Celebs Who Opened Up About Relapsing
This article contains mentions of drug and alcohol abuse.
The website DrugRehab.com shows stats released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse that says between 40 and 60 percent of people who try to free themselves of substance abuse relapse. And because of that kind of research, it’s safe to say the stigma of people relapsing has changed. These days, addiction is known as a disease, which is confirmed by The American Psychiatric Association and it’s not a sign of weakness or one making bad choices. So that could be why it seems more celebrities are opening up about relapsing after being sober for some time. And there are other reasons they may do so as well.
Some celebs said they opened up about their battle with sobriety because they wanted to help people, and others did it after explaining that they always want to be honest with their fans. Singer Keith Urban is one of those people, because in 2015 he told Rolling Stone that his wife, actor Nicole Kidman, helped him get sober after going to rehab for drugs and alcohol, then relapsing. “I caused the implosion of my fresh marriage,” Urban said about his substance abuse. “It survived, but it’s a miracle it did.” But what other famous people have been candid about their addiction struggles? We’ve gathered a list that details some of their history with substance abuse and how it affected both their personal and professional life.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Dax Shepard relapsed after having a motorcycle accident
Dax Shepard believes one of the best ways to help others with their addiction problems is to share his own experience. So that’s why in September of 2020, on his “Armchair Expert” podcast, the actor admitted to relapsing on drugs. Shepard has opened up to being addicted to cocaine and alcohol in the past, but this time it was pills that got the best of him when they were prescribed after a motorcycle accident. “So eight years into sobriety, I have not done a single shady thing. There was nothing gray,” said Shepard.
At first, the actor was taking the pills as prescribed, but that changed after he visited his father, who was going through chemotherapy. Shepard had to make sure that his dad was taking his medication as instructed, and that’s when things went wrong. “So I give him a bunch of Percocet and then I go, ‘I have a prescription for this, and I was in a motorcycle accident, and I’m gonna take some too,'” Shephard explained, also saying that he took double the number of pills that he was prescribed.
Kristen Bell also talked about Shepard’s relapse in a May 2021 issue of Self and said he gave her the green light to stay on him about his sobriety. “You can drug-test me whenever you want. I’m going to buy some tests. I’m going to have them in the house,” Bell said her husband told her.
Macklemore said he felt a lot of pressure
Macklemore certainly has an interesting career, because, on one hand, he has legions of fans who seem to love his brand of socially conscious pop-rap, but others constantly criticize that approach. And some of that backlash has made the Seattle artist fall back into an old drug habit, which he talked about during a 2015 interview with Complex. “I held it together for a while,” he explained. “But eventually I stopped going to my 12-step meetings. I was burnt out, I was super-stressed. We weren’t sleeping, doing a show every day, zigzagging all over the country. In terms of the media, I was getting put into a box that I never saw for myself … I just wanted to escape.”
Macklemore also said that he decided to smoke weed in his car one day, then within 24 hours, he was looking to get high all over again. “The next day it was like, ‘What’s up with the weed?’ And once I’m there, it’s over,” he explained. But the “Thrift Shop” rapper turned things around once he learned that he and his wife Tricia Davis were expecting their first child. The couple now has 2 children, Sloane Ava Simone and Colette Koala, and in April 2021 Davis announced on Instagram Stories (via People) that she’s pregnant with their third child. So after relapsing years ago, Macklemore said that he began going to 12-step meetings again and started doing yoga, which led to a healthier lifestyle.
Demi Lovato overdosed and was rushed to the hospital
July 24, 2018, was a scary day for Demi Lovato because that was when she was rushed to Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after suffering a drug overdose, as TMZ reported. According to BBC, the overdose was from Lovato taking opioids laced with fentanyl after being sober for six years. And the incident happened after she talked openly about being addicted to cocaine and Xanax as a teenager. “What was it that day when you’re six years sober, what happens that you just decide to throw it all away?” Ellen DeGeneres asked Lovato, while the singer visited her talk show.
