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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

01-09-14 | By

Celebs are Bringing Recovery to the Mainstream

Whether an individual is just starting on their journey of recovery or if someone has substantial clean time, embracing recovery can bring forth both tremendous personal transformation as well as formidable challenges.  Moving away from the margins of living and struggling with substance abuse and into healthier and more truthful ways of thinking and being is ongoing, but deeply beneficial.  While there are moments of doubt and deep pain when one digs deep into the underlying mechanisms of their own personal addiction, understanding and moving past those barriers brings forth feelings of empowerment and rebirth.

Despite the deeply transformative power of recovery on the individual level, the whole concept of recovery from substance abuse has been largely muted and relegated to the background.  Society in general still views addiction as a moral failing and thus people who are in recovery may feel that lingering stigma associated with perceived moral failings.  However, there has been a sea change in regards to how recovery and addiction is viewed and a crop of current celebrities are providing the spark for change.

Who Is Leading the New “Recovery Movement”?

robert downey jr

Over the past few years there have been numerous celebrities in both film and music that have been upfront regarding their past substance abuse and subsequent recovery.  A prime example of this phenomenon is the rapper Macklemore.  The rapper, who has been sober since 2008, uses the rap medium to warn listeners about the realities of drug use and addiction and urges listeners to learn from the mistakes he has made.  With songs like “Otherside” which detail the descent into addiction, messages of the perils of addiction are reaching the widespread mainstream audience.

Another example of a celebrity who has been open about substance abuse and recovery is Robert Downey Jr.  Struggling with addiction since the 1980’s, Downey Jr. was known more for his prison stints and his numerous trips to rehab than his considerable acting talent in which he was nominated for an Oscar for the 1992 film Chaplin.   At his lowest point, he was found cowered in an alley behind a seedy Los Angeles hotel, was nearly bankrupt and virtually unemployable.  However, he entered treatment in late 2005 at the insistence of his current wife and since that point both his personal and professional life have flourished.

Russell Brand is an example of another celebrity who has been candid regarding substance abuse.  Brand has been sober for over a decade and not only has been winning the battle against drug and alcohol addiction, but he is also a recovering sex addict.  In interviews, he often talks about how temptations still affect his daily life and is the subject of the 2012 documentary Russell Brand: From Addiction to Recovery where he challenges the definitions of addiction while trying to bring attention to the plight of the addicted.

Others in the Spotlight Who Are In Recovery

Eminem on stage with an AA jewel necklace.

There are other celebrities that are showing not only the perils of addiction through their own narratives, but also how recovery has led them to more rewarding personal and professional outcomes.  Actors like Robin Williams and Samuel L. Jackson are in recovery as well as Glee star Jane Lynch and Sir Anthony Hopkins.  In the world of music, those who have battled addiction and found sobriety include iconic rock guitarists Eric Clapton and Joe Walsh, county star Keith Urban, Steven Tyler, Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue,  AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young and rapper Eminem.  These artists and entertainers, among others, are examples of how recovery has transformed their lives, professions and careers.

How Their Stories Can be Motivational and Inspiring in Your Own Recovery

Having role models for motivation and inspiration are essential in recovery.  In reading the stories and narrative of those celebrities who struggled with addiction and ultimately found recovery, one finds       that addiction affects anyone and everyone regardless of status.  These narratives also show that working a sound program in recovery based in honesty and humility not only reaps rewards with one’s own health, but it helps to mend and improve relationships, whether they are personal in nature or professionally based.

In recovery, there is always fear of the unknown.  Not knowing if you will be able to do the things that matter to someone the most or if people will be accepting can be a formidable obstacle.  In looking at celebrities who had found recovery, not only in there a realization that you can pursue those deeply held ambitions and dreams, but there is opportunity to thrive and to enjoy those pursuits to their maximum.

Ultimately, there is a realization that recovery from substance abuse happens in all walks of life.  For example, one can find people who are inspirational in recovery in their twelve-step group or may be a sponsor or a co-worker.  Seeking out people that have what you want and desire in recovery can be empowering not only for his or her own sobriety, but can help the recovering person pay it forward to another in need.


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