Lessons From Celebs You May Not Know Battled Addiction
“Addiction is a brutal, cunning, shapeshifting enemy, but I’ve seen people from every walk of life kick it in the ****ing mouth.
— Comedian Rob Delaney
Celebrities have no special powers when it comes to battling drug addiction. But those with star power like writer and comedian Rob Delaney, who got sober 15 years ago, have a platform we mere mortals will never be able to leverage to help individuals who are struggling with addiction.
Delaney, the star of “Catastrophe” and anointed the funniest person on Twitter by Comedy Central, got drunk for the first time when he was 12. During his “drinking career,” Delaney says, he was suspended from high school for coming to class hung over, as an adult bought himself plastic sheets because he wet the bed so often, got in car crashes and drunken fights with his girlfriend, and vomited every morning. His travails include spending time in jail, a psychiatric hospital and a halfway house. It’s all in his recovery memoir “Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.”
It was only after Delaney drove his car into a building that he decided to get sober. He broke up his own body in the crash, but his biggest fear was that someone had been killed. He wrote in his memoir that he’d have taken his own life if someone had died at his hands. When he learned no one else was involved, he swore from that moment on that he’d never drink again.
That addiction can happen to anyone is one truth Delaney wants us all to fully embrace. The other is that recovery can, too.
And, like most people with substance abuse issues, Delaney has an underlying mental health problem that fueled his drinking. His, he says, is unipolar depression for which he now takes medication. The comedian wrote about his depression for the sole reason, he said, to help others. “A HAPPY PRODUCTIVE LIFE is possible and statistically likely. Get help. Don’t think. Get help,” he wrote.
Here are more famous folks you may not know battled alcohol or drug addiction and what we can learn from them.
Michael J. Fox: ‘Is This What You Want’?
The veteran comic actor who starred in the “Back to the Future” trilogy, “Spin City” and “Family Ties,” says he turned to alcohol in 1991 to cope with the news that he had Parkinson’s disease.
“For a time I dealt with it with alcohol, which turned out to be a disaster,” Fox told Parade magazine. “I’d always been kind of a partier, but this was the first time I was drinking in order not to feel something. It had a dark purpose.”
About a year after his diagnosis, Fox said he awakened one morning and saw his wife’s face. “She said, ‘Is this what you want?’ Instantly I knew — no, this isn’t what I want or who I am,” said Fox, who quit drinking in 1992.
“I recognized I had choices about drinking, and that made me realize I had choices about Parkinson’s as well,” the Hollywood superstar said.
As Fox discovered, entering recovery can have a snowball effect on one’s life. Thanks to therapy, Fox said his marriage “got great” and his career took off again.
Chrissy Teigen: ‘I Have to Fix Myself’
Model and television personality Chrissy Teigen recently told Cosmopolitan magazine that she was “point blank, just drinking too much.”
Teigen said she became accustomed to drinking during hair and makeup sessions, and would then carry that drinking over into the evenings. She “made an a**” of herself time after time, she said, in front of the people she cared about the most.
Nevertheless, “Nobody really brought it up to me,” Teigen said.
Celebrities tend to be surrounded by people who are loathe to confront them with uncomfortable truths. Teigen said it was a trip with the family to a wellness retreat in Bali where she felt “really, really wonderful” while not drinking that helped her realize what she had been doing to herself.
“I would wake up feeling amazing … I was just so happy,” she told the magazine. She is now committed to maintaining her sobriety.
Moreover, the star, who takes medications for postpartum depression and anxiety, says, “alcohol is like the least thing that helps.”
What We Can Learn From Teigen’s Experience:
- If someone close to you has a drinking problem: Tell them you’re worried about them but do not label them an alcoholic. Ask them to give you five uninterrupted minutes but only when they are not intoxicated. Scolding will surely backfire so focus instead on how they are hurting themselves. Show the person compassion and respect. They may get mad, but after reflecting for a while, they may also come to appreciate your concern. Find Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for them, and be ready to escort them to a treatment center.
- Alcohol can actually increase anxiety: While “unwinding” with a glass of wine after a long day might help take your mind off your troubles, tolerance builds quickly and you may soon find yourself drinking more to get the same effect. If you suffer from anxiety, those uncomfortable, ruminating feelings will return as alcohol withdrawal symptoms begin, and you may find yourself reaching for another drink in an effort to ward them off.
Demi Moore and Bruce Willis’ Daughters Are All in Recovery
Rumer, Scout and Tallulah Willis have more in common than their famous parents. In separate social media posts, the young women wrote that they are all in recovery. The oldest, Rumer, who won the 20th season of “Dancing with the Stars,” says in her post she “has never been more proud of myself in my entire life.”
Tallulah shared her thoughts, writing that, “Self-annihilation fueled with medicating left me a shell, and the world on mute … staying sober has been far and beyond the most important thing I’ve done in my wee 23 years.”
Scout celebrated her one-year sober anniversary, marking a year, she wrote, with no “filters, no chemical relaxation, no short cuts.”
The trio hit on several common themes in addiction and recovery — self-destruction and self-medicating, to name just a couple. Rumer’s post also included the admonition to “remember to be gentle with yourself.” That’s an important message for everyone in recovery to hear. Self-compassion is critical for lasting sobriety. Guilt and low self-esteem run rampant in the hearts and minds of individuals in recovery from substance abuse. But berating oneself for the mistakes of the past is a self-sabotaging, destructive behavior that leads to feelings of shame and self-hatred, and, too often, relapse. In fact, a study in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction states that “compassionate mind states may be learned, and may alleviate shame, as well as other distressing outcomes, such as depression, anxiety, self-attacks, feelings of inferiority and submissive behavior.” Positive self-talk, on the other hand, protects against relapse.
To be sure, anyone can get sober, Hollywood celebrity or not. If being a heavy drinker or drug user isn’t what you want or who you are, reach out for help. You’ll likely find beating addiction to be the most important, empowering thing you’ve ever done, too.