“I have to preface it with the fact that, I got sober at 19,” Lovato answered, who also talked about addiction in her documentary “Dancing With the Devil.” “I got sober at an age where I wasn’t even legally allowed to drink, and I got the help that I needed at the time. And I took on the approach of a one-size-fits-all solution, which is sobriety, just sobriety.” But Lovato said once she developed an eating disorder, that game plan no longer worked, which made her sad. “I’m six years sober, but I’m miserable. I’m even more miserable than I was when I was drinking. Why am I sober?” she remembered thinking to herself. Lovato also spoke about her near-fatal overdose with People in March of 2021 and revealed that it caused her significant vision problems, hearing loss, and tinnitus.
Miley Cyrus said she 'fell off' during the pandemic
Miley Cyrus said she rid herself of alcohol when she was 26 years old because she didn’t want to join the “27 club,” which refers to famous artists like Jim Morrison, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain, who died at 27 years old. And all of those artists had a reputation for using substances heavily. But despite her plans to stay sober, the “Wrecking Ball” singer relapsed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she talked about during an interview with Rolling Stone, published in December 2020.
“It was really a struggle,” she recalled. “Mental health and anxiety and all that. I lost myself there, and now I’m back on five weeks [sober].” But Cyrus was quick to specify that she relapsed on alcohol, not drugs, saying that she hasn’t “done drugs in years.”
“I try to not be naïve,” she stated. “Things f***ing happen. But from sitting here with you right now, I would say it would have to be a cold day in hell for me to relapse on drugs.” And that wasn’t the first time the former Disney Channel star talked about giving up alcohol because she discussed it in June 2020 on “The Big Ticket” podcast and said besides hooch, she took a break from weed. “It’s been really important for me over the last year living a sober lifestyle, because I really wanted to polish up my craft,” said Cyrus.
Jeff Daniels was tired of being a good boy
For most, second acts in life are cool. A second act, of course, is the term used for someone starting a new career later on in life or getting a second chance to be successful in the field they’ve always been in. For actor Jeff Daniels, however, his second act caused a lot of stress, which led to an alcohol relapse in the early 2000s. He talked about that time of his life on the “Death, Sex & Money” podcast in 2016 while also explaining what led to his fall. See, Daniels isn’t like most successful actors because he chose to live in his hometown of Chelsea, Michigan, instead of Hollywood and ran his career from the Midwest. And because of that decision, his career slowed down at times.
But when the 2000s hit, work really picked up, which caused a lot of pressure and stress. So to cope, “The Newsroom” star would have a beer “just to take some of the stress away,” and that led to an official relapse after 14 years of sobriety. “I was two months into 50, and I was checking into a hotel room in some city,” he explained. “I’m throwing the suitcase on the bed, and I hear a voice behind me. And it’s me, clear as day, say, ‘Don’t you think you’ve punished yourself enough?’ And I stopped … I said, ‘Yeah, yeah I have.’ Mini-bar, here we go.” But Daniels shook his problem in three months after getting help.
Lil Xan kept his relapse a secret
Lil Xan began making a name for himself after dropping his EP “Citgo” in 2016, while also branding himself as an artist who enjoys drug use. His rap moniker is Xan, short for Xanax, after all, which is a brand name for the drug alprazolam —typically used to treat anxiety disorders, according to Cancer.gov. And, unfortunately, Xan didn’t use the name just for image purposes, because he indulged quite heavily in the drug.
But in 2019, he told TMZ that he eventually stopped cold turkey but relapsed. Xan then said that he decided to stop again after rapper Lil Peep died from an overdose of “fentanyl and generic Xanax” and Mac Miller died of an alcohol, cocaine, and fentanyl overdose. Plus, Xan said that he kept his relapse a secret because he wasn’t ready to share it with the public. However, he’ll still probably have a challenge staying sober as long as he uses Xan as his moniker, but the California native said he plans to change it to “Diego,” which is his actual middle name.
Artie Lange backslid and blamed it on a woman
Standup comic and former member of “The Howard Stern Show” Artie Lange has often been candid about his drug use in the past, then getting help, yet ultimately falling back into the same problem. And in 2016, while on “Opie Radio,” Lange said that he once relapsed while doing a comedy show in Boston and there was a woman involved. According to the comedian, he and the woman met up in a hotel room after the gig, and although he kept the details of the encounter to himself, Lange implied that she supplied the drugs. “The devil is a hot chick with blow, man,” he said.
