It doesn’t matter if you love them or hate them, celebrity culture shapes our society for better or for worse. The drug-du-jour can be passed down through iconography and entertainment but addiction, no matter the substance, has root causes far beyond the popularization of the lifestyle. Whether you’re famous or not, addiction is never “all that glitters is gold” as it’s been purported through glossy magazines profiles and music videos. Thanks to sober celebrities (and everyday people) speaking out about their addiction and recovery journeys, we’re seeing a wave of acceptance and support for overcoming substance use disorder and living sober.
These seven celebrities get real on how sobriety has changed their life with quotes that will surely inspire your own recovery journey.
“I am a survivor… I’ve survived a lot of things. Life is full of pitfalls, even when you’re sober. I can deal with them now because I don’t have to run away and hide. What I couldn’t do when I was an addict was communicate, except when I was on cocaine I thought I could but I talked rubbish… I have a confrontation problem which I don’t have anymore because I learned if you don’t communicate and you don’t talk about things then you’re never going to find a solution.” – Elton John, Variety, May 2019
Jada Pinkett Smith
“I found myself drinking two bottles of wine on the couch and I said, ‘Jada, I think we’ve got a problem here’… I had problems with alcohol and I really had to get in contact with the pain, whatever that is, and then I had to get some other tools in how to deal with the pain. From that day on I went cold turkey.” – Jada Pinkett Smith, Contact Music, 2014
“When I get sober something magical happens again. You had that like, ‘Oh I’m back.’ I can dream again, I have thoughts, I have emotions, I can feel my heart — those things go away in active addiction. Yeah, I think having a creative outlet — physical outlet, whatever outlet it is but something that separates you from, maybe your job if your job isn’t your passion. I think that’s super important. That love for life and that feeling of ‘You know, I’m here for a reason.'” – Macklemore, KEXP, May 2018
“Today I would’ve had 7 years sober. I don’t regret going out because I needed to make those mistakes but I must never forget that’s exactly what they were: mistakes. Grateful that AA/NA never shuts the door on you no matter how many times you have to start your time over. I didn’t lose 6 years; I’ll always have that experience but now I just get to add to that time with a new journey and time count. If you’ve relapsed and are afraid to get help again, just know it’s possible to take that step towards recovery. If you’re alive today, you can make it back. You’re worth it.” – Demi Lovato, Instagram, March 2019
Samuel L. Jackson
“I had a very good theatre reputation. Granted, I was a fucking drug addict and I was out of my mind a lot of the time, but I had a good reputation. Showed up on time, knew my lines, hit my marks. I just wasn’t making a lot of money, but I was very satisfied artistically. I was doing Pulitzer prize-winning plays. I was working with people who made me better, who challenged me. So I was doing things the right way, it was just that one thing that was in the way — my addiction. And once that was out of the way, it was — boom! The door blew wide open.” – Samuel L. Jackson, The Guardian, June 2016
“Rehab isn’t what finally got me sober. It was nearly losing everything and finally seeing that whatever benefit I thought alcohol gave me was outweighed by what it would cost me… ‘You’re removing the capacity to be present, not just in the bad moments.’ You’re numbing the good feelings. You’re numbing everything. It’s profoundly selfish.” – Elizabeth Vargas, People, September 2016
“Getting sober and getting my life in order has really changed my perspective on the creative process. It used to be fraught with fear. I would try to trick myself into avoiding working, because it was the most difficult, painful self-examination imaginable. That process is no less difficult, but it’s become actually enjoyable. The act of getting in there and examining–failing at times and succeeding at other times and learning in the process–has become something I actually enjoy and look forward to.” – Trent Reznor, Fast Company, May 2014
At the end of the day, everyone has their own reason for getting sober and their own path to recovery. Celebrities choosing to come out as sober are using their platform to help show others that there’s no shame in addiction and recovery is possible.