7 Celebs Whose Struggles With Addiction Tanked Their Careers but They Bounced Back
Celebrities who let 'addiction' take over them but they fought back
In the glamorous world of Hollywood, celebrity and high net worth frequently go hand in hand, but so do the struggles of addiction. In this riveting journey through the ups and downs of seven popular celebrities, we often hear the horrific stories of how addiction threatened to wreck some popular Hollywood careers and personal lives. But these stars confronted their demons head-on, emerging stronger, smarter, and more resilient than ever before. Here are seven celebrities who not only overcame adversity but also bounced back, proving that a better life is possible even under the most unforgiving limelight.
1. Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan became one of the most promising young actors of her time after her brilliant performances in The Parent Trap, Freaky Friday, and the iconic Mean Girls. But due to her parent's separation and the demands of her profession, after 2007 she started to experience many mental health challenges along with her two convictions for driving under the influence, one of which even involved cocaine, per CNN. Lohan's issues persisted both within and outside of the courtroom, and as a result, her career suffered badly. But now, the actress is better. Lohan has been leading a sober lifestyle since 2013. She has appeared on The Masked Singer Australia and other ventures. Even though she hasn't yet attained the fame she enjoyed as a child, she's climbing through, and her fans are proud!
2. Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen has been in the headlines for decades for his different addictions. Sheen, who suffered a stroke in 1998 as a result of a cocaine overdose, had many other run-ins with the law over the years. His most popular stint on Two and a Half Men was cut short due to substance abuse, and his fall from favor became a highly publicized affair after a very public falling out with Chuck Lorre. The actor is now sober, has a new series, and has even reconciled with Lorre, now joining the producer's series How to Be a Bookie. "To this day, I'm not sure how I created such chaos and wound up in that head space. It's as though there was some alien or demonic possession going on... I wish I could make a lot of it go away, but they wouldn't call it the past if it wasn't," he opened up a year after being sober, per USA Today.
3. Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato's career in show business began with Barney & Friends, which led to roles in Camp Rock and its sequel. This is Me, their debut single, peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. Lovato struggled with addiction and mental health issues when they were 18, seeking treatment for alcoholism, drug abuse, bulimia nervosa, and bipolar disorder, per Addiction Center. They were sober for six years before relapsing in 2018 with the release of Sober and a near-fatal heroin overdose shortly afterward, resulting in multiple health complications. This terrifying experience prompted introspection about life and the importance of sobriety. Lovato sought new management and documented their challenges in the docuseries Dancing With the Devil. While actively working on their recovery and career, they released their eighth album, Holy Fvck, in 2022.
4. Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. started acting when he was 5 years old. Downey found work and fame to be too much at such a young age, and at 8 started to consume drugs. In 1996, he ended up in prison after being charged with possession of cocaine, heroin, and a firearm in his van. He described his addiction to the court, "It's like I've got a shotgun in my mouth, with my finger on the trigger, and I like the taste of gun metal." With his imprisonment, Downey's career took a severe hit, but an unexpected event—a lousy burger—saved his life. Downey told the Daily News, "I have to thank Burger King; it was such a disgusting burger I ordered. I had that, and this big soda, and I thought something really bad was going to happen." After that, Downey got sober and used the 2008 film Iron Man to revive his career. Later, he even sent the business a thank-you letter.
5. Natasha Lyonne
Natasha Lyonne's problems became public after she was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2001. She was evicted from her apartment in 2005 due to her erratic behavior. Lyonne got hepatitis C and started methadone treatment, most likely for heroin. The actor's legal problems persisted, and her health deteriorated. In 2012, an infection meant she had to get open-heart surgery, but she recovered. Everything changed for Lyonne the following year when she joined the cast of Orange is the New Black as Nicky Nichols. Lyonne told the Los Angeles Times, "It really gave me a full second leg. There had been a lot of things that were slowly bringing me back from the edge. ... When Orange Is the New Black came along, I was ready to be back at work." The actress finally found her way out! She has since led the Netflix series Russian Doll and continues to work as an actor and producer.
6. Tatum O'Neal
Tatum O'Neal began acting as a kid and, at the age of 10, became the youngest person to receive an Academy Award for Paper Moon. She worked on and off for almost 40 years and had a huge drug problem throughout. O'Neal got in trouble with the law in 2008 after being arrested for buying and having cocaine. She pled guilty and went to a treatment facility, but she couldn't stay sober. Her son, Kevin McEnroe, struggled with addiction as well. O'Neal's chronic drug usage harmed her health, and she suffered a catastrophic stroke in 2020 as a result of a prescription medication overdose. She was in a coma for six weeks. O'Neal told Entertainment Weekly, "I've been trying to get sober my whole life. Every day, I am trying." O'Neal has prioritized her health and keeping her sobriety since her stroke. In 2021, she starred in Not To Forget, as a doctor in a film intended to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer's research.
7. Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson was at the pinnacle of his career for decades, appearing in a slew of action films in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. Gibson's personal life became public after he was arrested for driving under the influence in 2006. During the arrest, Gibson unleashed a furious tirade against a law enforcement officer, including antisemitic remarks. He was blacklisted yet continued to work. Following his performance in 2016's Hacksaw Ridge, the actor revealed on Australia's Sunday Night that he is now sober. "I am a member of [the] 12-step program, and I achieved sobriety like that. I've got ten years of sobriety under my belt," he revealed. He appears to have been forgiven by Hollywood since he currently plays an antagonist in Keanu Reeve's successful John Wick franchise.
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