PJ Haarsma
March 6, 2020

Has Anyone Become Successful After Recovering From Drug Abuse?

Addiction is a scary thing – no doubt. Parents fret over it, schools try to prevent it, politicians politicize it (that’s another discussion), but everyone is afraid of it. Let’s face it - addiction comes with a label and that label is hard to get out from under. Some would say almost as hard to beat as the disease itself. The label of addiction immediately comes with a sense of hopelessness.

“Your life is over!”

“You’ll never amount to anything!”

“You’ve ruined everything!”

But people have come back from the disease of addiction. Not only have they returned from the abyss, but they have flourished. You must believe that addiction is completely treatable using effective and consistent care.


The following are examples of individuals, both entrepreneurs, and celebrities, who have succeeded after their addiction.

The Entrepreneurs Who Have Become Successful After Recovering From Drug Abuse:

There is something about recovery that begins to unlock the creative within an individual and reignites their desire to thrive. Many individuals have even started businesses while in rehab.

Akshay Nanavati battled with heroin and alcohol. At one point it was so bad Akshay considered taking his own life. Yet this Marine Corp veteran beat his demons and is now sober. His company, existing2living, is thriving and often featured in top news portals like Forbes, USA Today, and CNN.

Julio Briones addiction to alcohol landed him in prison for a 10-year sentence. During his two-year stay at a rehab facility, he was able to get clean and focus on his family and what is important to him. Julio now owns AnswerMan Specialty Services, which consults for prisons and provides personal crisis management solutions.

Blake Denman believes that starting his business was the second toughest thing he has ever done besides getting sober, but he used what he learned in recovery to find success with his company,  Ricketyroo, a digital marketing company who’s entire team is in addiction recovery. Blake believes, “There's no doubt that if recovery wasn't my foundation then my business would not be where it is today.”


Many young entrepreneurs have used drug rehabilitation as a spring board to their ultimate financial success.

Jessica Mehta experienced success after winning not one, but two national bronze awards for Startup of the Year in 2015. Her SEO writing services company, MehtaFor is a small but thriving company and she believes that the same attributes that fed her eating disorder also helped fuel her ambition.

Per Wickstrom is the president and founder of Best Drug Rehabilitation. His rehabilitation center focuses on helping people beat their addiction using holistic and natural methods. Wickstrom says he turned to alcohol at a young age, instead of facing his problems head-on. Alcohol led to drugs and they became his solution to escape life’s problems, a path so many follow on their way to addiction. After rehab saved his life, he turned to a higher calling and opened his own treatment facility which has saved more than 6,000 people to date.

Celebrities Whose Careers Flourished After Overcoming An Addiction:


It seems that celebrities and addiction often go hand-in-hand, or at least the media makes it seem that way. The brutal pressure to be perfect, to succeed, to battle criticism, is often too much for some, and alcohol or drugs are an easy method to silence the voices that rage all around them. Although we have read many stories of talented celebrities who took their addiction to its fatal end, many have beat their drug of choice and have soared to new heights within their career.

Keith Urban – Sober since 2006

The country music superstar who is married to movie legend Nicole Kidman, now has 18 #1 hits and 3 Grammys, but in 1998 he first checked himself into a Nashville drug treatment program. His struggle to make a name for himself after winning Star Maker in 1990 took a toll on his psyche. Urban drowned out the voices by using cocaine and alcohol.

“The whole back end of the 90’s were just awful,” Urban admits.


Photo by: J-smith.17 at English Wikipedia. Under CC License

After getting clean, his career began to gain steam, capping it with a #1 hit, Be Here, in 2004. Keith met Kidman a year later. But Urban admits, he let his guard down and ultimately checked into a rehab facility again in 2006. This was only a few months after his marriage to Kidman. Once he was clean again, he got back to work a released a rash of hits, winning Entertainer of the Year in 2011 from the Academy of Country Music. He is now 14 years sober and credits his wife, Nicole who staged an intervention to get him sober.

Zac Efron – Sober since 2013

Now 33, this handsome actor has been in front of the spotlight most of his life. His big break came in 2006 with the monster hit, High School Musical, and as he was presented with more adult roles, so was he presented with the temptations that lure so many in Hollywood. Many doors get opened when you are young and beautiful in Tinsletown and recreational partying can soon turn into a problem, as it did for the young actor.

I mean, you’re in your 20s, single, going through life in Hollywood, you know?  Everything is thrown at you.” Efron recalls.

Eventually, it was reported that alcohol and cocaine abuse started to eclipse his talent and in 2013, Efron checked into a treatment center. This was the turning point for the actor and the impetus to change his life. He ditched his partying-ways and moved in with his brother. The dedication to his sobriety was the pathway to his best roles yet appearing in Neighbors, Dirty Grandpa, and the Ted Bundy biopic.

Efron takes his sobriety one day at a time and still attends AA meetings.

Anthony Hopkins – Sober since 1975

What can be said about Anthony Hopkins that hasn’t already said? A brilliant actor who has two Emmy’s, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar all of which were awarded to Hopkins after he stopped drinking. Even his knighthood (remember he is now Sir Anthony Hopkins) came after he beat his demons.

It’s said that Hopkins’ father was an alcoholic as well. Studies have shown that addiction is often passed down in families and Hopkins was no exception. Drinking at the pub night after night, often with other hard-drinking British actors like Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton, Hopkins admits that he’s made films he doesn’t even remember because he was so drunk.

Eventually, his wife left him and Hopkins, now deep into his own emotional abuse which he was trying to drink away, drove away from a party so drunk he blacked out while driving. Knowing he could have killed someone; Hopkins attended his first AA meeting 2 days later.

Hopkins later said, “I was hellbent on destruction. And I just asked for a little bit of help, and suddenly, pow. It was just like bingo.” He credits AA for saving his life.

Bradley Cooper - Sober since 2005


This United States Congress image is in the public domain.

Bradley Cooper is arguably one of the hottest actors in Hollywood right now. He was named the Sexist Man Alive by People magazine and Time labeled him as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

But it wasn’t always this way.

His own self-doubt and insecurities led him to thoughts of ending his own life early in his career. Alcohol and drugs became his solution, but like most, this led to devastating consequences. At one low point, Cooper intentionally smashed his head on a concrete floor while at a party and needed to be rushed to the hospital.

Once he was clean though, things began to change with a breakthrough role in The Hangover which eventually led to blockbuster movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and four years of Oscar nominations.

Bradley admits, “I would never be sitting here with you, no way, no chance, (if I hadn’t gotten sober).”

Success, like getting clean, requires hard work and dedication.

Nothing great is ever given to you in life. It must be earned. No treatment center in the world will get you sober if you don’t make a personal commitment to do it for yourself. Once you make that decision, you will be amazed at how much motivation you can find within yourself.


No matter what happens to you in your life, you always have the strength to overcome it.


As you reach for success, play to your strengths and your experiences. No matter what happens in your life, believe that you have the power to overcome it. Use these stories of success to light your own passion to recover, then let it rage inside you. Use these stories to set yourself on your path to success and stick with it. Believe that no matter what, you have the power within yourself to get clean.

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