Most people would be surprised to learn how many female celebrities battle the disease of addiction. Here are four famous women who had a problem with drugs or alcohol. “It’s probably weird to think about an addiction like it’s a sentient being, but that’s how it feels. Like it’s something living inside you. Something you can’t get rid of because killing it means killing you.” ~ Ellen Hopkins, Identical The “stereotypical” addict is a poor, disheveled man who is jobless and probably homeless. Like most stereotypes, it is wildly inaccurate. Many people who battle substance abuse are “high-functioning” and live successful, even noteworthy lives, and the so-called gender gap for drinking and other drugs is smaller than you might think… and it’s narrowing. Female celebrities face the same addiction risks as everyone else, and perhaps even more:
- genetic predisposition
- family history of alcoholism/addiction
- personal trauma
- co-occurring mental or emotional disorders
This last causal factor – mental/emotional disorders – might be especially problematic for women who are in the public eye, because they are held to a different standard. There is tremendous anxiety and stress to perform well or to get that next part, there is constant pressure to stay unrealistically beautiful, young, and thin, and public scrutiny can lead to damaged self-esteem. Couple those issues with easy access to drugs and the funds to indulge, and it becomes understandable how so many women succumb. Here are four female celebrities who dealt with their own personal demons of drug addiction and alcoholism.
1. Jane Lynch
“… I’d close the drapes of my tiny room, take a swig of NyQuil, toast with a simple bye-bye, and go into a deep sleep… I smoked myself into oblivion that night. I still felt like crap and even lonelier than I had felt before.” ~ Jane Lynch, Happy Accidents Emmy-winner Lynch is currently at the highest point of her two decades-plus career, having won multiple awards for her performances on Glee and Hollywood Game Night. There was a time when she regularly drank to excess, so, sick of waking up hung-over, she gave up alcohol when she was 31. She did, however, continue to abuse cold medicine, and the habit worsened while she was doing a play in New York. Eventually, Lynch was able to regain her sobriety through attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and has been sober for over 15 years.
2. Mary J. Blige
“The test comes when you have to decide whether you’re drinking to be social or drinking to cover up something again. To cover up depression. To cover up guilt. Shame. Abandonment. All of that, man. Once I realized – there you go again – I had to stop.” Mary J. Blige, in an interview with Los Angeles Confidential magazine For over 25 years, Blige has been one of the most respected and successful musical artists in history. She has sold more than 50 million albums and the dates, been nominated for a record 30 Grammys, winning 9. Justifiably, she is known as the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul”. Recently, Blige revealed that for years, she waged a private battle with depression, drug addiction, and alcoholism. She believes that her issues stem from a single incident of molestation during her childhood. She even admits to being high on cocaine the night she was given her first Grammy award. Today, she admits that the drug-related death of her friend, Whitney Houston, was a motivating factor for her to stop using and drinking.
3. Melanie Griffith
“I am an alcoholic and an addict, and all my life I have fought against this, and I’ve done it well. Now I feel free. I don’t drink, I don’t take pills, nothing, and it’s fantastic, like getting out of prison.” ~ Melanie Griffith, talking to Spanish-language magazine Hola! Griffith can be considered Hollywood royalty. Her mother is actress Tippi Hedren, as is her daughter Dakota, and she’s been married four times two three prominent actors. In a career that has lasted almost 50 years, she has won a Golden Globe and been nominated for an Academy Award. She has battled alcoholism and drug addiction almost as long, turning to substance abuse to ease the pain of personal heartbreak and professional struggles. In 1988, 2000, and 2009, Griffith entered rehab for alcohol, cocaine, and painkiller addictions. According to Griffith, she began self-medicating with wine when she was just 10 years old. Now, she gives back by campaigning on behalf of other addicts. In 2014, she was the keynote speaker at the National RX Drug Abuse Summit in Atlanta.
4. Drew Barrymore
“I had my first drink at age 9, began smoking marijuana at 10, and at 12, took up cocaine.” ~ Drew Barrymore, Little Girl Lost Barrymore’s family has acting roots that go back to the 1870’s, and today, she is a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award-winning actress, director, producer, model, and author. She has been one of People magazine’s “Most Beautiful” people, and she’s even been an Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations. Life wasn’t always such smooth sailing. Her father, her grandfather, and her aunt all struggled mightily with alcoholism and drug addiction, and this was the legacy that they passed on to her. She was in rehab by the time she was 14, and spent 18 months in a mental institution. She has been sober since her teens. Apart from rehab, Barrymore has said that the biggest factor to her continued sobriety is surrounding herself with sober people who live similar lifestyles.
What the Struggles of Celebrities Can Teach Us
With just these few examples, we can see that female celebrities struggle with the same issues as the rest of us – loneliness and anxiety, childhood trauma, relationship troubles, and a genetic family history of addiction. What it can also show us, however, is that it is possible to recover and live a healthy, happy, and productive life. Drug and alcohol rehab, therapy, a surrender to spirituality, adopting constructive habits, and a strong support system, even the most suffering addict or alcoholic can get their lives back.