Celebrity gossip magazines love to reveal the shocking details of famous people who have developed a drug or alcohol addiction. There is an appetite for the gory details of how people fall from grace. This type of story has become so common that few will be surprised to hear about any celebrity being caught overindulging in these mind altering substances. It has almost become accepted that fame does this to people – some might even call it the price of stardom. This picture is not based on complete reality, and it is perfectly possible for people to enjoy success and not fall into the trap of addiction. There are also plenty of examples of addicts who managed to enter recovery and then went on to find real success in life. It is true that most of these people had some success to begin with but in many cases the height of their fame came after they became sober.
Stephen King is one of the best known and most successful writers of all time. His stories focus on the darker side of life, and in the early part of his career it is likely that these tales were inspired by his own demons. In his book The Shinning he writes about an alcoholic writer who is losing his mind, but few of his fans at the time would have believed that much of content was coming from King’s own experience with battling an addiction. He was such a mess that he can’t even remember writing some of his famous books from that period. King managed to get sober in the late 1980s and has since gone on to write some of his best work including; The Green Mile, Dreamcatcher, Hearts in Atlantis, and the Dark Tower series of books. In the early days of his sobriety he worried that lack of mind altering chemicals would interfere with his talent, but this turned out to be completely false.
Sir Anthony Hopkins is probably best known for his convincing portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in the psychological thriller Silence of the Lambs. While Hopkins never became as demented as this terrifying psychopath in real life he does admit to having a serious alcohol problem for many years. In 1975 he managed to stop drinking with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. Since becoming sober he has managed to achieve a great deal of success and has become a household name.
Court McGee is a truly inspirational ex-addict. He had a serious drug and alcohol problem during his early adulthood and on one occasion even ended up clinically dead due to an overdose. McGee’s health was so impacted by this overdose that he had to learn how to walk and speak again. He managed to give up his addictions completely in 2006 and put all his energies into martial arts. In 2010 he became a household name when he entered The Ultimate Fighter reality show and went on to win the event. He proved to the world that even those people who mess up early in life can clean up their act and still achieve amazing things.
Betty Ford was the first lady of the United States between 1974 and 1977. She was much admired in her role as a political advocate for social reform, but what the public never saw was her growing dependence on alcohol and drugs. In 1978 her family and friends intervened and convinced her to get help. She devoted a great deal of the rest of her life to helping addicts. In 1982 she opened the Betty Ford Clinic to help those in need. Betty Ford went on to live to a grand old age of 93, and her good works are sure to outlive her by many years.
Craig Ferguson was born in Glasgow Scotland but has lived in the United States for many years. He is best known as the host on the CBS The Late Late Show. He had serious problems with alcohol up until his late twenties and at one point almost committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. Ferguson sobered up in 1992 and has managed to become one of the most successful chat show hosts in the world.
In the early days of his drinking rock legend Eric Clapton found that it gave him confidence and lowered his inhibitions. As the years went by he found that these benefits came with a heavy price. He fell into alcoholism and his life began to fall apart. The lowest point probably came when he gave a drunken racist speech at one of his concerts in 1976. Clapton managed to give up his addiction in 1987, and continues to make music.
Elton John is another UK rock legend who battled hard against addiction for much of his early career. The lowest point probably came in 1975 when he suffered a drug overdose that almost killed him. In 1990 the musician had reached his rock bottom and entered rehab. He managed to have plenty more hit records after sobering up including Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me and Are You Ready For Love.
One of the most dangerous myths that people buy into is the claim that substance abuse increases creativity. It is understandable why people fall for this myth because it does seem that many creative types are also heavy users of alcohol and drugs. What people fail to realize is that these people were creative despite their substance abuse and not because of it. A classic example of this would be the famous American painter Jackson Pollock. He does seem to fit the stereotype of the addict genius but a closer look shows that this is not really the case. In fact Pollock created all of his most successful art during a two year period when he managed to get sober.
It is not necessary for people to become a household name in order for them to be considered a success in recovery. Some individuals do manage to find fame and fortune in sobriety, but this is not necessary. Becoming a good parent or a respectable member of the community is enough success for most people – especially when they consider how far they have come. It is important to achieve things in recovery because it makes this new life all the more worthwhile – the more enjoyable the sober life is the more willing people will be to fight for it. There are also dangers associated with success if the individual puts achieving things ahead of their sobriety. In order to achieve things in recovery it is suggested that people:
* Set themselves goals and work towards these. These goals should be high but also realistic, and they need to be things that the individual really wants.
* Failure is part of the road to success – it is how the individual develops the tools they need for later in the path. The only real failures in life are those who give up trying.
* It is best to break larger goals into smaller ones because if the task appears too immense the individual may feel overwhelmed. By breaking the goal into smaller tasks the individual will be able to slowly but surely move towards their dream.
* If people expect quick results and look for shortcuts they are likely to end up disappointed. If success was easy to achieve then everyone would experience it all the time – it is the hard work and effort that makes it worth aiming for.
* Most of the pleasure in life comes during the journey towards the goal and not upon achieving the goal itself. It is strongly recommended that people learn to appreciate the path and not just the destination.
* The individual needs to keep in mind that they do not need to prove anything to themselves or other people. They are already a success by escaping their addiction and everything else is icing on the cake.
* Reading about or spending time with inspirational people can be highly beneficial. Success can be contagious if the individual spends enough time around the right people.
* Staying sober is the number one priority for people in recovery – there can be no success with this. The individual should never do anything that might put this in danger.