The most recent tragic drug-related celebrity death on everybody’s lips is that of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Unfortunately, Mr. Hoffman’s death is only the most recent to be added to a way-too-long list of stars we lost because of drugs. It’s really a shame that addiction is still so misunderstood when there is so much evidence as to just how powerful and deadly the disease is. Here, we will remember 20 stars we lost too soon due to addiction.
#1. Cory Monteith, 31, the Canadian actor and musician was best known for his role as Finn Hudson on the Fox television series Glee. Monteith was found in his hotel room last July, having succumbed to an alcohol and heroin overdose.
#2. River Phoenix, 23, at his young age, was already a critically acclaimed actor whose talent was boundless. Phoenix collapsed and died of a drug overdose outside an LA nightclub in 1993.
#3. Heath Ledger, 28, another young and extremely talented actor, Ledger was also found, alone in his NYC apartment, a victim of his addiction to prescription drugs. Ledger left behind a young daughter.
#4. Chris Farley, 33, comedian and actor. Probably best known for his various roles as a cast member on Saturday Night Live as well as his silly comedies made with best bud, David Spade. Farley died of a speedball overdose in 1997.
#5. John Belushi, 33, comedian, actor, and musician, Belushi is best known as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live. He was known for his brash, energetic comedy style and raunchy humor. Belushi died in 1982 of a speedball overdose, a mixture cocaine and heroin.
#6. Judy Garland, 47, died of a barbiturate overdose back in 1969. Garland was a talented singer and actress, perhaps best known for her role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
#7. Billie Holiday, 44, was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Holiday struggled with heroin addiction as well as alcoholism. She died in 1959 from alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver and heart failure.
#8. Jimi Hendrix, 27, was an American musician and singer-songwriter. His mainstream career was quite brief – only 4 years long – but, in that short time established himself as one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music, and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as “arguably the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music.” He died in 1977 from respiratory arrest and asphyxia due to alcohol and barbiturate overdose.
#9. Janis Joplin, 27, singer and musician, she was known as “The Queen of Psychedelic Soul.” Rolling Stone magazine ranked her #46 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time in 2004 and #28 on its 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. Joplin was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. She died in 1970 from a heroin overdose.
#10. Jim Morrison, 27, Musician, singer, songwriter The Doors, Morrison died in 1971 from heart failure from a possible heroin or cocaine overdose. Morrison was also known to struggle with severe alcoholism.
#11. Amy Winehouse, 27, was a very talented British singer whose death in 2011 was ruled as accidental alcohol poisoning. Winehouse had recently completed a rehab program. She had also struggled with various co-occurring problems, such as self-harm, depression, and bulimia.
#12. Corey Haim, 38, was an actor and, at one time, teen heartthrob. Haim had used aliases to procure 553 prescription pills in the 32 days prior to his death in 2010, having “doctor-shopped” seven different physicians and used seven pharmacies to obtain the supply, which included 195 Valium, 149 Vicodin, 194 Soma and 15 Xanax.
#13. Michael Jackson, 50, the “King of Pop” died in 2009 from cardiac arrest, due to acute propofol intoxication. The autopsy report also noted the presence of various other drugs, including midazolam, lidocaine, diazepam, and lorazepam.
#14. Elvis Presley, 42, musician, singer, actor, cultural icon, died in 1977 from a heart arrhythmia, possibly aggravated by multiple prescriptions: methaqualone, codeine, barbiturates, as well as cocaine.
#15. Anna Nicole Smith, 40, was a model, actress, and television personality who first gained popularity in 1993 as Playboy’s Playmate of the Year. She died in 2007 from a drug overdose of the sedative chloral hydrate combined with other prescription drugs Klonopin, Ativan, Serax, and Valium. Tragically, Smith’s 20-year-old son, Daniel, also died from drugs 5 months before his mother.
#16. Mitch Hedberg, 37, my favorite comedian, Hedberg died in 2007 at the height of his career from “multiple drug toxicity” in the form of cocaine and heroin. Sadly, he was found alone, in a hotel room.
#17. Gia Marie Carangi, 26, was an American fashion model during the late 1970s and early 1980s and is considered to be the first supermodel. She struggled with polysubstance abuse, using alcohol, cocaine, and heroin, was an IV drug user and died of AIDS in 1986. Carangi is thought to be one of the first famous women to die of AIDS. Angelina Jolie portrayed this tragic figure in a biopic entitled Gia, made by HBO in 1998.
#18. Derek Boogaard, 28, a Canadian professional ice hockey player for the New York Rangers, died in 2011 from an accidental alcohol and oxycodone overdose.
