1. Bradley Cooper
Bradley Cooper is known for his comedic film roles. But like most of us, Cooper’s life has had its ups and downs. He is a recovering from alcoholism and has been sober for over a decade. In 2015, he described how alcohol affected virtually everything in his life, “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. I never would have been able to have the relationships that I do. I never would have been able to take care of my father the way I did when he was sick. So many things.” Cooper’s statements attest to the fact that alcohol affects more than just yourself — it also affects those around you.
2. Daniel Radcliffe
The beloved star of the “Harry Potter” movies has struggled, like many other child actors, growing up in show business. While his character Harry was innocent and heroic, for Daniel Radcliffe, real-life challenges started affecting him, namely his addiction to alcohol. In a 2012 interview published in ShortList magazine, Radcliffe stated how he came to the realization that “the drinking was unhealthy and damaging to my body and my social life,” and how he had become “a recluse at 20.” He even admitted how he used to drink before going on the set, and how he confided in co-star Gary Oldman who’d also be addicted to alcohol.
Despite being sober, Radcliffe admits it’s not easy to maintain his sobriety at events where there’s alcohol. One of the greatest lessons he’s learned is that he had to want a sober life for himself. He stated in the same interview, “I had to stop myself. And stopping has shown me a world of happiness that I didn’t think was possible.” This is a lesson that we can all learn from Radcliffe.
3. Carrie Fisher
Aside from her fame as Princess Leia in “Star Wars”, Carrie Fisher was also well-known for her public statements about her health and addictions. This included alcohol. In 2008 she even published a book about her struggles, called “Wishful Drinking”. In the book, she writes “Happy is one of the many things I'm likely to be over the course of a day and certainly over the course of a lifetime. But I think if you have the expectation that you're going to be happy throughout your life — more to the point, if you have a need to be comfortable all the time — well, among other things, you have the makings of a classic drug addict or alcoholic.” Indeed, alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism, and Fisher describes — in her usual humorous fashion — how drinking can make this worse.
Tragically, Fisher died of a heart attack in December 2016. It is thought that a relapse was partially to blame. Fans continue to mourn the loss of the endearing actress.
4. Billy Joel
Famous pop/rock musician Billy Joel has admitted 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.
In a 2013 interview with The New York Times Magazine, Joel muses about his past drinking habits: “I don’t know why I drank so much I don’t subscribe to A.A., I don’t subscribe to 12-step stuff. Sometimes I just overdid it … but it wasn’t consistent, it would be periods of time, during a divorce or something.” Even if the drinking wasn’t consistent, the binge-drinking Joel describes here is another form of alcohol addiction.
5. Stephen King
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.
In 2013, King opened up to The Guardian about his former alcohol addiction, describing how he’s not ashamed of his past. He said, “There's a thing in AA, something they read in a lot of meetings, “The Promises.” Most of those promises have come true in my life, We'll come to know a new freedom and new happiness, that's true. But it also says in there, “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. And I have no wish to shut the door on the past. I have been pretty upfront about my past. But do I regret? I do. I do. I regret the necessity.” King’s not about to pretend he didn’t have struggles with alcohol, nor does he think he should hide it, either. It’s a part of who he is, and he’s been sober ever since his family intervention.
6. Robin Williams
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. After that, the late actor struggled off and on with alcohol for years until his death in 2014. He even regularly highlighted these struggles as a part of his stand-up routines. In a 2006 interview with Diane Sawyer, Williams talked about the reality that drinking doesn’t always have a reason behind it, saying “It's [addiction] — not caused by anything, it's just there,” Williams said. “It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it's not OK. Then you realize, ‘Where am I? I didn't realize I was in Cleveland.’” Sadly, Williams died in 2014. He was reported to have just entered rehab again shortly before his death.
7. Betty Ford
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 others overcome substance and alcohol abuse.
Perhaps Ford’s greatest legacy was the honesty she brought to the American idea of alcoholism. Alcohol addiction can happen to anyone. She was quoted as saying “My makeup wasn't smeared, I wasn't disheveled, I behaved politely, and I never finished off a bottle, so how could I be alcoholic?” In other words, there are no stereotypical symptoms of alcoholism. Even being first lady of the United States doesn’t make you immune to alcoholism.
8. Mel Gibson
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 sought professional help, and checked himself into rehab for his alcohol problem.
In 2016, The Fix reported Gibson laying out the harsh reality that comes with thinking about quitting alcohol. “They say there’s only three options: You go insane, you die, or you quit.”
9. Lindsay Lohan
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. In 2014, Lohan had a public relapse on her reality show, demonstrating how beating alcohol addiction is indeed an ongoing battle.
Lohan has also been honest about other dangers alcohol can pose. In a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Lohan said that alcohol “was a gateway to other things for me … I tried cocaine with alcohol.”
10. David Hasselhoff
Since his starring role on “Baywatch”, David Hasselhoff 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.
In 2015, he told the Mirror “It is my responsibility to do the best I can and to take it one day at a time. But alcohol can become deadly. The scariest is when you go into a meeting and you’re like, ‘Where’s Steve?’ and they say, ‘Oh Steve died last night’. But you just met him yesterday! It’s a very scary, deadly thing that needs to be addressed.” Indeed, Hasselhoff takes his battles with alcohol much more seriously these days, and has also decided to transform his lifestyle completely with diet and exercise.
Resources for treating alcoholism
These celebrities illustrate that alcohol is often used to self-medicate — to alleviate life’s stressors. Their honesty about their struggles are both heartbreaking and endearing. You may find some inspiration from celebrities who have publicly talked about these struggles.
When alcohol consumption becomes abusive, it’s time to seek treatment. It’s 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.