Colin Farrell has been sober since 2006 and i was surprised to see he and i have something in common other than our devilishly good looks and top model sex life. We were both binge drinkers and both love sobriety unabashedly.
Note: i have not censored his responses and he loves using the ‘F’ word, so if this offends you, you may want to move on.
What It Was Like
I had a predisposition for certain addictions. I was addicted to Rice Krispies when I was seven. And I’m not even fucking joking with you. Ask my mother.
It was already in me. My family were trying to get me into rehab. And I’d get angry with them and say, “Go get the men in the white coats and see if I don’t stab ’em to death.”
Desperation will allow you to do incredible things in the name of survival…I had created an environment for myself, a way of living for myself which, on the outside, seemed incredibly gregarious and vivacious.
When I had James [his son], I made a decision not to change. I literally said, “I’m not changing! I’m gonna be his friend!” Like a fucking 28-year-old drug-addicted drunk friend is exactly what my 6-week-old son needs.
I used to go bananas for five months then take the foot off the gas for two months and clean up a bit. I was sad. I was drinking loads. When I ever drank with my mates, we’d go to a pub on Wednesday night and have six pints, everyone would go home. I’d get a bag of powder, four joints and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and drank until five in the morning.
I could easily go through a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label. I always had a massive constitution. It’s a genetic thing. I could polish off two, but then I’d be in bad shape. I loved it a lot of the time, but in the end it proved to be a charade and a delusion. I always ended up facing loneliness again. And therein is my life.
I don’t believe I have any chemical predisposition towards depression, but let’s just call it…I was suffering from a spiritual malady for years and I indulged it. You can feel very alive when you’re in pain.
I gravitated to the romantic notion that if one was pursuing the endeavour of art, one couldn’t do anything better than create a world of darkness and shadow. A bit of pain.
I wouldn’t have been able to maintain my life. The inside of rehab was a must-see for me at that stage. I was in a bad place. I’m sure I was becoming somewhat unhireable.
Obviously I’m not a doctor but you don’t have to have a degree in medicine to know when your body’s shutting down. I genuinely didn’t think I had much longer. I’d reached the point where the only voices that had any clarity in the room were the voices of destruction and obliteration.
I’d begun to feel my body break down and weaken in a fairly aggressive way. I felt ill all over. I’d stay in bed for two days at a time; I was really pushing it. It was a very profound chapter in my life, a very aggressive one, and it’s one I’ve now put behind me.
The last year I was drinking, a lot of people turned up in my life who’d gone through rehab. They exposed me to an alternative way of living just before I was ready to engage in it myself. Also, we’d just celebrated my son Jimmy’s second birthday, and I think I just decided to live.
For the first time ever, I lost the ability to be confident that I could make a change myself. I knew I was fucked.
It was great fun – until it stopped being fun. The simplest way to put it is that I started drinking on my own aged 14, then there were several years when I was drinking with a load of people, and at the end I was in a hotel room drinking on my own.
I was terrified [of being sober] because, I’m not saying I was a great actor before or a great actor since, but I was terrified that whatever my capacity was as an actor beforehand, however little or large — it would completely disappear.
For people who drink too much, the problem isn’t really about booze. It’s about an inability to deal with life. I don’t want to get into an armchair analysis, but what giving up booze does is allow you to look at yourself through an untainted mirror for the first time.
I [subscribed] to the notion that to be able to express yourself in an artistic form in life, you have to live in perpetual pain, and it’s nonsense. There’s enough pain in the world.
[I had] a good old session in rehab. A few tears and a couple of hugs with strangers.
What It’s Like Now
When I got sober, it was the right time for me to get sober. I could have done it earlier, for sure, and I would have saved a lot of money and a good deal of heartbreak, but I’m lucky enough to have made it anyway and I’m grateful for that. So better late than ever.
Quitting booze was hard initially. Drinking was all I had known in my adult life. One day you’re living a certain way and then suddenly the next day that whole system you’ve built around yourself is completely gone. But it gets easier over time; you get used to not having that crutch.
All the madness and all the chaos and all the people around me got so tiring after a while that I had to find another way, and while I don’t live a monk-like existence, I have a new appreciation for solitude that would have terrified me years ago. And I’m glad the madness is over. It was interesting to experience, but I’m glad it’s passed.
Honestly, I’ve got eight hours a day now that I didn’t have before, when I was drinking every day for 18 years.
I remember being asked by somebody in America, “Do you think it’s harder for celebrities to get sober than normal people?” And I was just like, are you joking? I didn’t come out unemployed, hadn’t lost my family, my home, had all my teeth in my head. Could I have had it any easier?
