Famous Faces of Alcoholism
Learn about celebrities who have struggled with alcoholism.
Alcoholism, like smoking, is a physical addiction affecting the physical health, mental health, and social, familial, or work-related responsibilities of an individual. Alcohol dominates an alcoholic’s life and relationships. This can be extremely detrimental to a celebrity’s career, personal life, and public life, and can threaten to impede their success.
Click "next" to see how alcoholism has affected these celebrities.
The famed American novelist and short story writer, whose works include Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood, publicly struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction. He underwent treatment in the 1970s, but his health was so compromised that he died in 1984 at the age of 59. Capote’s substance problems were part of what kept him from completing Answered Prayers, his legendarily unfinished novel.
Photo courtesy of Deedar70 (CC BY-SA 3.0).
Famous pop/rock musician Billy Joel has admitted in the past to struggling with alcohol abuse in his adult life. Drinking has, apparently, gotten in the way of his career and personal relationships. Fellow musician (and frequent touring partner) Elton John begged Joel to get treatment for alcoholism. In an early 2011 issue of Rolling Stone, John is quoted as saying that Joel needed to check into “tough” rehab, and that alcoholism was getting in the way of his life and career. Meanwhile, Joel denies that he currently has an alcohol problem.
Photo courtesy of Pinguino (CC BY 2.0).
World-famous horror novelist Stephen King struggled with drugs and alcohol for a considerable period of time. In 1987, King’s family and friends staged an intervention, dumping evidence of his addictions in front of him. King immediately sought help and quit all forms of drugs and alcohol in the late 1980s. He has been sober ever since.
Photo courtesy of John J. Kruzel/American Forces Press Service.
The famous comedian abused cocaine and alcohol early in his career, but quit when friend and fellow comedian, John Belushi, died of a cocaine and heroin overdose in 1982. When he began slipping into alcoholism again in 2006, he immediately checked himself into rehab. Today, he's alcohol-free.
Betty Ford, the wife of former President Gerald Ford, suffered from alcoholism and addiction to painkillers. She raised public awareness of addiction by confessing to her long-time battle with alcoholism in the 1970s. When she finally recovered, she established the Betty Ford Center to help other sufferers overcome their substance and alcohol abuse.
Mel Gibson has publicly admitted to battling alcoholism for all of his adult life. He was arrested in 2009 for driving under the influence. In a previous 2006 arrest made on the basis of suspected drunk driving, the arresting officer claimed he made anti-Semitic remarks. In the past, Gibson has sought professional help and checked himself into rehab for his alcohol problem.
2007 mugshot courtesy of the LA County Sheriff's department.
The young starlet, like many child actresses, has publicly struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. Lohan has to work hard to stay sober and has already had one failed attempt at rehab in 2011. In 2010, she was forced by court order to wear an alcohol detection bracelet to monitor her alcohol consumption. As of early 2013, she was still on probation for drunk-driving charges.
Since his starring role on Baywatch, David Hasselhoff has unfortunately become notorious for his alcoholism. A home video of a drunken Hasselhoff went viral in 2007, receiving airtime on countless news programs and across the Internet. His visitation rights with his daughters were temporarily suspended, forcing him to seek serious help for his addiction.
Ernest Hemingway is one of the world’s most famous literary alcoholics. He drank heavily throughout his life, including the years he spent writing his masterpieces. He suffered from severe mental and physical problems as he aged, aggravated by his drinking, and eventually committed suicide at age 61. His story is, in many ways, a sad one, but despite mental illness and alcoholism, he penned many iconic works of fiction before his passing.
Resources for Treating Alcoholism
These celebrities illustrate that alcohol is often used to self-medicate: to alleviate the stressors found in one’s life. But when this use becomes abusive, it is time to seek treatment. It is important to address the underlying issues in order to treat alcohol addiction. Learn more about alcohol abuse and addiction and explore treatment options to avoid negative health outcomes.