Cocaine is a powerfully addictive substance that is abused for its potent stimulant effects. In Hollywood, it’s a common drug of choice at parties and nightclubs. However, the dark side of cocaine is a life full of secrecy, sleepless nights, and close calls.
Below is a list of famous people who have struggled with an addiction to cocaine.
Demi Lovato is a singer, songwriter, and mental health advocate. Lovato started acting at an early age. Her first major roles were on Barney & Friends and later on the Disney Channel’s television show Camp Rock. She has spoken openly about the struggles she’s faced, including depression, eating disorders, bullying, and addiction to cocaine and alcohol.
In an interview with Access Hollywood, she said:
“I couldn’t go without 30 minutes to an hour without cocaine and I would bring it on airplanes. I would smuggle it basically and just wait until everyone in first class would go to sleep and I would do it right there. I’d sneak to the bathroom and I’d do it. That’s how difficult it got and that was even with somebody [with me], I had a sober companion, somebody who was watching me 24/7 and living with me [and] I was able to hide it from them as well.8
Her book, Staying Strong: 365 Days a Year, includes 365 of Lovato’s daily affirmations for living healthy in addition to honest insights about her life.
She also launched a mental health awareness campaign called Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health to help those struggling with mental illness find support.
Aaron Sorkin is an award-winning screenwriter, famous for movies and television series such as A Few Good Men, The West Wing, The Social Network, and Moneyball. Sorkin is also a recovering cocaine addict.9
In 2001, Sorkin was arrested at Burbank Airport in California for trying to carry drug paraphernalia and cocaine, hallucinogenic mushrooms, and marijuana onto a flight to Las Vegas.10
“I had what they call a ‘high bottom,'” he said. “My life didn’t fall apart before I got into rehab. I didn’t lose my job or run over a kid or injure anyone when I was high. But the hardest thing I do every day is not take cocaine. You don’t get cured of addiction—you’re just in remission.”11
Robin Williams was a beloved comedian and actor who starred in television shows and movies such as Mork & Mindy, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Good Will Hunting. Williams battled alcohol and cocaine abuse during much of his career—he often spoke about cocaine in his comedy routines—until the death of his friend and Saturday Night Live actor John Belushi.
After Belushi’s overdose, Williams quit drugs and alcohol, saying, “the Belushi tragedy was frightening” and “his death scared a whole group of show-business people. It caused a big exodus from drugs.”12
After almost two decades of sobriety, Williams fell back into drinking alcohol and checked into a rehab center.13 In 2009, he had heart surgery, saying that he drew material for his upcoming comedy special on “a relapse, three years of heavy drinking, going to rehab in wine country to keep my options open, coming out of that, divorce, and open heart surgery.”14
In 2014, Williams committed suicide at the age of 63. Just a month prior to his death, he had checked into rehab.15
Grammy-award-winning singer Whitney Houston battled drug addiction for years, and during a 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer, Houston opened up about her career and substance abuse—saying that it wasn’t the drugs that were the problem, but herself.16
In 2012, Houston was found submerged in a filled bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. According to the autopsy report, she died of a combination of a possible heart attack and cocaine use. In addition, traces of marijuana, Xanax, and Benadryl were found in her system.17
More Articles On Famous Addicts
One of cocaine’s biggest supporters was the famous neurologist and father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud. When his best friend was battling an addiction to morphine, Freud helped him substitute cocaine for morphine—as substituting one substance for another was a common way to treat addiction during the 19th century.1
Despite the fact that his best friend became a cocaine and morphine addict and died at the age of 45, Freud continued to support and advocate for the use of cocaine.1
In another harrowing incident, Freud and his colleague almost killed a patient by administering too much cocaine, and this experience inspired his well-known piece, The Interpretation of Dreams. Freud writes about a dream where he meets the patient—whom he refers to as “Irma”—and she confronts him about his oversight. Freud continued with his own cocaine addiction until his father’s death, after which he claimed to put aside his “cocaine brush.”1
Stephen King is one of the world’s most well-known authors. Since publishing his first novel, Carrie, he has sold more than 350 million books.2 His other famous works include The Shining, It, and Misery, all of which have been made into films.
