Celebrities who have discussed sobriety in 2020
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On the surface, celebrities seem to have it all: fortune, fame and success.
But behind closed doors, a number of Hollywood’s leading stars struggle with alcohol, drugs and other substances. In a year of uncertainty and drastic change with a global pandemic, a wave of confessional gratitude has swept through Hollywood with more A-listers opening up about facing their demons and their sobriety journeys.
“There does seem to be a bit of a cultural shift in our attitudes towards alcohol with an awareness that less alcohol is good for your health and that periods of sobriety may be something to aspire to,” addiction expert Dr. James C. Garbutt told Fox News.
“Of course, if someone has a true alcohol use disorder then sobriety is a very positive thing and something to be celebrated," he said.
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From decades-long milestone accomplishments (Elton John) to one-year anniversaries (Heather Locklear) and even brave admissions of a relapse (Dax Shepard), celebrities have embraced 2020 to speak candidly about getting clean.
In some cases, stars speak out to help provide support to other addicts and show a pathway to sobriety. While others share their stories for a sense of freedom and to be open with their fans.
“For good or for bad, we are very interested in the lives of celebrities and value their opinions about the world often more than we do those with expert knowledge,” said Garbutt, an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina's School of Medicine.
“Therefore, I think when well-known celebrities acknowledge that they have had problems with substance use but have changed their lives and have become sober, it gives folks a sense of hope and confidence that they can also do it. It is a signal that: ‘I'm not some bad person, even successful people have my problems.’”
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Miley Cyrus recently admitted she ‘fell off’ her path to sobriety amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Miley Cyrus was forced into sobriety after undergoing major vocal cord surgery in November 2019, and the singer confirmed she was six months sober in June this year, saying part of her decision to change her lifestyle was because of her family history of mental illness.
"I did a lot of family history, which has a lot of addiction and mental health challenges,” she told Variety at the time. “So just going through that and asking, ‘Why am I the way that I am?’ By understanding the past, we understand the present and the future much more clearly.”
Her mom, Tish Cyrus, 53, also paid tribute to her daughter and insisted the public’s perception of the “Can’t Be Tamed” hitmaker is misplaced.
"Everybody thinks Miley is like this wild thing," Tish said on an episode of “Chicks in the Office” in July. “She's the cleanest person I know. She's like, she's just so solid."
However, her sobriety recently took a stumble amid the pressures of the pandemic.
The former Disney Channel star admitted having a setback amid the pressures of the pandemic.
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Revealing she was two weeks sober, Miley told Zane Lowe in an Apple Music’s New Music Daily interview: “I fell off and I realized that I now am back on sobriety, two weeks sober, and I feel like I really accepted that time.
“One of the things I’ve used is, ‘Don’t get furious, get curious.’ So don’t be mad at yourself, but ask yourself, ‘What happened?’ To me, it was a f–k up because I’m not a moderation person, and I don’t think that everyone has to be f–king sober.”
Garbutt told Fox News how the "new normal" of isolation can be a trigger to some people in their sobriety mission.
“The [COVID-19 pandemic] is putting stress on nearly everyone and leading to increased isolation,” he said.
“We know that both stress and isolation lead to anxiety and depression and are triggers to use alcohol and drugs. It is clear that anxiety and depression are higher, so it is to be expected that alcohol use has gone up as well.”
Elton John celebrated the 30-year anniversary of being sober in July.
(Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)
Elton John’s addiction to drugs and alcohol was heavily portrayed in the 2019 biopic “Rocketman” – and the singer admitted this year he’d be dead if he didn’t get help.
Celebrating a monumental 30 years sober in July, the “I’m Still Standing” singer, 73, posted to Instagram: “Reflecting on the most magical day having celebrated my 30th Sobriety Birthday.”
The star continued: “I’m truly a blessed man. If I hadn’t finally taken the big step of asking for help 30 years ago, I’d be dead. Thank-you from the bottom of my heart to all the people who have inspired and supported me along the way.”