I don’t take it for granted and I don’t undermine how difficult my journey to getting sober was, but now I’m in a really different life and I don’t miss it. I’m very lucky in that respect because I know people who have had a longer period of sobriety than me and they still miss it every day and it’s a struggle for them.
Seven years sober. I’m really grateful. It’s really lovely to be present in my life.
Anytime I have a shit mood, now it’s some aspect of me that is present and is feeling whatever I’m feeling, and the same counts if I’m giddy or jocular. It’s honest, it’s real. That’s quite simply the coolest thing. Everything is real now.
When I was living a different way, I was probably profoundly bored. I had moments of elation. Now I never get fucking bored. I get excited about room service menus! I really do. Even though the french fries are soggy as fuckk and I still haven’t figured out an exact way to open up that Heinz mini jar — sometimes it’s my nails, sometimes it’s my teeth. I’m just grateful that I’m actually alive, to be honest.
I’ve never seen a moon in the sky that, if it didn’t take my breath away, at least misplaced it for a moment.
i think it’s cute how, at 0:18 into the video, he says “I went to AA” then changes it to “somewhere” for anonymity’s sake.
Sources for the quotes:
- The Telegraph
- The Telegraph (a different interview)
- OK Magazine
- Celebrity Yahoo
- E Online
- Daily Mail
- Irish Mirror
- Contact Music
Country music musician Keith Urban and i have one thing in common: we both think Nicole Kidman is hot. Other than that, our taste in music and approaches to sobriety are pretty divergent. While his sobriety is linked very closely to his wife (after 4 months of marriage to Kidman, Urban relapsed in alcoholism and checked himself into rehab–some say at her insistence), i tend to think you have to be sober for yourself first. Here, then, are some alternate takes on sobriety, because there’s no right and wrong when it comes to recovery, as long as it works.
What it was like
[After I first got to Nashville in 1992] it was how I dealt with a lot of loneliness. I wasn’t used to rejection. I wasn’t used to loneliness. It just seemed like nothing [my band and I] did was connecting or happening and it was very frustrating.
It [alcohol] was my diversion, my way of numbing myself to the rejection and the loneliness and the confusion.
The truth is that I wasn’t even aware of where it was at in my life and how it was just going to come down and take me down like it did. I was probably in such a state of denial that I consciously wasn’t aware of it.
I was going to lose it all. It was like, “If I don’t choose this moment to do the right thing and do something that’s going to give me life, all of the things I’m scared of losing, I’m going to lose anyway.”
I deeply regret the hurt this has caused Nicole and the ones who love and support me. One can never let one’s guard down on recovery, and I’m afraid that I have. [From his official statement upon entering rehab after 4 months of marriage.]
I had to make a decision which road I was going to take, once and for all. I’d been at that crossroads before and always taken the wrong road.
Life’s about crossroads. You can choose life or you can go the other way…. It’s not a matter of all the intricate stuff in between. It’s just life or no life.
I knew very well right then that this is actually going to be the best, strongest road to get me back to the two things I love, which are my home life and my career, and finding the balance in those two. I need them both.
What it’s like now
[On life post rehab:] Definitely some adjustment. I don’t remember exactly the feeling of it other than, just, it was just a bit unfamiliar at first, and then it came back really fast. Because there’s such a gratitude to be doing this again…. Music is just the great savior for me. The road for any artist can be a place where they run away and hide. Or where they can work through their issues. For me, it’s an opportunity to express things that I just don’t know how else to express.
Sources for the quotes:
i knew Kristin Davis from “Sex in the City”, that one show i never watched unless the girl i was with wanted to. i didn’t know, until recently, that Kristin Davis was sober.
What makes her story interesting compared to many other people, was that she had a ‘high bottom‘. She stopped drinking at 22 because she knew she had a drinking problem and saved herself the trouble of screwing herself over repeatedly (like i did!). Here are some directions from a lovely woman who may have a different path than mine, but is on the same journey.
What it was like
To the outside world, I was a good girl. But I drank a lot, which was rebellious because my parents didn’t drink at all. In the South, pretty much everybody drinks. There was always lots of alcohol, lots of access to alcohol, people sitting around every night with a Mint Julep, or whatever.
Alcoholism is a genetically predisposed disease and it does run in my family. I also think I felt like a misfit. I was in the South, everybody was blonde. I just didn’t feel like I fitted in. It was sort of my way of fitting.
Alcohol freed me. I was really shy and I didn’t know how to come out of my shell. I drank for the same reason I loved acting. I wanted to feel things and express myself and be free. And I’m not naturally that way.
