“There is a predominant voice in the mind of an addict that supersedes all reason and that voice wants you dead. This voice is the unrelenting echo of an unfulfillable void.”
~ Russell Brand, speaking about fellow actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died in 2014 of a heroin overdose
On the outside, they seem to have it all – fame, fortune, beauty, talent, glamour, enviable love lives, and the adulation of millions. Because they can have anything, they want for nothing.
But as the tabloid headlines remind, it seems that for many celebrities, substance abuse and fame go hand in hand. It seems as if there is always a new tabloid headline about some famous actor or musician passing away because of alcoholism and/or drug addiction.
Why Do so Many Celebrities Battle Substance Abuse?
At first glance, it is a very valid question – WHY would someone who literally has everything want to throw it all away on booze and drugs?
Addiction does not discriminate. The disease does not care if you are rich or poor, famous or anonymous, noteworthy or everyday. In fact, an argument can be made that some of the contributory factors that can cause a person to develop an addiction are magnified by the trappings of fame.
Some possible reasons why so many celebrities are prone to substance abuse are:
- Constant pressure to perform – Entertainment is an industry, and because of the billions of dollars and thousands of jobs involved, many celebrities are told that “the show must ALWAYS go on”, regardless of how they feel.
- Overly-high expectations – Many celebrities feel that they must always be “perfect” – perfectly made-up, perfectly thin, and always upbeat, interesting, and accommodating. They don’t get to have an “off day”.
- No boundaries – Along with the wealth to do whatever they want, many of the people around celebrities cater to every whim. Celebrities get used to overindulgence.
- Constant public scrutiny – Every movement a celebrity makes is instantly on the Internet or tabloids and in the public eye. Any semblance of privacy or personal space is taken away.
When all of these factors are combined, it is easy to see why many celebrities turn to alcohol and drugs in an attempt to cope with the tremendous pressure. And just like everybody else, celebrities can get trapped by the disease of addiction. Unfortunately, some never recover.
They Were Only 27 Years Old
Jim Morrison –Both Rolling Stone and Classic Rock Magazine have called Morrison one of the greatest singers in rock history. As front man for the Doors, he epitomized youthful rebellion and 1960’s counterculture. Hits include “Riders on the Storm“, “Hello, I Love You“, and “Break on through (to the Other Side)”.
The son of a U.S. Navy Rear Admiral, Morrison was allegedly traumatized as a child when he witnessed an accident on an Indian reservation. Also, his parents used a form of discipline known as “dressing down” – when a child would not perform as expected, they would be yelled at until they were crying. As an adult, Morrison broke off contact.
Drugs were everywhere during this era, and Morrison tended to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol as a faulty coping method to deal with his trauma and depression. He also believed that drugs expanded his perceptions and helped his creativity.
He was of course, incorrect, and his bandmates had occasion to speak to him out of concern. As a substance abuse took its toll, Morrison became unreliable. He would give incoherent or poor performances on stage, and he would miss recording sessions. Even his appearance began to change.
On Saturday, July 3, 1971, Jim Morrison died of a heart attack when he snorted heroin that he mistook for cocaine. He was only 27 years old.
Jimi Hendrix –Despite the fact that the prime of his career only lasted four years, Jimi Hendrix is regarded as one of the greatest – perhaps the greatest – and most influential electric guitarists in the history of rock and roll. At one point, he was the world’s highest-paid performer.
Both of Hendrix’s parents were alcoholics, and as a child, he would hide in closets so he wouldn’t have to witness their physical violence towards each other. His relationships with his siblings was also harmed by his parents’ addiction, because his older brother was in and out of foster care, while his three younger siblings were given up for adoption. He was also allegedly sexually abused by a “man in a uniform”.
Hendrix’s mother died of cirrhosis when he was 15, and rather than take Hendrix and his brother to her funeral, his father instead gave the boys whiskey and told them that’s how men dealt with grief.
As an adult, Hendrix regularly drank, smoked hashish, and used both LSD and amphetamines. Normally, Hendrix was regarded as a kind person, but when he drank, he could have violent outbursts fueled by what one friend termed a “destructive fury”.
On September 18, 1970, Hendrix died in London, choking on his own vomit while intoxicated on his girlfriend’s prescription barbiturates – having taken 18 times the recommended dosage. He was only 27 years old.
Janice Joplin –Called “the Queen of Psychedelic Soul”, is ranked by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest artists and one of the greatest singers of all time. Joplin became a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.
As a teenager and young adult, Joplin was teased for her appearance and unconventional attitude, and was called such names as “pig”, “creep”, and “freak”. In college, one fraternity voted her the “Ugliest Man on Campus”.
As a rising talent in the music scenes of Los Angeles, Houston, Austin, and eventually Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, the insecure Joplin drank heavily and shot up with Methedrine. Her addiction got so bad that she was forced to move back to Texas for a time in an attempt to get clean.
When she moved back to California, she quickly succumbed again, going back to alcohol and developing a $200-a-day heroin habit. She would “skin pop” in order to get the maximum effect from the drug.
On her last night – October 4, 1970 – Joplin downed a quart of tequila, a couple of Valiums, and shot up. They found her body 18 hours later. She was only 27 years old.
Amy Winehouse –In 2006, English singer and songwriter Winehouse became the first British female recording artist to win five Grammys, for her album, Back to Black. Her wins included Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best New Artist.
Winehouse suffered from a plethora of emotional and mental problems, including depression, bipolar disorder, deliberate self-harm, and eating disorders. She self-medicated with cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, crack, ketamine, and most especially, alcohol.
Her appearance, behavior, and abilities to perform became erratic. Her record label abandoned an American promotional campaign for her, believing her to be too much of a risk. Her manager and her father tried to have her involuntarily committed.
On July 23, 2011, Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning, with a blood alcohol level that was five times Britain’s drink-drive limit. She was only 27 years old.
Why is it so important that they were all only 27 years old? Addiction destroys lives, and it is always a waste, no matter the person’s age. But at 27, a person is still in the prime of their life, with so much unrealized potential still lying ahead. These four celebrities were all at the height of their careers, and it serves to magnify the destructive influence of drugs and alcohol.
If you have a problem with substance abuse, then you owe it to yourself and your future to seek help today. No matter how old you are or where you are in life, you still have untapped potential. Do not waste it. If you live in Colorado, call the compassionate addiction rehab experts at AspenRidge Recovery today.