Over the years, Lange has gotten into a good deal of legal trouble for drugs, and in 2018 he tweeted, “10 days ago when I left rehab I had to touch the flame. I used Cocaine … It should’ve left my system. But a higher power wouldn’t let me get away with that. I’m a bad addict. I had to see if I could get high. It was awful,” he added.
The first time many learned of Lange’s addiction was when he talked about it on “The Howard Stern Show” when he worked there. “Over the years I snorted heroin from time to time,” he explained. “I fell into an old trap that I used to fall into on the road doing stand up … It just helped [with] going to sleep in hotels and on planes.”
Kelly Osbourne just wanted to be honest
In 2018 Kelly Osbourne posted an Instagram message where she admitted to using substances to rid herself of dark feelings and because she didn’t know who she was without “a camera” in her face. But the TV personality eventually got help, and through treatment and support by her brother Jack Osbourne, as well as parents, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, she got sober. “I can’t believe It’s been a year,” she wrote in that 2018 message.
But in April of 2021, Kelly said she backslid a bit and didn’t want to hide it from her fans. “This is a little hard for me to talk about, but I’ve always promised you that I will always be honest with you about where I’m at and what’s going on in my road to recovery,” she said on Instagram Stories (via Extra). “I relapsed. Not proud of it. But I am back on track … I just want to let you know that I am sober today and I’m going to be sober tomorrow. But I’ve learned it truly is just one day at a time.” According to Extra, Kelly once said that she thought it was impossible for her to do anything without being “Drunk or high,” because she was “scared of everything.”
Ben Affleck felt extremely embarrassed
Ben Affleck became a household name after being in the film “Good Will Hunting” in 1997 but soon after, he found himself in rehab for alcohol having three separate stints, according to The New York Times. He first went to rehab in 2001, then in 2017, and once again in 2018. And after that third trip, Affleck was seen drunk while leaving the UNICEF Masquerade Ball in West Hollywood, California in October of 2019. The actor was wearing a blazer and slacks, as well as a skeleton mask, and could barely walk.
A TMZ reporter saw Affleck the next morning and asked him about being inebriated. “Oh, you know, it happens. Just a slip, but I’m not gonna let it derail me,” he told them. Then a few months after that incident, which made headlines, Affleck told The New York Times that, “Relapse is embarrassing … I wish it didn’t happen. I really wish it wasn’t on the internet for my kids to see. Jen and I did our best to address it and be honest.” In that same interview, the Massachusetts-raised celeb said that his father was also an alcoholic and didn’t get sober until the actor reached age 19, which has a lot to do with his sobriety issues. “It took me a long time to fundamentally, deeply, without a hint of doubt, admit to myself that I am an alcoholic,” Affleck explained.
AJ McLean got caught by his wife
Backstreet Boys member AJ McLean has been to rehab in 2001, 2002, and 2011 for alcoholism and depression, according to People, and in 2018 he told the celebrity mag that he “relapsed over the past year.” But the singer also said he has “no shame” about it since he knows it’s all part of his recovery. Plus, he explained that part of the reason he relapsed is because he’s a “people pleaser,” which he believes comes from being an entertainer who wants the audience to have a great time. “If you do that too often, then you forget about taking care of yourself, and you do tend to get lost in the sauce. And that’s happened to me numerous times,” explained Mclean.
Then two years after that admission, the pop star talked about relapsing again in Las Vegas while going to see Shania Twain perform. “Before I even got on the plane, I had already mapped out the whole night,” he told People. “I knew where I was going to go get my drugs. I knew where I was going to go get drunk … and I figured, ‘Okay, it’s one night. As long as … I don’t smell like it, I can go have a nice last hurrah and then come back home. My wife won’t know.'” But McLean said that his plan didn’t work, because he never slept, missed two flights, and “reeked of alcohol when [he] got home,” which his wife noticed right away.