At high school, it was just crazy. We’d all be behind the gym drinking, about 20 people passing around bourbon or whatever.
I could often be found getting pissed on bourbon behind the school gym with boys.
I’m shy and it helped me overcome that. After a while I just got used to being drunk.
It was a problem waiting to happen as far as I was concerned.
This is going to sound strange, but I really didn’t think I would pass 30. I drank a lot when I was a teenager and I don’t drink any more, because that’s when I thought, you know, I’m gonna end up a car wreck. I just had a fatalistic view of the whole situation at that point.
I consider myself to be an alcoholic. My drinking became a very real addiction that needed to be dealt with.
My twenties were the worst time of my life. There is nothing on the planet that would make me go back there. I was trying to stop drinking, not an easy thing to do.
What made me stop? I realized it was not going to end well.
Oh, nothing that bad [happened]. I just realized that drinking was counterproductive to what I was trying to do. Acting is very difficult in weird ways. You’d have to get to class by 8am, work all day, rehearse all night, and it’s not really good to do when you’re hung over.
I’d wanted to be an actress my whole life, that was my goal, that was all I cared about. Something had to go, so I chose drinking to go.
What it’s like now
I believe [alcoholism] is a disease. I don’t think you can mess with it. There was a time when people who didn’t know me well would say, “Couldn’t you just have one glass of champagne?” And I would say, “No.”
It [My sobriety] has caused a lot of confusion out in the world. I get sent many a Cosmo! I never drink them.
Sometimes it would be nice to just have some red wine with dinner, but it’s not worth the risk. I have a great life, a great situation. Why would I want to risk self-destructive behavior?
Nowadays I would say chocolate and coffee has taken over. Lattes. It’s funny because I find myself thinking, ‘I’ve got to have a latte.’ I have a limit of two.
Here’s Kristin discussing sobriety with Craig Ferguson, who is also sober (in 2008).
Sources for the quotes:
Earlier i mentioned how Daniel Radcliffe got recovery advice from Gary Oldman. But who did Goldman get advice from? Sir Anthony Hopkins. So, in keeping with my “6 Degrees of Celebriety” theme, here’s a post about Tony Hopkins.
Anthony Hopkins had his last drink on Monday, December 29, 1975. His second wife (Jenni Lynton) left him on Christmas and returned to England. He hit the bottle hard as soon as she was gone, only to call her drunk and sobbing while she told him he needed to get help. Then, when he drank so much at a party that he blacked out, a Hollywood agent gave Hopkins a card for Alcoholics Anonymous. He had a last drink the following Monday morning, called AA, and has been sober since.
What it was like
I wasn’t popular as a child. I never played with any of the other kids, and I didn’t have any friends. I wanted to be left alone all through my school years. I’ve felt like an outsider all my life.
I hated the Sixties. For most of it I was drinking myself into oblivion. I was in a coma for most of it, so I missed the whole decade, including the Beatles, completely. I would drink about eight pints a night – I remember being in Liverpool on those drizzly evenings in the pub, getting the last drop in.
I had some bizarre nights with Peter when we made The Lion In Winter, but to be honest I don’t remember them. He enjoyed his drink – and I did, too. We weren’t close friends or anything but we got drunk very quickly and there was always amusement and laughter. I love drunks; they are terrific – except when they throw up on you.
I would show up on movie sets after drinking and not sleeping. I made a terrible film called The Looking Glass War in 1968. I had a scene with Ralph Richardson in the back of a car that I don’t even remember doing because I was so drunk.
I was in a bit of trouble, becoming awkward to work with. [Sir Laurent] Olivier recommended I go see a psychiatrist friend of his. I did for one session. He said my behavior was due to “creative exhaustion,” or some crap like that. The problem was, I was drinking too much! So that was the end of my psychiatric therapy.
It was like being possessed by a demon, an addiction, and I couldn’t stop. And millions of people around like that. I could not stop.
Her actions [Jenni Lynton, his second wife, left him] saved my life. Suddenly, I realised she wasn’t going to help me anymore. She’d tolerated me longer than most. Other people simply wouldn’t put up with my crap. I was a real loner. I threw friends away through hostility.
I drank a lot, but I wouldn’t have missed it. I look back on it as sort of dreary enjoyment, because I don’t have to be there anymore.
When you look at what a poor, tired mess John Barrymore was at the end of his life, and what a catastrophe that was, it’s just so sad. To go insane and either drink yourself to death, or blow your brains out, like Hemingway, it’s very sad. Let’s just say I don’t recommend it.
