Celebrity Rehab Success Stories Show How Substance Abuse Can Hit Anyone

Often enough it’s hard to find that push to check yourself into rehab, or to help give a loved one a nudge in the right direction to help them get their life on track. While there is the image of living life up like a rockstar and doing lines between shows, the best and most positive role models in show business have gone through rehabilitation and were clearly better after doing so. The following are a few of the major success stories out of Hollywood that we believe are not put into the spotlight often enough:

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen is among the most famous of the revolving door rehab patients. While his story isn’t the most successful, he has at least demonstrated a much needed willingness to try and improve his lifestyle habits. His most famous rehab visit is that of 1998 where he had overdosed on cocaine but managed to pull through and go to rehab and get clean for a little while at least.

After a few more bouts through rehab in the 2010s he might have finally turned over a new, and more importantly, clean leaf. He came out with the confession that he’d been diagnosed with AIDS along with the good news that he’d been off of the hard stuff for 4 months and drink free for 4 weeks at the time of his interview. While certainly a tale of shaky attempts and meandering results, Sheen has demonstrated that there is no point that is too late to turn back.

Leonard Nimoy

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Probably the single most surprising name to see on here, Leonard Nimoy is among the list of actors to have gone through rehab for alcohol abuse. While working on the cast of “Star Trek” he’d apparently gotten into the habit of excessive drinking to deal with the stress of job of being the ever-logical Spock in the series. He had apparently been successful in cutting the booze out of his life when he’d fallen in love with his second wife and made the run through rehab, and as far as we know he’d been sober from 1987 until his death in 2015 – a nearly 30 year span of sobriety. 

Robert Downey Jr.

Probably the biggest success story of all Hollywood right now is Robert Downey Jr., who went for a long period where many of his peers had thought of him as unhirable due to his drinking and drug problems. This drug problem seemed to be something shared between father and son with his father reportedly letting Robert Jr. have his first smoke of marijuana at the age of 6.

With this upbringing it was no shock to learn that Robert was a daily drinker who’d dabbled in other drugs and eventually landed himself in prison, a few times even. After a few failed rehab attempts and a year spent in the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, he would relapse yet again but not long after his wife gave him the hard ultimatum which led to Downey putting the bottle down in 2003 and keeping it out of his life ever since.

He credited his success to a 12 step program, yoga, meditation and therapy, but also to his rising successful career after Mel Gibson personally helped him rewrite his insurance liabilities that made him finally employable. Today Robert Downey Jr. is among the highest paid and most well recognized actors in Hollywood, and ironically his popularity exploded with the role of Tony Stark or better known as Iron Man, a technologically powered superhero who spends his personal time as a struggling alcoholic and playboy that regularly endangers his credibility and love life, a role that Robert might have been perhaps a little too overqualified to play. Still, his story is one that proves that people can come back from practically any situation involving substance abuse, and rehabilitation truly goes a long way in helping people get their lives under control. 

Mel Gibson

Not all recoveries are as dramatic as Robert’s of course, in fact Mel Gibson who’d personally helped get Robert back onto the movie set again had his own alcoholic bout and a rather famous exchange with a police officer. This ended up having Mel sent to rehab, where he was in fact treated for his alcoholism. While he may be a cleaner man today, he’s hardly cleaned himself of his infamy which has kept him from making a resurgence like his friend Robert Downey Jr.

Britney Spears

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While many of the downward spirals that celebrities experience when it comes to drug addiction or alcoholism can be fairly well kept under wraps, Britney Spears’s issues have been some of the most publicly visible episodes ever witnessed. From shaving half her head in what seemed like an uncontrolled action, flashing her underwear to the world, driving with her child on her lap and more. She likely would have gotten things under control much sooner had she stayed in rehab either the first time or the second time she checked in, which both happened in the same week – the week she ended up shaving her head, in fact.

Britney faced many ups and downs that were caused primarily by substance abuse and relationship issues, and having to deal with those things in such a public manner must have made them that much more difficult to handle. Still, she landed a very lucrative contract with her recurring show in Las Vegas, but even that led to some challenges for her. To keep up with her demanding schedule, she began taking an ADHD medication called Vyvanse. A short while later, she discovered that her boyfriend at the time David Lucado was cheating on her. This caused her to have yet another breakdown and she upped her dosage of Vyvanse to the point of dangerously close to overdosing. Prescription drug abuse is no laughing matter. It is as dangerous and often more easily disguised than cocaine and other street drug addictions.

