Drinking to mask depression, slipping from social into dependent drinking, hiding their drinking so as to avoid the label of alcoholism – the tales of alcoholic celebrities are not unlike those of anyone else who has battled addiction.
Many celebrities have spoken about the dark days of their own dependency to raise alcohol awareness and show others they are not alone.
Their stories are valuable – if not uncommon. By speaking about facing their demons, celebrities help to break the taboo, silence and shame around addiction, which remains prevalent in society. Only one in four people we asked in a recent survey said they would be open about getting help for an addiction.
By speaking out, alcoholic celebrities, show that wealth, fame and success do not make people immune to addiction. And with mental health issues so often at the heart of addiction, their stories help to show others that they deserve help and can achieve recovery.
Here we take a look at some of the messages held within the alcoholism stories of five celebrities.
In a recent interview that gained a lot of attention on the internet, the actor and comedian Tony Slattery, explored the origin of his alcohol and substance abuse.
The interview, published by The Guardian, said the star of the 90s TV show ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway’ at the height of his career, had a daily diet of 10g of cocaine and drinking two bottles of vodka. Later, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The condition, which used to be known as manic depression, sees people encountering episodes of each depression, which sees them feeling very low and mania, which makes them feel very high and overactive.
In the poignant piece, Tony said there was ‘no question’ his substance misuse was tied to his mental illness.
“Bipolarity often presents itself as something else, like a rash can present as lupus or Lyme disease,” he said.
TV favourite Ant McPartlin spoke out about the dangers of drinking after leaving a second stint in rehab.
He told The Sun he went from a social drinker to alcohol dependency.
He said: “The longer you drink — and I’m talking about decades of drinking — you use it as escapism and a way to change how you feel.
“But alcohol is not the solution. You’ve got to deal with where your unhappiness is.”
Britain’s Got Talent and I’m A Celebrity host Ant’s second rehab stint followed an arrest for drink driving. His employer ITV stuck by him and he has now returned to screens alongside presenting partner Dec.
Loose Women host and former Coronation Street actress Denise Welch is a champion of the message that whatever your age, it is never too late to leave alcohol behind.
She has written a book – Staying Sober, Staying Slim, Staying Sane – to show others the lifestyle changes she made to become alcohol-free.
She told The Mirror: “The book is answering questions that people ask me on a daily basis. A lot of people want to make changes in their life, and they think that when they get to a certain age they can’t.
“But I’m the proof in the pudding that whatever age you are, you can turn your life around.
“This is about how I live my life sober.”
Denise has an ongoing battle with clinical depression and has said she used alcohol to ‘self medicate’, but it made things worse.
Hollywood star Ben Affleck spoke openly about his alcoholism on the Today programme, following a 40-day stint in treatment.
He said: “It doesn’t really bother me to talk about alcoholism and being an alcoholic.
“It’s part of my life, something that I deal with. It doesn’t have to subsume my whole identity and be everything but it’s something you have to work at.
“I had a problem and I really wanted to address it. I take some pride in that.”
Actor Simon Pegg has said he is lucky to be alive after a battle with depression and drink. He too drank to help him cope with his emotions.
He told the Guardian he was in a spiral of feeling low and a drinking to feel better and credits rehab with turning things around.
The filming of Mission Impossible III, in which he stars, represents the beginning of what he calls his crisis years.
He said: “When I watch that film back, I can see where I was then, which was fairly lost, and unhappy, and an alcoholic.
“People think junkies and alcoholics are slovenly, unmotivated people. They’re not – they are incredibly organised. They can nip out for a quick shot of whisky and you wouldn’t know they have gone. But eventually, the signs are too obvious.
“I don’t think I would be here now if I hadn’t had help.”