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6 Unbelievably Successful Former Addicts and Alcoholics

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Tales of troubled stars can highlight just how hard it is to break free of addiction, but celebrities and popular figures who have done just that can be a big inspiration for those still struggling with substance abuse. From actors who have combatted childhood addictions to rising stars who had to break free from the lure of drugs and alcohol, these inspirational former addicts and alcoholics show that prior drug problems don’t have to be an impediment to success.

Drew Barrymore

By the time Drew Barrymore was 14, she had already done two stints in rehab. However, since recovering from her addictions, she has gone on to remake her adult career playing sweet, wholesome roles that inspire fans. For Drew, though, one of her biggest successes is being part of a healthy, loving family. She and her husband, art consultant Will Kopelman, had their first child in September, 2012, proving that even someone beset by childhood addiction can have both professional and personal success later in life.

Martin Sheen

While he is most familiar as a distinguished actor, Martin Sheen is also an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous. After recovering from years of heavy drinking, the actor now advocates for better rehab and recovery programs across America. He credits his Roman Catholic faith for giving him the strength to quit drinking, and since becoming sober has gone on to garner Emmy nominations and earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He’s also a success at social activism, showing that a former addict can help change the world for the better.

Jamie Lee Curtis

Jamie Lee Curtis’ became addicted to painkillers prescribed to her after surgery when she was 35. However, she finally broke free of addiction after realizing the toll it was taking on her daughter, stating in a 2009 Huffington Post editorial: “My recovery from drug addiction is the single greatest accomplishment of my life.” Since breaking free of drugs, Jamie Lee Curtis has not only continued her acting career, but has also become a successful children’s book author and social activist.

Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr. has had a very public battle with addiction, with many of his drug arrests and stints in rehab playing out in the glare of the media. Once he made the decision to go sober, he went on to star in some of his biggest roles, as the comic book character Iron Man and the classic sleuth Sherlock Holmes. In 2004, he explained to Oprah Winfrey during an interview on her show, “It’s not that difficult to overcome these seemingly ghastly problems…what’s hard is to decide to actually do it.”

Josh Hamilton

Baseball player Josh Hamilton almost lost his career to drug addiction, but a stern grandmother willing to confront him about his addiction and a return to his faith helped him get back onto a healthier path. Since halting his drug use, he has revived his career in Major League Baseball and earned the distinction of being a five-time MLB All-Star and winning the 2010 AL Most Valuable Player award.

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is one of the most famous and wealthiest women in the world, but in her 20s, she was a user of the dangerous drug crack cocaine. Her admission of her former drug use, which she revealed in an episode of her show, included details about how she had started using cocaine to please the man she was in love with at the time. Now free of drugs, Oprah enjoys the high that comes from controlling a media empire that includes books, television shows, and online publications.

Addiction and alcoholism can be difficult to overcome, but being a former addict doesn’t mean that you can’t go on to be successful. As these famous former addicts and alcoholics show, the choice to become sober can sometimes even be the push that makes a person catapult onward to bigger and better things.