The frequency of celebrities losing their lives to addiction is a way too common occurrence that we’ll never get used to reporting on. Many of us expect those blessed with fame and fortune to have more to live for than drugs and alcohol, but sadly their affluence can sometimes be the main source to their excessive abuse of illegal and/or addictive substances. We’ve seen it happen to late entertainers like Amy Winehouse, DMX, Juice WRLD, Mac Miller, Michael K. Williams, Jimi Hendrix, Whitney Houston, and the King of Pop Michael Jackson — we could go on, but sadly it wouldn’t be a short list in the least bit.
On a lighter note though, there are a handful of celebs who’ve overcome their addiction and stand as examples that it’s never too late to shake the habit. Rap veteran and reality TV pioneer Flavor Flav recently revealed that he’s been sober for two years after a decades-long battle with drug abuse.
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Flav, who came to fame as the eccentric member of iconic rap group Public Enemy, made headlines last year by celebrating his one-year sobriety from alcohol on October 19, 2021. His manager confirmed at the time that he also was sober of cigarettes for 15 months, in addition to an applause-worthy 13 years clean of hard drugs. His narcotics habit reached dangerous peaks in the early ’90s, ranging from cocaine and marijuana charges in 1993 all the way to a full-on intervention arranged by his family to get him checked into the Betty Ford Center for crack-cocaine addiction.
Take a look at just how bad the drug habit affected Flavor Flav’s pockets based on a 2011 interview below, via The Hollywood Reporter:
“Flav, whose real name is William Drayton, said he spent nearly six million dollars on drugs and that he lost his virginity at age six.
The Flavor Of Love star told AOL’s Popeater he was ‘spending $2,600 a day, for six years, every single day’ during the darkest days of his addiction to cocaine.
‘I don’t know how much that is but if you did the math, wow, I went through a lot of money,’ he added.”
He credits a 2003 trip to California with Public Enemy bandmate Chuck D with being his sobering grace, and soon after landed a deal with VH1 that was influenced greatly by execs seeing that he’d made strides in overcoming the drug abuse.
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We commend Flavor Flav for everything he’s done to break a habit that unfortunately has killed many in his position as celebrities with the world at their fingertips. Thankfully he isn’t alone in the feat, and we wanted to highlight a handful of other famous faces who put in the work to end an epidemic directly affecting the Black community specifically.
Learn a thing or two from these 8 celebrities that beat addiction, and click here for resources on how you can do the same for yourself or a loved one:
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Sober Living: 8 Inspiring Stories of Celebrities Overcoming Addiction was originally published on blackamericaweb.com
1. EminemSource:Getty Images
The rap icon’s battle with opioid addiction, fueled by childhood trauma, spousal abuse and the murder of close friend Proof, played a huge toll on his musical output and overall physical appearance for much of the 2000s. Thankfully Eminem was able to channel those struggles into the music while also reaching out for help to overcome his life-threatening drug abuse.
2. Nicole RichieSource:Getty
The famed heiress, daughter to R&B icon Lionel Ritchie, actually accredited her past cocaine habit to being a “bored” 18-year-old with the world at her feet and a party to attend every night. After getting hooked on heroin by her early 20s, Nicole made a personal decision to get sober and hasn’t touched either drug in years to our knowledge.
3. Jada Pinkett-SmithSource:abc
One of the memorable conversations on her hit Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk centered on addiction, to which Jada revealed she was once addicted to drugs, alcohol and even porn during her early career. Motherhood, marriage and a will to live a healthier life led her to defying the habit for the better.
4. Lamar OdomSource:TV One
Referring to his simultaneous cocaine and sex addictions as a “demon,” the former NBA star lost both his basketball career and marriage to reality star Khloé Kardashian as a result of his problem. Nowadays, he’s doing better and even rebuilding his celebrity status on various shows like Dancing with the Stars, Celebrity Big Brother 3 and the new College Hill: Celebrity Edition.
5. Chrissy TeigenSource:Getty
The loving mom and wife of EGOT recipient John Legend realized her drinking was becoming a problem soon after experiencing the tragedy of suffering a life-saving abortion in 2020. Therapy, spousal support and the love of her two surviving children have allowed Chrissy to see other ways of coping.
6. Diana RossSource:Getty
Rarely would you expect a sweet-as-pie pop diva like Diana Ross to ever have a drinking problem. However, a 2002 DUI arrest for driving in the wrong direction revealed an addiction to both alcohol and painkillers that had been existent for years prior. Rehab and support from her famous family over the years has helped The Supremes queen shake her habits.
7. Samuel L. JacksonSource:(Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
The A-list actor is one of Hollywood’s premiere men currently, but just before his career kicked off he was battling a serious addiction to crack-cocaine. After a rehab stint, he was able to channel those struggles into an unforgettable breakout role as crackhead Gator Purify in the 1991 classic Spike Lee joint, Jungle Fever.
8. Oprah WinfreySource:Getty
If there’s anyone who can prove that life exists outside of drug addiction, it’s without a doubt the undisputed queen of media. Revealing what she referred to as her “life’s great big secret” on a 1995 episode of her now-defunct beloved talk show, Oprah allowed viewers to not only directly relate with her struggles but also have a success story worth emulating.