#19. Len Bias, 23, Boston Celtics second and overall NBA draft pick of 1986, passed away from cardiac arrhythmia induced by a cocaine overdose in 1986.
#20. Whitney Houston, 48, singer and actress drowned in 2012 in her hotel room bathtub from complications of cocaine and heart disease. At autopsy, the presence of Flexeril, marijuana, Xanax and Benadryl were found.
All of these people had more than fame and drug addiction in common. They were all super talented people who died before their time.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Whitney Houston, Cory Monteith, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, River Pheonix, Chris Farley, Janis Joplin, Judy Garland, Billie Holiday; that doesn’t even make a dent in the list of celebrities we tragically lost all too soon to drug and alcohol addiction. And then there are those celebrities who are still here with us and who have struggled or are currently struggling with addiction: Robert Downey Jr, Lindsay Lohan, Matthew Perry, Kristen Stewart, Drew Barrymore; again, the list could go on and on.
So, are celebrities more prone to addiction than non-celebrities?
It might seem as though celebrities are more prone to addiction by the sheer number of famous people whose struggles with drugs and alcohol have come to light in the very public domain of stardom. But is there something about being a celebrity that makes someone more likely to turn into an addict? I think there are several things to consider when answering the question of whether celebrities are more prone to addiction.
People, Places, Things
As many of us in recovery know, we must be wary of people, places, and things. I think Hollywood and the other haunts of the rich and famous are perfect cesspools for drug use. By being around people who use, in the places they use, and around things associated with using, the non-addicted celebrity is exposed, perhaps for the first time in their life, to the glamorous-yet-seedy lifestyle of fame, fortune, and drugs. This might sound strange but, it’s kind of like prison: when a non-violent offender, say someone charged with possession of a controlled substance – which carries a hefty penalty – is thrown in the jail or prison system with violent and hardened criminals, many times, the newbie becomes indoctrinated with a new sense (or lack thereof) of morality – the prison code. So, this relatively harmless offender comes out of the system as a much more dangerous threat to society, having learned the “tools of the trade” to lead a criminal lifestyle. This is all too often the case. Again, perhaps a strange analogy but, quite fitting in my opinion. In the case of celebrities, you have this wide-eyed kid who’s new on the scene and hoping for their big break at stardom. They are all-too willing to please and partake in activities if it’s with the “right” people – the big-shots or those who are closely connected to the big shots.
With big paychecks comes the ability to support big habits. That’s just common sense. But feeding a drug habit is a very expensive undertaking and even some of the highest paid celebrities can become bankrupt in the face of a nasty drug habit. When in my active addiction, there were so many times I’d think to myself or tell my “using buddies” that I wished I was famous but not for the fame; for the money. My biggest dream at that time was somehow having tons of money, so much that I wouldn’t know what to do with it. Well, I knew and it wasn’t anything good – I would indulge my addicted ways with a steady supply of drugs until my own untimely death from an overdose. That’s actually how I planned it. Sick, yes. But not all that uncommon among junkies.
Fame and Fortune Cause Addiction: The Bottom Line
Could these things actually be the cause of addiction? In reality, I don’t think so. They definitely help to feed an addiction in someone who may already be predisposed to substance abuse but, I don’t think being a celebrity, alone, can cause addiction. Science has found actual genetic evidence of brain differences in people with addiction – and not just while they are actively using. There is some pretty compelling evidence from studies of identical twins that shows that addiction may very well be hereditary. Further bolstering these finds are the results of many studies, which show that the majority of people who have tried hard drugs did not then become addicted to using them. Also, consider all of the folks who are able to drink responsibly and then there are true alcoholics, who can’t simply stop after one or two drinks. This alone goes to show that addiction doesn’t have really all that much to do with the substance, itself, rather the individual.
If you or your loved one is in need of alcohol or drug addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
We don’t always hear about celebrities’ struggles but they do and it is the exact same things that we all struggle with. Self-harm is an issue that doesn’t usually get a lot of press in comparison to driving drunk or sex tapes but there are many celebrities who self-harm. Cutting and self-harm usually covers up an underlying emotional or psychological problem. Many people who self-harm suffer from anxiety, depression, or a previous trauma. Often, the self-harm is used to cope with negative feelings and emotions.
Here are some of the celebrities who self-harm:
Fiona Apple was a famous singer and songwriter and is probably one of the most famous celebrity self-harmers. When Fiona read her first bad review she began scratching her wrist with her fingernails. She scratched all the way up her arm and there are still some dark patches on her wrists, where she dug the deepest. Fiona says, “I have a little bit of a problem with that. It’s a common thing.” Fiona Apple was a famous singer in the 90s and has dropped out of the spotlight since that time.
