If you are looking for women in recovery role-models to inspire you on your sobriety journey, you are in the right place.
Many celebrities have had very public battles with substance abuse and alcohol or drug addiction. While tragic and fatal stories often take centre stage – think Whitney Houston or Amy Winehouse – there are many lesser-known stories of hope and recovery amongst the rich and the famous.
This Women’s Day, we highlight five courageous women celebrities who have discussed their recovery journeys with the world.
Top 5 Inspirational Women in Recovery From Alcohol or Drug Addiction
1. Eva Mendes – 14 Years Sober
American actress Eva Mendes checked herself into Cirque Lodge, a luxury rehabilitation centre in Utah, in 2008. She has reportedly been sober ever since. She has not spoken much about the details of her active addiction but has voiced her views on addiction, recovery and going to addiction treatment.
In an interview with David Colman in 2008, Mendes spoke about the fatal nature of the disease of addiction: “People have died, and I’ve lost friends too – even recently”.
The star commended people who choose to get help and commented on the stigma around going to addiction treatment.
“The other day I was reading an article. I don’t even remember who the actress was, but she’s been around for a long time. She said something like, ‘I’m proud that I’ve had a whole career without making it to rehab.’ I thought, That’s such a negative twist on it. I’m proud of people who have the determination and the fearlessness to actually go and face their demons and get better. This is a life-or-death situation. Again, I’m not a spokesperson for this, but it’s just that I want to support people for their decisions when they do go in and get help,” she said.
Her story underscores the power of a good rehab programme and is a strong signal that addiction treatment works.
2. Florence Welch – 8 Years Clean and Sober
English songwriter and lead singer for the band Florence and the Machine has spoken publicly about her journey in recovery from her substance addiction.
“I think sobriety is the best thing I ever did,” said Welch last month during an interview on Munroe Bergdorf’s podcast The Way We Are on Spotify.
“It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I had a problem with drinking because I was one of those drinkers where it was all or nothing. If I enjoy my drinking, I can’t control it and if I control my drinking, I don’t enjoy it,” she said.
During a 2018 interview with Rolling Stone, the singer explained that it wasn’t an easy choice to get sober but substance abuse was becoming a threat to her life.
“Being an extreme drinker was a huge part of my identity. Music and alcohol are sort of my first two loves. When I stopped, there was this sense that I was letting some ghost of rock history down that I just couldn’t cope anymore. It was monumental. It wasn’t like, ‘I want to be healthy and I need a change of pace.’ It was like, ‘I’m going to die. I need to stop.’,” she said.
Celebrating seven years clean in an Instagram post last year, Welch wrote that she sends her “love and support to anyone who is struggling” with addiction. She added: “But please don’t give up. We are going to need you on the other side.”
3. Hayden Panettiere – Recently Clean and Sober
American actress Hayden Panettiere spoke publicly about her drug addiction to opioids and alcohol in an interview with the celebrity magazine People last month. Within the last year she successfully completed an inpatient addiction treatment programme which has helped her begin her recovery journey.
Now 32, the actress said she first started abusing pain pills at the age of 15 and decided to go to rehab after she was hospitalised for liver problems related to her substance abuse.
“As I got older, the drugs and alcohol became something I almost couldn’t live without,” she said. “[Staying clean and sober is] an everyday choice, and I’m checking in with myself all the time. But I’m just so grateful to be part of this world again, and I will never take it for granted again.”
Speaking on the American television show Good Morning America last month, she said: “I’m good [but] it’s an everyday battle, it really is. I’m grateful to say I’m sober today.”
4. Jamie Lee Curtis – 23 years Clean and Sober
American actress, producer, author and activist, Jamie Lee Curtis has been clean and sober for over two decades. Before she got clean, Curtis had been suffering with a secret drug addiction to prescription opioid painkillers for roughly 10 years. Twenty-three years ago, she came across an article in a magazine about a man’s addiction to opioid painkillers. She recognised herself in his story, realised she had a problem and decided to get help.
She attended her first 12-step recovery meeting and has been drug- and alcohol-free ever since. Curtis talks openly about her continued and regular attendance of these recovery meetings and credits them for helping her stay clean all these years.
She first started taking the painkiller Vicodin after she was prescribed the drug post-surgery.
In a 2019 interview with Variety Magazine, Curtis described the way the drugs made her feel – a feeling that ultimately lead to the development of her drug addiction.
“I like to refer to it as the warm-bath feeling of an opiate. It’s like the way you naturally feel when your body is cool, and you step into a warm bath, and you sink into it. That’s the feeling for me, what an opiate gave me, and I chased that feeling for a long time,” she said.
In an interview with celebrity magazine Hello! last year, Curtis said: “My recovery is the single greatest accomplishment that I will ever get to do in this human life.”
Eliza Dushku – 13 Years Clean and Sober
American actress Eliza Dushku revealed she was in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction during the Youth Summit on Opioid Awareness in New Hampshire in 2017.
She began using substances at the age of 14 and said that asking for help saved her life. “Something a lot of people don’t know about me is that I’m an alcoholic and I was a drug addict for a lot of years. I’m always going to be that, but the difference between me and an alcoholic or a drug addict that still drinks and does drugs is that I’m sober. I don’t drink and I don’t do drugs anymore,” she said at the Youth Summit.
She explained that her drug addiction developed because substances “made me not feel and I didn’t have to feel”. According to her Instagram, Dushku follows the 12-step recovery programme and encourages her followers to join groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. In a 2018 post she wrote: “If you’re struggling w #alcohol &/or #drug #addiction, I promise, you don’t have to live that way anymore. Reach out, your life is waiting for you.”
While the media tends to focus on the tragic side of alcohol and drug addiction when it comes to celebrities, if you look for them, there are also many ‘good news’ stories about recovery. The overwhelming message delivered by the women above is: You don’t need to continue to suffer alone, there is help available so don’t be afraid to reach out.