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How Celebrities With Addictions Have Changed the Narrative

how addiction has changed tabloids

The stories of celebrities and addiction have changed drastically in recent years. In the early 2000s, tabloids drank up celebrity addiction stories like water. These news sources were apt to report on the latest “it girl” overdose, drunken rampage, or mental health struggle. But today, the stories are changing before our very eyes. While there are many celebrities in recovery and others who have yet to make the change and find sobriety, the reports about their challenges are quite different than they were years prior. With social media at their fingertips, celebrities with addictions ranging from alcohol, drugs, sex, and so on could write their own story and show the truth behind recovering from this disease. Banyan Treatment Center Boca takes a closer look at this phenomenon.

Why Celebrities Struggle With Substance Abuse

Many people think that celebrities have it all. Money, fame, power. What do they have to worry about? Well, the higher the celebrity status, the greater the pressure. There are many celebrities with mental health issues who simply did not seek help soon enough because they were surrounded by “yes” men and women who always downplayed the issues. For instance, an actor's drug addiction may be disregarded in the endeavors of completing the film project he is employed on in a timely manner. While it is understandable that a substantial amount of money and resources are on the line, pretending a problem is not happening rarely ends well.

The entertainment industry has a clear history of this negative behavior. It can be likened to that of a codependent relationship. Assistants, producers, and executives do what they think is necessary to maintain a certain image, even if it is causing real damage in the process. If the end product makes money, all else can be treated as collateral damage. But these film sets are temporary settings, and those struggling still must go home and live with their struggles despite it all.

The list of now-passed idols is a long and heartbreaking one. The farther back in time we go, the more the restrictions of those periods are apparent. These restrictions take the form of stigma, misinformation, greed, excess, and so on. The amount of young people that have been lost to the substance abuse that ran rampant amongst entertainers is highlighted by the infamous “27 club,” a collection of musicians that lost their lives at the age of 27 to overdose. The list is comprised of Janice Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and others.1

Stigmas and other factors may have kept these musicians, actors, and other famous people from getting help. But as the social climate grows kinder to discussing mental health and addiction, celebrities can get the help they need. This, in turn, can encourage their fans to seek help when necessary, as well.

How Celebrities Are Becoming Activists

As the stigmas surrounding addiction and personal internal struggles are changing for the better, the new openness about mental health has helped many former celebrity addicts act as activists for mental illness awareness and recovery. In previous years, a sober star may have been vilified for their prior struggles with substance abuse. Celebrities with drug addictions and the like were at the mercy of tabloids that were more concerned with sensationalizing their struggles for profit than anything else.  

Before, celebrity addicts did not have the direct platform they now have. Today, celebrities are using social media to create an outlet for activism, encouraging others to get help. Tabloids could report whatever they wanted about celebrities and addiction. But today, with Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter at their fingertips, celebrities can write their own narrative to their millions of fans, singing praises about recovery rather than reinforcing stigmas of addiction.

This, of course, does not erase any damage that any actions of theirs may have caused during their addiction. Just like with a non-celebrity, being intoxicated does not excuse the mistreatment of others. We cannot force forgiveness and must be accountable for our actions. Fame is a unique concept because it provides a degree of privilege and undeniable influence while asking more of these people in ways that the average citizen would not be able to imagine. Not everyone chooses to live their life under a microscope and doing so places a level of pressure on the individual that many cannot just walk away from.

At the end of the day, we are all human, and no amount of fame or money will be enough to change the very real hold that addiction can have on a person and their loved ones.

Celebrities Who Beat Addiction

Celebrities such as Drew Barrymore, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Robert Downey Jr. are vocal about their recovery from addiction. These celebrities, and many others, are open about their past with addiction and their successes in recovery. Many of these people have been to Hell and back and still make a choice to stand against stigma, misunderstanding, and ignorance in the hopes of seeing a positive change in the world. If they can do it, so can you. Every success story is a reminder of how there is always hope, and almost everyone could turn their lives around with the right amount of conviction.

Getting sober starts with completing a drug and alcohol detox program, including a medically monitored detox program that can mitigate symptoms of drug or alcohol withdrawal. Patients would then enter some form of mental health treatment that can identify the triggers and source for the addiction in question and help teach them healthier coping mechanisms to apply in the future. At Banyan, we offer Florida mental health services that include a variety of therapeutic techniques. For those in need of more intensive care, our Boca behavioral health center offers residential programs that will place patients in an environment designed to help them succeed.


Help is out there. Call Banyan Boca at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our Florida Mental Health rehab and how you can begin your recovery journey today.


Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.