Heroin addiction is a widespread problem in the United States; according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 669,000 American adults have used heroin in the past year.
Most of these cases of drug abuse don’t make headlines, but a number of famous people have spoken publicly about their struggle with heroin addiction. In this post, we’ll talk about some famous names who suffered from a heroin problem and see what happened to each of these celebrities.
Famous People Who Beat Heroin Addiction
Robert Downey, Jr.
Robert Downey, Jr. may be best known for the Iron Man franchise today, but he spent many years in the throes of heroin addiction. His battle with substance abuse was marked by erratic behavior that landed him in the tabloids, and he was arrested on more than one occasion.
Downey’s story has an inspiring ending: He’s been clean since 2003, and he was able to turn his career around once he began a sober lifestyle, appearing in numerous movies and television shows and signing a $100 million contract for the latest Iron Man installment.
Another famous name who struggled with heroin addiction is Angelina Jolie. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Jolie recalled her days of drug abuse: “I took just about every drug possible—coke, ecstasy, heroin, everything.” Since beating her addiction, Jolie has become a Hollywood mega-star, is a mother of six, and is involved in a number of humanitarian efforts.
Comedian and actor Russell Brand’s struggles with heroin and addiction took him down dark paths in life.
“The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction, and unless they have structured help they have no hope,” Brand said in 2013.
Now in his twelfth year of sobriety, Brand credits meditation as a significant factor in his recovery.
Unfortunately, not every story about famous people and heroin addiction has a positive outcome. Heroin claims thousands of lives each year, and some of those casualties involve high-profile celebrities.
Legendary singer Janis Joplin died at the young age of 27 from a heroin overdose, and River Phoenix also died after his heart stopped from an overdose of heroin. Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain committed suicide in 1994, but he had spent the last few years of his life struggling with a serious heroin problem.
Why Do They Use?
It’s natural to wonder why celebrities and other famous, privileged people would use heroin when they appear to have a desirable life. Some addiction experts suggest that heroin’s appeal among celebrities might lie in its ability to help users escape reality—a tempting idea for high-visibility people who may be weary of paparazzi and groupies.
High-profile, successful celebrities may also feel a sense of invincibility, believing that things like addiction could never happen to them. While these factors may contribute to heroin use among celebrities, addiction professionals are quick to point out that heroin addiction is a problem that affects all professions and demographic groups.
Heroin addiction is a disease that doesn’t discriminate; even the rich and famous can struggle with drug abuse.