7 Highly Successful People that Battled Alcoholism

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/ published 2 years ago

7 Highly Successful People that Battled Alcoholism

It is widely described that alcohol can cause problems in your normal functioning. And while alcohol is a recipe for disaster, for some people, it was part of their success

Alcoholism is the most serious form of problem drinking. Described as strong, and often uncontrollable desire to drink, sufferers often place drinking above all other obligations. That can sometimes fall onto family and work. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 80% of adults have tried alcohol at some point in their lifetime. It is widely described that alcohol can cause problems in your normal functioning. And while alcohol is a recipe for disaster, for some people, it was part of their success. We are not proposing you start drinking, but this is a list of seven highly successful people who had troubles with alcohol.

Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh’s relationship with alcohol is widely known. It was so strong, that nowadays, there are even liquors that bear his name. For example, you can find Van Gogh vodka. He drank alcohol to excess, most specifically, the “the green fairy”, also known as absinthe.

He was so obsessed with absinthe, he even included in his paintings. During his most productive years, he only ate bread, drank coffee and alcohol, and smoke cigarettes. Imagine a diet consisting of alcohol as the main source.


There are studies and researches how alcohol was responsible for his mental decline. And eventually, it led to his removal of his ear in 1888 and his suicide two years later. Despite his alcohol problem Van Gogh was incredibly prolific, producing more than 2100 pieces of art in his lifetime.

Stephen King

Stephen King admitted himself in his autobiography that he battled with alcohol. Throughout his journey to fame and during his career, he always battle with alcohol, but also drug addiction. In his autobiography, he revealed that during the 1980s, he was binging on drugs and alcohol.

And he admitted that “he barely remembers writing”. And even in such state, he wrote the novel Cujo in 1981. He won numerous awards for that book, and it was turned into a movie in 1983.

In his lifetime, he has published more than 60 books and 200 short stories.

Buzz Aldrin

The famous astronaut is also a perfect example of how people can easily be driven into alcoholism, but also recover from it. Aldrin was the second person to walk on the moon back in 1969. Before he even walked on the moon, he had a cult hero status in US, thanks to his part in the Gemini 12 mission. His sudden rise to fame, combined with family history of depression and suicide, contributed to his mother ending her own life in 1968.

After her death, he feared he might be genetically predisposed to depression and suicide, and started drinking heavily.

But he managed to recover from it, and few years ago celebrated 37 years of sobriety. Alcohol, and the weight of depression has caused his marriage to fell apart. But he is now sober and has a clear mind.

Leonard Nimoy

Another actor that was victim of his own fame. Nimoy is known for his iconic role as Mr. Spock on Star Trek. The success of the franchise was too much for him. Fame and success put too much weight on him, and he started drinking. As his partner on Star Trek William Shatner says, “Nimoy drank to numb the sheer disappointment of stardom”.

Nimoy himself revealed that the success spiraled into a ritual of drinking wine, beer, or other spirits. He drank every day at the end of shooting. And eventually, he started sneaking drinks on the set, disguised as water in a paper cup.

The good news is that later on he checked into a rehab facility, where he got clean.

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway once famously said that “a man does not exist until he is drunk”. He also said that “wine is a grand thing, and makes you forget all the bad thing”. Hemingway loved dry martini, but he drank everything he could get his hands on.


Notoriously fond of drinking, he refrained from alcohol while writing. He was asked is it true that he takes a pitcher of martinis to work every morning, and he replied “Jesus Christ!”

That being said, Hemingway is one of the most famous drinkers. He published many works that are considered classics nowadays. Ernest started drinking to kill the pain. He was injured during World War II, and drank heavily to escape the pain.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth lived during an era when movie stars were hard-smoking, hard-drinking, and more. She battled with alcohol for more than 30 years. She spent most of her career addicted to alcohol and painkillers.

But Elizabeth was also the first celebrity to openly admit herself to rehab. She did it at the Betty Ford Center in 1983.

Betty Ford

The former First Lady and wife to President Gerald Ford is still one of the most important women in history. She was an outspoken proponent of the feminist movement. She had higher approval ratings than her husband.


But all along, she battled with alcohol addiction and painkillers. In 1978, she had an intervention, and she went into treatment. Four years later, she went on to establish the Betty Ford Center, a non-profit and separately licensed residential treatment center for persons with substance dependence.


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