“One day in March of 2015, I was drenched in a pool of my own sweat withdrawing from opioids. The last 20 or so years of my life had finally caught up to me”.

Aaron Barnes


Men are more likely than women to abuse drugs and alcohol. In fact, of the 47,600 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2017, two-thirds were among men. This disparity is also true for alcohol and other drugs. For example, men are more likely to drink excessively, which is associated with higher rates of alcohol-related deaths, hospitalizations, and risky behavior, such as drinking and driving. For other drugs, such as marijuana, use in males is higher, as is the prevalence of cannabis use disorder. Trauma is one of the primary factors that lead men to substance use disorders. Although trauma affects both men and women alike, studies have shown that adverse childhood experiences in men have a strong correlation with the development of substance use disorders.  


Other exact reasons are unknown as to why men are more prone to substance use disorder compared to women. Many believe that men place more pressure on themselves to perform well in society, to be viewed as fierce and powerful, and to be the strong pillar for their families. 


Male celebrities are no different. Alcohol and substance use disorders do not discriminate among wealth, class, ethnicity, or background. The stigma surrounding mental health and addiction is decreasing as more male celebrities, and public figures use their platform to tell their personal stories. These real-life accounts from successful and inspiring individuals are proof that addiction can affect anyone regardless of how much money you have or successful you are. Substance use disorders are not signs of weakness; those who tell their stories, especially when living in the spotlight, are stronger than ever. It is essential to show our gratitude and respect to these male celebrities who have come forward to share their deepest darkest stories with the world. They emulate more strength than they realize. 


Ben Affleck: The famous Academy Award-winning actor and director sought treatment twice for an alcohol use disorder that nearly destroyed his life and ruined his marriage. He sought treatment multiple times for his alcohol use disorder in 2001, 2017, and again in 2018. Although he struggled, fought, and relapsed, he is now working harder than ever to make a healthy and robust comeback. “It’s not particularly healthy for me to obsess over the failures, the relapses, and beat myself up. I have certainly made mistakes. I have certainly done things that I regret. But you’ve got to pick yourself up, learn from it, learn some more, try to move forward.”

Robert Downey Jr.: Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr. is the highest-paid actor in Hollywood and appears he is living on cloud nine. However, his journey was not always smooth as we struggled fiercely with alcohol, cocaine, and heroin. He was even arrested after racing his car while intoxicated down Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. He was able to find strength in his recovery and resurrect his acting career while being able to use his platform to educate others about the depths of addiction. 

Zac Efron: Zac Efron became intertwined with drugs and alcohol at a young age when he was acting for the Disney Channel. In 2013, he was arrested for getting into a bar fight and then entered treatment twice for cocaine use disorder. He was successful in treatment and recovery and has since made a successful comeback in the film industry.  

Johnny Depp: Famous for his major roles in such big franchises as Pirates of the Caribbean and Tim Burton’s new Alice in Wonderland films, Johnny Depp struggled with drugs and alcohol for nearly 40 years and has sought treatment time and time again. His past is overcome with trauma since early childhood, and as a result, Depp has used drugs and alcohol and means to escape reality. He is currently in recovery, and it is unknown whether or not he has stayed true to his sobriety, but he is still sharing his journey and truth with the public in the hope of shedding light on this epidemic. 

“I don’t have the physical need for the drug alcohol. No, it’s more my medication, my self-medication over the years just to calm the circus, once the circus kicks in, the festivities in the brain, it can be ruthless”

Ernest Hemingway: One of the most famous writers of the twentieth century, Ernest Hemingway, experienced multiple episodes of severe anxiety and depression, which eventually contributed to his development of alcohol use disorder. Recent studies reveal Hemingway’s heavy drinking habits may have exacerbated his traumatic brain injuries, deteriorating the writer’s grip on sound decision-making until his death. In 1961, Hemingway shot and killed himself in Idaho.

Elton John: the famous British musician, struggled with cocaine and alcohol use disorders since the 1970’s. In his recent book, he explains how cocaine helped him overcome his shyness. In reality, it was a temporary Band-Aid that covered up his childhood trauma and pain and further led him to social isolation and loneliness. However, one of his most significant accomplishments was his decision to enter treatment for addiction. He then went on to found the Elton John AIDS Foundation. 


ARC is a full-service addiction treatment center located in the Los Angeles area that has remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. ARC fully supports individuals of all genders, sexual orientations, and ethnicities and takes pride in providing the best-tailored care to all community members. The treatment staff at ARC ensures that your detox, treatment, and recovery are tailored to your individual needs. Our goal is to provide individualized treatment in a safe and secure environment in hopes that you can live a happier, healthier, and prosperous future.


Kristen Fuller, M.D., is a clinical content writer and enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the cutting-edge world of mental health and addiction medicine. She is a family medicine physician and author, who also teaches and contributes to medicine board education. Her passion lies within educating the public on preventable diseases, including mental health disorders and the stigma associated with them. She is also an outdoor activist and spends most of her free time empowering other women to get outside into the backcountry.