What made me stop drinking was not remembering where I’d been the night before.
One day I just thought, “I’ve had enough of this.” It was simple. I didn’t want to go on feeling bad.
For me, giving it up was finding the airlock, the escape hatch. It all happened one Monday morning in 1975. It was as if a voice said, “Ready! Go!” It was that clear, the voice of gold. The best part of myself, my subconscious, came to rescue me.
And then that Monday: Boom. And it was over. It was like a great pilot light was lit. No explanation except, I guess, I was open, willing and ready.
As God as my witness, an enormous powerful voice came into my mind. It said, “It’s all over now, you can start living. What’s happened has been for a purpose, don’t forget a moment of it.” Suddenly the craving to drink was taken from me.
I don’t know how. I had no religious connection or a connection to what I thought was God. When I look back I think I was so lucky to get out of that one.
I was hell bent on destruction. And I just asked for a little bit of help, and suddenly, pow.
But I now realise I am the problem with my life. I am the killer of myself, I am a self destructive force.
My only demon that I had was that I drank too much. I was very insecure and frightened, but I wouldn’t have missed it because I have no choice! It happened. I look back on it as a valuable time in my life. Alcohol gave me a great amount of courage and energy and anger, all things I never would have had the nerve to do. So I’m very grateful to that period in my life, which launched me, in a way. But finally, that kind of fuel rips you to pieces, so I said “enough of this.” But now I feel relatively peaceful, relatively happy.
I’m glad I’m an alcoholic…Obviously, I’m sorry for the hurt I caused people – but being an alcoholic was an amazing and powerful experience. God, how I loved tequila, such wonderful stuff. It used to give me strange hallucinations and occasionally it would provide strange spiritual awakenings, which is ridiculous for an atheist like me. There were some days when I’d drink a bottle of tequila and I didn’t care if I died. I was so washed up, so empty. [Shared as feature speaker during an AA conference]
Yes, I really am glad I’m an alcoholic. I’m not trying to be cool. It may not feel like it at times, but we are rich people. The scar tissue I have built up over the years is now my strength and power.
I have wasted too many years being angry, resentful and hostile. Now I realise I don’t want this anymore. I need to be a productive member of AA and give something back.
My philosophy is: It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.
Ah, the addiction to chaos! The addiction to drama! Never. I never want to go back to that life again.
I don’t feel that awful kind of angst – like I was on the wrong planet – that I felt for years. I feel now I belong somewhere. I belong in my own skin.
I don’t miss drinking, not at all. I don’t want to ever go back there. Now I just love English tea and digestive biscuits or Hobnobs.
Sources for the quotes:
- The Daily Mail
- The Guardian
- The Telegraph
- Anthony Hopkins Movies
- Christian Post
- The Free Library
- The Hollywood Interview
In my Celebriety post about Daniel Radcliffe, I referenced a conversation Radcliffe had with his Harry Potter costar Gary Oldman about drinking too much. As Gary Oldman has gone from getting arrested for drunk driving with Keifer Sutherland to getting sober in 1995 and going so far as to meet his (now ex) wife in Alcoholics Anonymous, it seemed appropriate to do a six degrees of sobriety exposé on him.
Why He Drank
Harry Potter put me around people like the actor Richard Harris and I heard all their amazing stories about their drunken nights. That was what I was desperately trying to pursue.
There were a few years there when I was just so enamoured with the idea of living some sort of famous person’s lifestyle that really isn’t suited to me.
Interviewer: You’re only 22. Don’t most people in their early twenties drink too much?
Daniel Radcliffe: Unfortunately it’s not that simple. I have a very addictive personality. It was a problem.
Last year, news that Bradley Cooper is a recovering alcoholic hit the stands in The Hollywood Reporter and took many people by surprise. It’s not difficult to see why, as the references to his being sober since 2004 are hard to find before the THR interview.
Here’s what i was able to scrape together.
I was so concerned what you thought of me, how I was coming across, how I would survive the day. I always felt like an outsider. I just lived in my head.
His Downward Spiral
Part of me believed [my friends’ warnings], and part of me didn’t. But the proof was in the pudding: I’d always gotten up at the crack of dawn, and that was out the window. I remember looking at my life, my apartment, my dogs, and I thought, ‘What’s happening?’
I was at a Christmas party, dancing to Marilyn Manson’s ‘The Beautiful People,’ and thought it’d be a cool idea to show how I’m able to bash my head against the concrete floor. I did it, came up, blood went down my face, I laughed, and did it again. Yeah, I had a couple of drinks in me, for sure.
