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5 celebrities who have been on drugs and battled addiction

Tabloid exposes of celebrities on drugs feel like something we see on such a regular basis that it leaves you wondering who hasn’t done it.

Prime Minister candidate Michael Gove faced a barrage of interest when he admitted to taking cocaine in his early career as a reporter.

He is among those whose drug-taking did not tip over into addiction but many are not so fortunate.

Drugs become a crutch, an avoidance tactic, a way of life and coping for so many, even when they are managing to maintain an illusion of being in control. It is usually only after recovery they reflect and see how damaging their drug use had become to them and those around them.

The experiences of celebrities are reflected throughout society and their words can be a huge positive in raising drug awareness and helping us all to further understand how addiction can take hold.

Elton John

Los Angeles, USA – March 5, 2019: closeup of Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Elton John.

Sir Elton John is open about the regrets he has over his cocaine-filled past and has said he wasted a big part of his life due to the drug, before finally getting help and clean through rehab. The journey is charted in the recent film of his life, Rocketman.

Sir John has spoken of addiction as a terrible thing that left him unwilling to change his destructive lifestyle for a long time despite the deaths of many friends. 

As The Telegraph reported, he once told Today: “I never considered myself a drug addict. I thought drug addicts were people who stuck needles in their arms – and I was the biggest junkie there was. 

“I came very close to dying. I’d have an epileptic seizure and turn blue and people would find me on the floor and put me to bed, and then 40 minutes later I’d be snorting another line.

“It was fun in the early days because I thought, being shy, that cocaine because it made me talk, was the key – ‘I can talk now, I can be one of the gang, I can fit in’. I lost all my friends and the people that loved me didn’t want to know me. My mother left the country.”

Trisha Goddard

TV chat show host Trisha Goddard has spoken of how she ‘self-medicated’ with cannabis as she battled clinical depression in her early career as a journalist.

Trisha told The Mirror she spent days in a drug-induced haze after nights of smoking joints until she passed out or binged on junk food.

She said:  “My life was in absolute chaos and things such as paying the bills and even cleaning my house were no longer important to me.

“But I didn’t care ­because I loved the mellow feeling that enveloped me when I smoked weed. And being stoned a lot helped me to block out the negative feelings that I felt about my life.

“If you live with ­depression, you do a certain amount of self-medication and smoking dope became my coping mechanism.” 

Trisha’s daughter Billie Dee Giandrancesco spoke to Port of Call about how she too went on to develop issues with drugs and alcohol, which she also sees as a symptom of her own mental health issues. 

Matt Healy

The frontman of the band The 1975 Matt Healy has spoken of a four-year addiction to heroin and getting clean with the help of a seven-week stay in a rehab clinic.

Songs on the band’s highly praised third album ‘A brief inquiry into online relationships’ relate to his addiction which he has said he is avidly keen not to romanticise or make excuses for. Matt has an open battle with anxiety and when discussing his relationship with heroin he indicates the two are linked.

He told the Independent: “There’s something very deep-seated in me. From quite a young age, I’ve had the desire to sedate myself.”

Matt is son of Tim Healy, one of the stars of the 1980s hit comedy-drama Auf Wiedersehen Pet and Denise Welch, Loose Women host and Coronation Street actress – who has spoken of her own battle with alcohol problems.

Diego Maradona

Diego Maradona, whose life story is unpicked in the recent big-screen documentary in his name, was battling cocaine addiction at the peak of his football career.

Widely accepted to be one of the greatest footballers ever, many, including Maradona himself, feel he did not live up to his infinite potential due to his drug-taking. His career was ultimately ended due to his addiction.

Metro has reported that in 2014 Maradona told Argentina’s Tyc Sports: ‘I gave my opponents a big advantage due to my illness. Do you know the player I could have been if I hadn’t taken drugs?”

Maradona started taking cocaine in the mid-80s and concurrently battled alcoholism, whilst continuing to play football at the highest level. He partied and took drugs for half the week and the other half he trained and played, going to great lengths to pass drug tests.

Maradona was handed his first 15-month ban in 1991 then arrested in Buenos Aires for possession of cocaine. Other bans followed and essentially ended his career. He told a news channel “his soul was broken.” 

He credits a stint in rehab with saving his life. Though fears for his health surfaced again in 2018 when he collapsed at the World Cup and later said he’d been drinking heavily.

Russell Brand

Russell Brand’s new book on addiction has received the attention it deserves

Perhaps one of the most outspoken recovered addicts there is, Russell Brand was addicted to heroin before entering rehab in 2002.

In 2018, he declared himself 16 years sober and urged others to reach out for help in a social media video. In the video, Russell, recalled his last ‘score’ when he felt “eggshell-fragile” and was sneaking off to do drugs in friends’ bathrooms.

He said: “Those of you that are struggling with drink, drugs, food, sex, porn, bad relationships, other people’s opinions, all of these things you can be liberated from.

“First, you have to admit it’s a problem. Then, you have to believe it’s possible to change. Then you have to ask for and accept help. I have freedom now. And you can have freedom too.”

About the author: Martin Preston

Martin is our Founder and Chief Executive. Martin is himself in long term recovery and started Port of Call to help families navigate treatment options. In 2020 Martin will open Delamere Health Ltd, the UK’s first purpose built addiction treatment clinic.

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