Eminem wasn't comfortable in rehab
Artistically, as well as commercially, Eminem was on a roll with his first three albums, but that came to a halt in 2004 with the release of “Encore,” as it was critically panned. Before that album dropped, Em developed an addiction to prescription pills like Vicodin, Valium, and Ambien, which he told GQ. The rapper said the pills were to get him through concerts and be more comfortable in front of large crowds. But over time, his addiction got so bad, he was taking “sixty and ninety pills a day.” And because of that, it took him two years to make “Encore,” so eventually he went to rehab and stopped using but his stint in rehab didn’t go well.
“Everyone was staring at me,” Em explained. “I could never be comfortable. There were people there that treated me normal. Then there were a bunch of f***ing idiots who aren’t even concentrating on their own sobriety because they’re so worried about mine. They’re stealing my hats, my books — it was chaos.” Plus, the “Stan” creator said that he wasn’t truly ready to get clean at that time, so he relapsed, which landed him in the hospital after an overdose. He then released his sixth album “Relapse” in 2009, a project where he rapped about his addiction and recovery.
Jason Wahler abused pills given by his therapist
Sometimes, either with celebrities or everyday people, things look great from the outside looking in, but in actuality, their lives are filled with all kinds of chaos, and over time some become masters at making everything look perfect. “Laguna Beach,” “The Hills,” and “The Hills: New Beginnings” star Jason Wahler knows something about that, because after developing an addiction to alcohol and cocaine, he fell in love, got married, then began working at a substance abuse program. One could’ve easily thought that Wahler was successfully beating his addiction but that wasn’t the case. While speaking on “The Doctors,” the reality star said that he relapsed with Adderall, a drug that’s sometimes used to treat hyperactivity or impulse control, according to RXList.com.
“About three months into taking the prescription, I ended up taking an extra pill,” he explained. “And from that point on it was off to the races.” But Wahler recovered after that, however, he relapsed again, which he told E! in February 2020. “Today I am doing phenomenal, but in an effort of honesty and transparency, I had another slip,” he admitted. “What keeps me going is the honesty, the transparency, and being vulnerable. By expressing vulnerability, it creates humility and lets people know they are not alone when this stuff does happen.”
Demi Moore had a seizure and scared her kids
In her 2019 book “Inside Out,” Demi Moore wrote that she went to rehab in the mid-’80s for drug and alcohol abuse and was able to stay sober until her marriage to Ashton Kutcher started crumbling, which was reported by The Guardian as well. She also had a miscarriage around the time of her relapse, and that led to the actor abusing Vicodin. Then Moore hit rock bottom in 2012 when she attended a birthday party in Los Angeles that had synthetic cannabis and nitrous oxide, which she talked about with Diane Sawyer on “Good Morning America” in 2019. After partaking in those substances, Moore had a seizure, and 911 had to be called.
“It was like the sun went down and a monster came,” said Moore’s daughter Tallulah Willis about her mother’s relapse during a 2019 interview on “Red Table Talk.” Plus, in “Inside Out,” Moore said that her ex-husband Ashton Kutcher didn’t quite help her stay sober. “Ashton was enjoying a glass of good red wine when he said, ‘I don’t know if alcoholism is a real thing, I think it’s all about moderation,'” she wrote, which was shared by Page Six. “I wanted to be that girl … who could have a glass of wine at dinner … In my mind, Ashton wanted that, too. So I tried to become that: a fun, normal girl.”
Matthew Perry started relapsing in the late '90s
A 1997 jet ski accident and being prescribed Vicodin. That’s what Matthew Perry said led to his battle with addiction, something that he told People in 2002. He first went to rehab for 28 days in Minnesota’s Hazelden rehab center, saying, “I was able to stay sober for a brief period.” Then after relapsing, he had to be treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for pancreatitis, which is commonly associated with one ingesting too much alcohol, according to American Addiction Centers.
And even after that, Perry still continued to relapse — and then his alcoholism came to a head when he was pulling double-duty, working on his NBC sitcom “Friends” in Los Angeles and heading to Dallas, Texas to film the movie “Serving Sara,” also starring Elizabeth Hurley. “The hangover is brutal. I was sleepy and shaking at work,” Perry described. “You can’t tell anyone to get sober. It has to come from you.” In recent years, Perry hasn’t admitted to relapsing, but in 2019 he was seen in photos looking disheveled in Los Angeles, which led to some thinking he was using again.
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