I deliberately bashed my head on the concrete floor — like, ‘Hey, look how tough I am!’ I spent the night at St. Vincent’s Hospital with a sock of ice, waiting for them to stitch me up.
I realized I wasn’t going to live up to my potential, and that scared the hell out of me. I thought, ‘Wow, I’m actually gonna ruin my life; I’m really gonna ruin it.’
I haven’t had a drink in five years [a 2009 interview]. And I loved to drink. But then I had to give it up, goddamn it. I mean, unfortunately, those days are over.
I don’t drink or do drugs at all anymore. Being sober helps a great deal.
[This rare exchange is from a pre-2012 interview]
Do you take Advil?
I don’t take anything. Can you believe that?
What happens if you get a headache?
I drink a lot of water.
What about alcohol?
And they cast you in The Hangover?
Uh-huh [laughs]. I didn’t say I’ve never done that, but I don’t do that now. Fortunately, my life is much better without it.
Sources for the quotes:
Thanks to Mrs D who requested a Celebriety about Coop!
You know me, there’s a lot of stuff i don’t know. Like i always thought Robin Williams was a cokehead but i did not know he was also an alcoholic. i also didn’t know he went into recovery for both in 1983, when his first child was born. And who knew he stayed sober for 20 years? Not i, said the blind man.
i also didn’t know he serves as a cautionary tale, because even after 20 years sober, he relapsed in 2003 while making a movie (Big White) in Alaska.
I was in a small town where it’s not the edge of the world, but you can see it from there, and then I thought: drinking. I just thought, hey, maybe drinking will help. Because I felt alone and afraid. It’s just literally being afraid. And you think, oh, this will ease the fear. And it doesn’t.
One day I walked into a store and saw a little bottle of Jack Daniel’s. And then that voice—I call it the ‘lower power’—goes, ‘Hey. Just a taste. Just one.’ I drank it, and there was that brief moment of ‘Oh, I’m okay!’ But it escalated so quickly. Within a week I was buying so many bottles I sounded like a wind chime walking down the street. I knew it was really bad one Thanksgiving when I was so drunk they had to take me upstairs.
It’s [addiction] — not caused by anything, it’s just there. It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK. Then you realize, ‘Where am I? I didn’t realize I was in Cleveland.’
On Staying Out of Recovery
After his relapse, Williams remained active in his alcoholism for 3 years.
You feel warm and kind of wonderful. And then the next thing you know, it’s a problem, and you’re isolated.
It’s the same voice thought that … you’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, ‘Jump.’ The same voice that goes, ‘Just one.’ … And the idea of just one for someone who has no tolerance for it, that’s not the possibility.
For that first week you lie to yourself, and tell yourself you can stop, and then your body kicks back and says, no, stop later. And then it took about three years, and finally you do stop.
On Fixing Yourself
You can’t. That’s the bottom line. You really think you can, then you realize, ‘I need help,’ and that’s the word.
On His Weekly AA Meetings
Have to. It’s good to go.
Sources for the quotes:
The latest celebrity i didn’t know had troubles with alcohol is Lana del Rey.
That’s really why I got sent to boarding school aged 14 — to get sober.
I was a big drinker at the time. I would drink every day. I would drink alone. I thought the whole concept was so fucking cool.
My parents were worried, I was worried. I knew it was a problem when I liked it more than I liked doing anything else. I was like, I’m fucked. I am totally fucked. Like, at first it’s fine and you think you have a dark side – it’s exciting – and then you realize the dark side wins every time if you decide to indulge in it.
A great deal of what I wrote on Born To Die is about these wilderness years.
It’s been nine years since my last drink.
I feel like my work’s important, but I don’t always feel like I get respect for it…when I feel like people don’t like [my] music and that the 10 years I spent making what I made was not for a good reason, that makes me want to drink again.
A lot of the time when I write about the person that I love, I feel like I’m writing about New York. And when I write about the thing that I’ve lost I feel like I’m writing about alcohol because that was the first love of my life. Sure, there have been people, but it’s really alcohol.
And when I write about the thing that I’ve lost I feel like I’m writing about alcohol because that was the first love of my life.
Sorces for the quotes:
Craig Ferguson made this stunning announcement in 2007.
Someone else i didn’t know was in recovery. Did you catch his plug for AA at the end?
i’ve decided to add a new category to this blog dedicated to well known people who are sober. i’m not trying to “out” anyone, and will only be talking about celebrities who are open about their recovery. The purpose is to demonstrate that famous people are sober, too, just like me and you.