Drew Barrymore is one of the most iconic actresses of our generation and she got her start into acting and self-harm after her role in E.T. She first got drunk at age nine, smoked marijuana at age ten, and snorted cocaine at age twelve. She tried to commit suicide at age thirteen by slashing her wrists with a butcher knife. After that all-time low she entered rehab, not for the first time, but that stay was successful.
Johnny Depp has a series of scars on one arm where he has cut himself with a knife on different occasions. He says, “It was really just whatever [times when he hurt himself]–good times, bad times, it didn’t matter. There was no ceremony. It wasn’t like ‘Okay, this just happened, I have to go hack a piece of my flesh off.'” Johnny explains his self-harm, “My body is a journal in a way. It’s like what sailors used to do, where every tattoo meant something, a specific time in your life when you make a mark on yourself, whether you do it yourself with a knife or with a professional tattoo artist.”
Angelina Jolie self-harmed when she was younger. She explains, “You’re young, you’re crazy, you’re in bed and you’ve got knives. So shit happens.” She no longer self-harms.
Princess Diana of Wales
Princess Diana died in August of 1997 but had quite the life before that and it involved self-harm. In a 1995 BBC television interview Diana revealed to the world that she was a self-harmer. She said that she had cut her arms and legs, explaining, “You have so much pain inside yourself that you try and hurt yourself on the outside because you want help.” “Diana: Her True Story,” a biography written on the princess said that Diana had thrown herself into a glass cabinet at Kensington palace at various times, slashed her wrists with a razor, and cut herself with the serrated edge of a lemon slicer.
Some other celebrities who self-harm include:
Megan Fox, Marilyn Manson, Demi Lovato, Lindsay Lohan, Amy Winehouse, Russell Brand and quite recently there has been pictures of Miley Cyrus with cuts. The list of celebrities who self-harm or self-harmed in their youth and past could go on and on.
Miley Cyrus and Self-Harm
Speculation that Miley Cyrus is a self-harmer has followed the starlet for quite some time, as she’s been spotted out on numerous occasions in the past sporting what look to be a series of scars above her left wrist and up the arm.
Self-harm is something that affects people everywhere and there is help available for it.
If you or someone you love is cutting or engaging in self-harm, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
In an interview with The Guardian, Amy Winehouse’s brother, Alex Winehouse, says that it was an eating disorder that killed her, rather than the drugs and alcohol.
When the pop singer died on July 23, 2011, the coroner discovered that she had more than five times the legal drunk-drive limit of alcohol in her system.
However, her older brother, in his first ever full length interview, has now told The Observer that he blames his sister’s long battle with bulimia, which she developed aged 17, for leaving her “weaker and more susceptible”.
“She suffered from bulimia very badly. That’s not, like, a revelation – you knew just by looking at her… She would have died eventually, the way she was going, but what really killed her was the bulimia… Absolutely terrible.” Alex says.
Her friends, Alex claims, “were all doing it. They’d put loads of rich sauces on their food, scarf it down and throw it up. They stopped doing it, but Amy never really did… We all knew she was doing it, but it’s almost impossible [to tackle] especially if you’re not talking about it. It’s a real dark, dark issue.”
The link between eating disorders and substance abuse has been very well established by experts. Some estimate that up to one half of people with eating disorders also abuse substances, compared to nine percent of the general population. Conversely, up to 35 percent of alcohol or illicit drug abusers have eating disorders compared to three percent of the general population.
The Amy Winehouse Foundation has recently donated money to an eating disorder charity called “Beat” to help fund an internet forum.
The interview with Alex Winehouse was given to mark the opening of a major new exhibition at the Jewish Museum entitled Amy Winehouse: a Family Portrait.
In pop culture, the name Amy Winehouse has become synonymous with both talent and tragedy. The singer won 2008 Grammy Awards in the categories of Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single “Rehab”, while her album Back to Black was nominated for Album of the Year and won the Best Pop Vocal Album award. The singer also earned a Grammy in the Best New Artist category. This earned Winehouse an entry in the 2009 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records for Most Grammy Awards won by a British Female Act.
Unfortunately, there was a darker side to the Amy Winehouse story. A trail of disturbing media stories and paparazzo images tracked her painful disintegration. Photos appeared of her on London streets, tear-stained and with bleeding feet, or with badly bruised legs. Her drink and drug abuse was well-documented. Scars on her arms were often visible, from a period of self-harm and cutting in her teens. She was in and out of rehab. Then in 2011, just three years shy of her 30th birthday, she died after an alcohol binge.
If you or someone you love is in need of alcohol or drug addiction treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.