The Sober Living AZ Blog

Addiction in Hollywood

Posted on 11/07/19: Addiction Recovery

Hollywood is a massive industry and it’s something we all dream about at some point in our lives. Who wouldn’t want to be a famous TV, movie, or music star? Everyone has the fantasy of being gawked at by millions of fans from all over the world. For some of us, that dream doesn’t come true because for one reason or another we just don’t have what it takes or just simply can’t get recognized, but that’s okay. For those who have gained recognition, there lives on and off the stage are put into the spotlight. Though this lavish lifestyle sounds enticing, it can be quite taxing on an individual. One of the biggest struggles that famous celebrities in Hollywood face is an addiction. That’s right, some of the celebrities you put on a pedestal above you are not too different from me or you. At the end of the day, they’re all humans just like us and they struggle with the same things. Addiction in Hollywood may not come as a surprise to some of you readers, but today we’re going to discuss just how massive this problem is.

Addiction In Early Hollywood

How does addiction start in an industry that is full of glitz and gold? There are many reasons why someone in Hollywood may start abusing a substance and develop an addiction. One of the biggest reasons why people develop addictions is because of the pressure to perform. Acting, singing, or performing may not sound like an incredibly difficult task, but trust us when we say it is. Actors can be on set acting out scenes for 12-14 hrs a day sometimes, but no normal person can operate at 100% efficiency for that duration of time. So what does a person do if they need to perform for long periods of time like that? Many individuals resort to taking medications that can keep them up for long periods of time or have a few drinks to make them comfortable performing. This is now by any means a new development in Hollywood. Actresses like Debbie Reynolds (Singing in the Rain) and Elizabeth Taylor (Cleopatra) have said that they were given medications to help keep themselves awake for an entire day and then medications to help them sleep. These “upper” pills were given during normal work hours, while the “downer” pills would help them sleep well for the short amount of time they had. 

This trend of pill-popping continued through the 50s and 60s until heroin and cocaine started to gain popularity among entertainers during the 70s and 80s. Many celebrities nowadays have even said they don’t know many people in the industry who don’t regularly use substances. One Malibu-based recovery center owner, Dr. David Stack, has gone on to say, “The drug problem is growing, but what is certainly true is that the media no longer shields celebrities by not publicizing their problems with drugs and alcohol.” There’s no doubt you’ve seen these media publications in tabloids and magazines. Headlines like “Brad Pitt Caught Drunk At A Los Angeles Restaurant” or “Ben Affleck Relapses” are all over magazines. Though these tabloids are obnoxious and invasive of people’s privacy, they show us just how serious addiction in Hollywood is. This problem usually comes about through pressure to fit in, the pressure to perform, and easy accessibility.

Reasons Why Addiction Happens in Hollywood

The pressure to fit in can be overwhelming in the entertainment industry. Since many celebrities more than likely regularly use at least one substance (alcohol or drugs), other celebrities who don’t use drugs may be looked at as the black sheep on the industry. If a young celebrity wants to fit in, they may feel pressured to use a substance, as their peers do. The pressure to perform is also overwhelmingly intense at times. As we mentioned previously, some actors are required to work for excruciatingly long hours. If they need to perform well, they may resort to alternative methods of getting their performance energy back. Pills, cocaine, alcohol, whatever can help them work at 100% efficiency. Lastly, the accessibility of substances for celebrities in Hollywood is overwhelmingly easy. Because of their social status, they have an easier time acquiring substances like alcohol and drugs. Money is also something they have plenty of and the costs of these substances seem minimal. To someone in the middle class, they’ll usually want to limit their spending on substances. For someone with a high social status like a Hollywood celebrity, the cost of substances will be of little concern.

Lives Affected by Addiction in Hollywood

Though there are celebrities out there challenging the social norm of substance abuse in Hollywood, there are some who consistently struggle or have even lost their lives to addiction. 

  • Brad Pitt
    • One of Hollywood’s elite, A-list actors, Brad Pitt is a well-known figure in the entertainment industry. Though he has had massive success in his acting career, he has not been without his own personal struggles. In 2016, Pitt realized he had a strong dependency on alcohol and sought help for his addiction. Through AA, he has been able to maintain his sobriety and find a safe space to voice his struggles with other former addicts.
  • Demi Lovato
    • Singer/Songwriter/Actress Demi Lovato is one of the most famous singers of this generation. However, since her early career as an actress, she has struggled with dependency on hard drugs. Even by age 18, she had already been checked into rehabs multiple times. In 2018, Lovato suffered a drug overdose and was hospitalized for some time. Prior to this overdose, Lovato had been sober for some time. This just goes to show even in recovery you can still be tempted to use again.
  • Amy Winehouse 
    • Incredibly talented English singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse was an extremely popular star in the early 2000s. She wrote such hits as “Rehab” and “Back to Black”. However, despite her massive success, her life was cut short in 2011 when she died from alcohol poisoning at the early age of 27. Her death shows just how dangerous a habit like drinking alcohol can be. 
  • Heath Ledger
    • There’s no doubt you have heard of Heath Ledger as one of the greatest actors of this generation due to his role in “The Dark Knight” as the clown prince of crime, Joker. This role gave him a lot of notoriety in the entertainment business and even won him an oscar. Unfortunately, even some of the seemingly happiest people in the industry have their own personal struggles. Ledger struggled with depression and passed away due to an accidental overdose on prescription medications. His untimely death shook Hollywood to the core and shed a huge light on addiction in the industry.

Addiction is a growing issue in Hollywood, but celebrities are creating dialogue around the issue so people can see how serious substance abuse really is. Celebrities like Ben Affleck, Lady Gaga, Robert Downey Jr., Bradley Cooper, Drew Barrymore, Rob Lowe, Russel Brand, and Oprah Winfrey are just some of the notable celebrities who are challenging the stigma of addiction in the entertainment industry. Through their efforts, the entertainment industry can start to fight back against addiction in Hollywood. 


If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, contact Sober Living of AZ now to get the help you need. Sober Living offers an acclaimed recovery environment that merges upscale and luxury accommodations with affordability, clinical expertise and an unwavering commitment to patient care and aftercare. Call us now at 602-737-2458.

Content for Scottsdale Recovery Center and Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers created by Cohn Media, LLC. Passionate and creative writing and broadcasting, covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best. www.cohn.media

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