During a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, King spoke candidly about battling a cocaine addiction while raising a family and also writing. He says, “Yeah, coke. I was a heavy user from 1978 until 1986, something like that.”
“Oh, yeah, I had to,” he continued. “Booze, I could wait, and I didn’t drink or anything. But I used coke all the time.”2
He said The Tommyknockers was the last book he wrote before he got clean.2
“Misery is a book about cocaine. Annie Wilkes is cocaine. She was my number-one fan.”
David Bowie was a famous singer-songwriter from London who passed away in 2016 after a battle with cancer. In the early 70s, Bowie admittedly consumed huge amounts of cocaine. He later said that this was one of the worst times in his life and that he did not remember most of what happened.3
In an interview, Bowie talked about having “found a soulmate in this drug, which helped perpetuate that creative moment,” referencing his relationship to cocaine.4
In a 1975 interview, he said: “I never got into acid either. I did it three or four times and it was colorful, but my own imagination was already richer…I’ve had short flirtations with smack and things, but it was only for the mystery and the enigma. I like fast drugs. I hate anything that slows me down.”3
Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson defined a new literary genre for generations of readers: gonzo journalism. The author is most famous for writing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas—a story that started out as an assignment from Sports Illustrated to write a 250-word photo caption on a motorcycle race, The Mint 400. The trip turned out to be much less about motorcycles and more about Thompson’s drug use.18
A 1994 book that documented Thompson’s daily routine noted that he did cocaine 11 times a day, in addition to other drugs including LSD, marijuana, and alcohol.7
Thompson reportedly committed suicide in 2005, leaving behind a note that was titled “Football Season is Over.” His final wish was to have his close friends, including Johnny Depp and John Kerry, shoot his ashes out of a cannon under a full moon.19
. CNN. (2011). Sigmund Freud’s cocaine problem.
. Rolling Stone Magazine. (2014). Stephen King: The Rolling Stone Interview.
. Rolling Stone Magazine. (2014). David Bowie: 7 Wild Quotes From the ‘Station to Station’ Era.
. Egan, S. (2015). Bowie on Bowie: Interviews and Encounters with David Bowie. Chicago Review Press.
. Washington Post. (1995). Oprah Winfrey Admits Drug Use.
. Washington Post. (1995). Oprah Winfrey Admits Drug Use.
. Hooton, C. (2016). Hunter S. Thompson’s daily routine was the height of dissolution. Independent.
. Spero, J. (2013). Demi Lovato Reveals: I Would ‘Smuggle’ Cocaine on Planes. Access Hollywood.
. McRady, R. (2014). Aaron Sorkin’s Touching Tribute: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death Saved 10 Lives. US Weekly.
. ABC News. (2001). Sorkin Talks Drug Arrest, Denies Sheen Rift.
. HuffPost. (2010). Aaron Sorkin: The Hardest Thing I Do Every Day Is Not Take Cocaine.
. Baylis, S. (2014). Robin Williams Back in Rehab to ‘Focus on Continued Commitment’ to Sobriety. People.
. Aitkenhead, D. (2010). Robin Williams: ‘I was shameful, did stuff that caused disgust – that’s hard to recover from.’ The Guardian.
. Ingrassia, L. (2009). Robin Williams: How Heart Surgery Changed My Life. People.
. Errico, M. (2014). Robin Williams Dead of Apparent Suicide at 63. Yahoo!
. ABC News. Houston Interview: Drug Addiction.
. The Chicago Tribune. (2012). Extent of cocaine use revealed in official Houston autopsy report.
. Doyle, P. (2017). Rolling Stone at 50: How Hunter S. Thompson Became a Legend. Rolling Stone.
. Brinkley, D. (2005). Football Season Is Over: Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005. Rolling Stone.