Jessica Simpson revealed in her first memoir, released earlier this year, that she battled an addiction with alcohol and pills to cope with the sexual abuse she endured as a child.
The singer and fashion designer, who shares three children with her husband, Eric Johnson, bravely opened up about how much her problems affected her day-to-day life, and her family, after hitting rock-bottom on Halloween in 2017.
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Jessica Simpson got candid about her sobriety journey in her memoir released earlier this year titled ‘Open Book.’
(Raymond Hall/GC Images)
“It was 7:30 in the morning and I’d already had a drink,” she wrote, recalling how later that day she and Johnson were prepping for a Halloween party and he asked her if she could help get the kids ready.
“I was terrified of letting them see me in that shape,” she confessed. “I am ashamed to say that I don’t know who got them into their costumes that night.”
The “Dukes of Hazzard” star told People in January: “When I finally said I needed help, it was like I was that little girl that found her calling again in life.” She added: “Honesty is hard, but it’s the most rewarding thing we have. And getting to the other side of fear is beautiful.”
Her action in recovery is endorsed by Garbutt.
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“The first step is to recognize when alcohol use is getting out of control, for example, drinking to excess regularly and having negative consequences from drinking,” he told Fox News. “Overcoming shame and guilt are the next big hurdles.”
As well as her dramatic 100-pound weight loss after giving birth last year, Simpson has been glowing in recent social media posts, with fans noting she looks more radiant than ever.
While Simpson has been sober for three years, staying sober for 30 days can also reward your well-being, according to Hilary Sheinbaum, author of "The Dry Challenge: How To Lose The Booze For Dry January, Sober October, And Any Other Alcohol-Free Month."
“There are so many benefits to a dry month, including: saving money on drinks, late night munchies, hangover remedies and more, having more energy, losing weight by not taking in empty calories in alcoholic beverages and from said munchies, [as well as] better sleep and better skin,” said Sheinbaum, whose book is not specifically geared toward people in recovery.
Dry months can be typically a tool for cutting out alcohol temporarily, and can certainly lead to eliminating alcohol in the long-term, the trend journalist said.
Brad Pitt credited actor Bradley Cooper for helping him get sober.
Brad Pitt paid tribute to fellow-actor Bradley Cooper earlier this year for helping him get sober.
In a heartwarming moment at the National Board of Review Annual Awards Gala in January, where Cooper presented the "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" actor with the best supporting actor award, Pitt told the crowd: "Bradley just put his daughter to bed and rushed over here to do this. He's a sweetheart. I got sober because of this guy and every day has been happier ever since."
Cooper revealed he quit drugs and alcohol at the age of 29 — five years before starring in his breakout movie “The Hangover” – in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in 2012.
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Pitt, 56, first spoke publicly about his alcohol problems in May 2017.
“I was boozing too much. It's just become a problem. And I'm really happy it's been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I've got my feelings in my fingertips again. I think that's part of the human challenge, you either deny them all of your life or you answer them and evolve,” the Oscar-winner told GQ.
Pitt confessed he had to change his lifestyle because he didn’t “want to live that way anymore.” He reasoned: “Truthfully I could drink a Russian under the table with his own vodka. I was a professional. I was good.”
Joe Rogan got candid last month about participating in "Sober October," a short-term one-month abstinence from alcohol.
(Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images)
Comedian and podcaster Joe Rogan announced last month he committed to "Sober October" – a short-term one-month abstinence from alcohol, akin to the other popular trend "Dry January."
The former “Fear Factor” host posted on social media screenshots of text messages with friends who had partaken in the short-term sobriety with him for the previous two years – but they refused to join him because the pressures of life in the pandemic made it too tempting to drink.
“It's helpful – and certainly more encouraging – to have a sober month support squad that is participating in a dry month with you, so you have someone to cheer you on and vice versa,” according to lifestyle expert Sheinbaum.