Noticing there were some serious problems happening, Britney’s father forced her to enter rehab near the end of 2014. And, finally, she actually went through the program. Since then, she has been out of the news cycle for any hastily taken actions or emotional public outbursts. Her residency at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas is still going, too, showing that rehab programs can be done without causing the patient to miss out on important things in her or his life.

Chevy Chase

Chevy Chase had a rather recent trip to rehab in September 2016 where he’d turned himself in to help himself with alcoholism. Chase sets a fine example of a star being more proactive in their treatment as he’d yet to have a huge scandal caused by his alcohol habit.

Chase explained that this was a decision to help him tune himself up for his career which is likely to be hard enough at 73 years of age, and worse when dealing with bouts of alcoholism. This however was not Chase’s first visit to rehab though as he’d previously went in 1986 for an addiction to painkillers which he’d gotten hooked on after using to treat his chronic back pain, once again a time where he’d proactively sought help before a scandal arose from his issues.

John Stamos

John Stamos of Full House fame had received a DUI in 2015 which lead him into rehab soon afterwards. John has been a clean cut father figure since the 80s with his role in Full House, being someone who flies under the radar as far as abusers go.

He told his tale though of how he got into such a mess though, and it’s an unfortunately common story. John had gotten into drinking to cope with his recent parent’s death and the concurrent divorce from Rebecca Romijin. He described his path of spiraling out of control until he was caught driving under the influence, in his own words “I lost myself, I lost my sense of discipline, which my dad taught me so well, and I just became someone – more and more I was just dipping into that dark place. It happened more and more and it just got darker and darker,” a story that’s probably a little too close to home for many alcoholism sufferers.

While Stamos felt embarrassed and ashamed of this out of control spiral, he’s certainly got himself on the right track after rehab and getting onto the set of Fuller House.

Carrie Fisher

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A rather recent loss in Hollywood, Carrie Fisher also had her own tale to tell about addiction and rehab. Her tale is told in entirety in her book “Wishful Drinking”, and contains such details about her doing cocaine on the set of A New Hope and saying that she didn’t really like or care for the drug but was doing anything to chase the high. Fisher herself described her life as being defined with addiction with trips to hospitals and rehab when things got to far.

The rather infamous drug addict John Belushi had even recognized Carrie’s drug problem as too much, which must have been a real eye opener. From that insight she was able to recognize that her habits were leading her to doing a lot more than her co-stars at those back stage parties. Fisher had been thankful that her drugs of choice were not very accessible, stating that “If I’d been addicted to booze I’d be dead now, because you just go out and get it,” a rather grim insight to the accessibility of having a drink to those with addiction problems.

While she had a near death overdose that brought her in for a few attempts at rehab in 1985, it’s not quite clear how well she managed to entirely shake her old habits. If it’s any indication of a fair attempt though, her passing was a non-drug related heart attack at age 60.


Throughout his career, Marshal Mathers, known primarily as his stage name Eminem, has had an infamous relationship with all kinds of illicit and prescription drugs. The rapper has fought all kinds of addictions and has been through quite a few programs in an attempt to kick them out of his life. Some of the substances that have had a grip on Eminem over the years include valium, vicodin, cocaine and heroin.

It was during his time addicted to heroin that Eminem realized just how bad his substance problem had become. He ended up talking to his friend Elton John (another rehab success story from 1990) and Eminem then went into a rehabilitation program in 2009. While this did lead to some complications in the beginning with methadone to treat the early stages of quitting his heroin addiction, he ultimately kicked the drug out of his life for good.

He has discussed how he went from heroin to an addiction to running and how that ended up causing some strain on his body, but we are fairly certain that anyone would rather be or have a loved one addicted to exercise and fitness instead of what is one of the most addictive and dangerous illegal drugs out there.

What We Can Learn From Celebs And Addiction

There are a handful of things that looking through this list of rehabilitated celebrities should reveal.

  • The first is that people who are faced with alcoholism or a substance addiction should not feel ashamed or embarrassed. This can literally happen to anyone, even some of the most successful people in the world.
  • The second thing readers should take away from this list is that no matter how addicted someone might be to even the most difficult-to-quit drugs, there should always be at least some level of hope that the addict can get the help that she or he needs to get sober and move past this time in their lives.
  • Finally, this all goes to show that rehab programs can mean the difference between a life of crippling addiction versus being a successful and productive member of society. Whether you are trying to quit using alcohol or drugs or you have a loved one you’d like to see quit, you should know you don’t have to be a rock star to have access to great care when it comes to substance abuse. You just need to reach out to a rehab facility and start asking questions.