#1: Robin Williams
For comedian Robin Williams, alcohol is no laughing matter. Williams struggled with both alcohol and cocaine abuse in the 1980s. The 1982 death of fellow comedian John Belushi served as a wake-up call for Williams, prompting him to get help. The birth of his first child also helped Williams remain committed to his sobriety.
After more 20 years of sobriety, Williams suffered a relapse while on location in Alaska in 2003. In a 2010 interview with The Guardian, Williams says of his relapse, “I was in a small town where it’s not the edge of the world, but you can see it from there, and then I thought: drinking. I just thought, hey, maybe drinking will help. Because I felt alone and afraid.”
Williams said that his drinking quickly spiraled out of control again: “For that first week you lie to yourself, and tell yourself you can stop, and then your body kicks back and says, no, stop later. And then it took about three years, and finally you do stop.”
The comedian said he had many “if there but for the grace of God” moments in his most recent battle with alcoholism, ultimately not even knowing what city he was in on any given day.
A family intervention in 2006 helped the comedian seek help for his alcoholism a second time, checking into a treatment center for alcohol abuse. He continues to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings at least once every week.
Williams later told ABC’s Diane Sawyer that once he admitted to relapsing, the decision to seek help was easy. Williams says that relapses can happen, but rather than suffering guilt or shame in silence, seeking treatment is what matters.
The comedian, once a workaholic, is now slowing down in his professional life, taking time to stay focused on his health, family and sobriety.
#2: Martin Sheen
Troubled star Charlie Sheen might be able to learn a thing or two from his father and fellow actor, Martin Sheen. The West Wing Star, a recovering alcoholic and member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), says that he owes his sobriety to his religion. “I got sober through Catholicism, through my faith,” Sheen told AARP: The Magazine in 2008.
Sheen later became active in AA in an effort to help his son Charlie beat drugs and alcohol. The actor says that a friend recommended he join AA to learn more about addiction and the struggles other individual’s face.
Sheen told AARP that the experience was a transformation and helped him learn more about the “deeply personal journey” to recover from alcoholism. “No two journeys are alike,” says Sheen.
The actor later used this knowledge to reach out to his son. Ultimately, after Charlie was hospitalized for an overdose while on probation, Sheen was able to force his son into treatment. Doing so, he says, was anything but easy.
“You’re dealing with a life-and-death situation. And the critical part of the equation is: are you willing to risk your child’s wrath? They are not going to like you. Don’t even think about them loving you. They’re going to call you the most vicious, obscene names. You have to be prepared for that.”
Following the intervention, Sheen’s son Charlie was sober for several years before relapsing in 2011. However, despite the setbacks, Sheen remains committed to his own sobriety and helping others: “you have to be relentless.”
#3: Jamie Lee Curtis
For actress Jamie Lee Curtis, Hollywood’s obsession with eternal youth led her to begin abusing alcohol and prescription painkillers in her mid-30s. Following a cosmetic surgery procedure, Curtis became addicted to painkillers, mixing them with alcohol and drinking to excess.
As the actress approached middle age, Curtis says that she turned to alcohol to cope with the fear that she was becoming unattractive, not only to Hollywood, but also to her husband.
“I’d anesthetize myself on a daily basis,” confessed Curtis.
Curtis sought help after becoming concerned about the toll her addiction was taking on her daughter.
Today, the actress has been sober for more than a decade.
“My recovery is the single greatest accomplishment of my life. Without that, the rest of my life would have fallen apart,” said Curtis in a 2010 Today Show interview with Meredith Viera. “Recovery is an acceptance that your life is in a shambles and you have to change it. I was lucky, I didn’t have to lose anything.”
#4: Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore may have been an innocent, sweet-faced girl in the movie E.T., but thanks to the pressures of Hollywood and an unstable home life, this innocence did not last long. Barrymore reportedly began abusing alcohol by age 11; by age 13, Barrymore landed in rehab thanks to her alcohol and cocaine addictions.
Barrymore struggled to remain sober following her first rehab stint; without a stable home, the teenager continued to experiment with alcohol and drugs. With Barrymore stuck in a downward spiral, singer David Crosby and his wife stepped in to help. Crosby provided Barrymore with a stable home, which helped support her sobriety and kept her focused on living a balanced, healthy life.
Despite her teenage battle with alcohol and drug abuse, Barrymore is one of the only Hollywood child stars to successfully transition from early fame to A-List actress, director and producer. In addition to staring in romantic comedies like Charlie’s Angels, Ever After, and The Wedding Singer, Barrymore co-owns the production company Flower Films with her business partner, Nancy Juvonen.
Barrymore’s newest starring role is as a mother to Olive, her daughter with husband Will Kopelman. In a January 2013 interview with Oprah, Barrymore says that becoming a mother put her past struggles with alcoholism and drug abuse all in perspective. While Barrymore says she won’t be hiding her “wild child” past from daughter Olive, taking a similar path is simply “not an option.” Today, Barrymore says her life is all about moderation and being a good role model for her daughter.
#5: Ben Affleck
in 2001, the then 28-year-old Oscar winner and notorious Hollywood bad boy checked himself into rehab for alcohol abuse.
Affleck’s publicist at the time released a statement saying, “Ben is a self-aware and smart man who has decided that a fuller life awaits him without alcohol.”
A crazy Las Vegas trip reportedly helped Affleck realize that he was “just one bad night away from a big E! True Hollywood Story.”
Affleck shot to fame in 1997 after teaming with childhood best friend Matt Damon to write the Oscar winning screenplay Good Will Hunting. Following his early success, however, Affleck quickly succumbed to Hollywood’s hard-partying ways.
After publicly romancing Jennifer Lopez, Affleck also became a punchline for big expectations and big failures – and turned to alcohol to cope. Seeking treatment helped the star realign his priorities, slowly transforming from a tabloid party boy into a serious Hollywood actor and director.
Today, Affleck has been sober for more than a decade and married to actress Jennifer Gardner for over seven years, with whom he has three children. With his latest movie Argo capturing the Best Picture Oscar, Affleck is back on top.