. I am a drug addict and alcoholic, and fighting it every day.”

6. Russell Brand

Russell Brand is an English comedian who is open about his struggles with addiction. Brand says that he’s taken every drug in the book.

He has also written a book about his recovery called “Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions.” His addiction to heroin was a reason he lost his job at MTV, friends, and girlfriends.

His manager told him that he’d either end up in prison, a lunatic asylum or graveyard if he didn’t clean up his act. So he got treatment to overcome his addictions.

“When I started, I took it one day at a time,” he said. “Ultimately, I found that spirituality worked for me.”

7. Courtney Love

Courtney Love is a successful American singer-songwriter and actress. She famously exposed that she had been taking heroin when she was pregnant with her daughter Frances Bean.

Love has struggled with substance abuse all of her life but managed to fight through it and survive. Love has been sober since she went into rehabilitation in 2007.

Courtney Love credits her Buddhist chanting and practices for helping her through recovery.

8. Tatum O’Neal

Tatum O’Neal is an American actress and author. O’Neal began using at an early age, then got sober to start a family.

Sadly, she relapsed and lost her children because of her heroin use, but thankfully she later got them back. O’Neal was the youngest actress to ever win an academy award.

“Oftentimes, I fail because I know how high the pressure is. But I won’t stop, because my mother was marginalized by her addiction.”

9. Keith Richards

Keith Richards is an English Musician, famous for his roles as guitarist and vocalist in The Rolling Stones. Richards stopped using heroin back in 1978. This is what Richards had to say about his drug abuse and addiction:

“I’ve got to confess, I was very interested in what I could take and what I could do. I looked upon the body as a laboratory — I used to throw in this chemical and then that one to see what would happen; I was intrigued by that. What one would work against another; I’ve got a bit of alchemist in me that way. But all experiments must come to an end.”

Heroin addiction can be one of the most dangerous of all addictions, and also at the top of list of most difficult to overcome. But recovery can be achieved with proper treatment and a strong will to survive.

It isn’t easy being in the spotlight all the time, especially when dealing with a dependence to drugs or alcohol. We commend all of these celebrities, not only for overcoming their heroin addiction, but also for being open about their struggles and showing others that recovery is possible.

Photo Credits:

  • Robert Downey Jr. by Edgar Meritano
  • Demi Lovato by Ali Shaker/VOA
  • Macklemore by Drew of The Come Up Show
  • Nicole Richie by by Sgt. Michael Connors
  • Steven Tyler by Gage Skidmore
  • Russell Brand by Eva Rinaldi
  • Courtney Love by Manfred Werner
  • Tatum O’Neal by John Mathew Smith
  • Keith Richards by Jerzy Bednarski
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