“COVID-19 and 2020 as a whole have presented a unique set of obstacles and a great deal of stress. Many people drink alcohol as a way to blow off steam,” the author – whose book is available to pre-order ahead of its Dec. 17 release – continued.
“On the flip side, because there are fewer opportunities to attend social get-togethers, parties and large gatherings such as in-person networking events, weddings, concerts and the like that often serve alcohol or offer it. For some people, there may be less of an outside influence to consume alcoholic beverages, too.”
Other stars who have enjoyed sober months include Kelly Ripa, Rumer Willis and Lo Bosworth, CEO of LoveWellness, who wrote the foreword to Sheinbaum’s book.
The ‘Home Improvement’ star recognized his 22 years of sobriety this March.
(Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Moët & Chandon)
Tim Allen had credited stand-up comedy for saving him after a past that included time served in a federal prison for cocaine possession, being arrested for a DUI and a stint in rehab.
After a self-commitment to change, the “Home Improvement” actor proudly discussed his 22 years of sobriety during an appearance on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” in March.
"I've been drugs- and alcohol-free for about 22 years," Allen, 66, said, revealing that someone reached out to him before he got sober.
"Because I had money and I was a star, people help, they enable you to get by," recalled the comedian.
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"The program I practice, it's all about as soon as you get it, you gotta give it away. A kid can't hold on to all these toys, and every time he sees a new toy, and he goes, 'Mine,' you gotta drop one of those before you can grab another one."
He acknowledged his radical transition "doesn't happen overnight. It's a day-to-day thing."
Garbutt praised that outlook.
“Realizing that 'Rome wasn't built in a day' is important, and there will be ups and downs, but over time one's life can improve immensely,” he said.
Heather Locklear celebrated one year of sobriety this March.
Heather Locklear revealed she celebrated a year of sobriety in March after a tumultuous two years that saw the actress hospitalized, sued and in an outpatient drug rehab after many personal tribulations.
The former “Melrose Place” star, 59, announced the milestone in a post on Instagram, noting that social distancing during the pandemic meant physical contact would have to wait.
“Hugs will come later! 1 year sober today!!!,” she proudly wrote.
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The message was shared alongside an image of a lengthy quote – attributed to Maya Angelou – about “life” and what it means to “live”.
A part of the passage read: “I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.”
Dax Shepard is in therapy with his wife, Kristen Bell, after admitting to a relapse earlier this year.
(Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
Dax Shepard has never shied away from speaking candidly about his sobriety journey, and he recently confessed he relapsed and was abusing prescription pills.
The 45-year-old actor – who was 16 years sober before the slip – underwent surgery in August after breaking multiple bones in a motorcycle accident. He also shattered his left hand in an off-road accident earlier in the year.
As part of his recovery, the “Bless This Mess” star was prescribed painkillers and admitted to taking too much Vicodin for his pain, before progressing to taking the more powerful painkiller Oxycotin, downing eight 30mg pills a day.
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He apologized to his wife, actress Kristen Bell, for "this enormous secret" and "gaslighting" her during an episode of his “Armchair Expert” podcast in September.
"My tolerance is going up so quickly that I'm now in a situation where I'm taking, you know, eight 30s a day, and I know that's an amount that's going to result in a pretty bad withdrawal. And I start getting really scared, and I'm starting to feel really lonely. And I just have this enormous secret,” he confessed.
Speaking out about his relapse, Bell confirmed she would stand by her husband of 7 years (they also have two daughters – Lincoln, 7, and Delta, 5).
"We have a plan. If he has to take medication for any reason, I have to administer it. But he was like, 'So we need a stronger plan. I was faltering, and I have to do some sort of emotional work to figure out why I wanted to use again,'" she said
The “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” actress said they were back in therapy.
Fox News' Naledi Ushe, Julius Young, Mariah Haas, Nate Day and Jessica Napoli contributed to this report.
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