A lot of people subscribe to the idea that ex-addicts will never fulfil their real potential. But career success after addiction isn’t all that rare. Showbiz is an obvious place to start looking, but sport, politics and the business world also contribute to our list of successes. Check out these inspiring stories that prove the point. You may just be surprised!

  1. Oprah Whitney

Drug of choice: Crack

It’s hard to imagine that Oprah Winfrey, the woman we know as a successful entrepreneur and talk show hostess is a one-time crack user. It happened back in her twenties when a boyfriend introduced her to the drug. She kicked the habit and the boyfriend out of her life and has never looked back.

  1. Kirstin Davis

Drug of choice: Alcohol

Today, the gorgeous ‘Sex and the City’ star is the picture of health, but in 2008, she was brave enough to share her story of recovery from alcoholism. Back in the days when she was an addict, she didn’t think she’d live past 30, but kicking the habit has opened the doors to success and a healthy life.

  1. Charlie Watts

Drugs of choice: Alcohol and heroin

Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts was always the ‘quiet’ band member. He didn’t get involved in scandals or outrageous parties, but from 1983 to 1986, he was a heroin addict and alcoholic. Although he was already famous and successful, his family relationships nearly broke down because of his habit. Charlie’s post-addiction success? Staying sober and keeping his family together.

  1. Larry Kudlow

Drugs of choice: Cocaine and alcohol

Being a Wall Street executive and an economic advisor at the White House amounts to serious success in a serious job, but Larry Kudlow was hiding a huge problem: his addiction. It took several attempts to kick the habit, but in-patient rehab and spiritual mentorship ultimately worked. Kudlow has been open about his experiences because he wants to inspire others – and his continued successes in politics, journalism and finance are legendary.

  1. Stephen King

Drugs of choice: Alcohol, cocaine, painkillers, marijuana

The character of the alcoholic writer who is losing his sanity portrayed in King’s bestseller ‘The Shining’ is no figment of the imagination. King was writing from experience. After kicking the habit in the eighties, King worried that his writing would suffer, but he has written some of his finest works since achieving sobriety.

  1. Laura Walsh

Drugs of choice: Painkillers and alcohol

Although Laura Welsh may not be well known in the US, she’s a household name in the UK. She bounced back from a crippling addiction consisting of 30 opiate painkillers and 20 cans of beer a day and built a hugely successful business from absolutely nothing.  She’s also a successful authoress and an inspiring example of how an ex-addict can achieve massive success.

  1. Court McGee

Drugs of choice: Heroin and alcohol

Martial artist Court McGee was declared clinically dead from a heroin overdose in September 2005, but medics managed to revive him. His family found him a place at a rehabilitation center, but McGee would struggle with relapses before finally achieving victory over his habit. Since then he has achieved enormous success, but to him, his greatest success was winning back his wife, Courtney.

  1. Samuel L Jackson

Drug of choice: Crack

Twenty years of sobriety is surely proof that one can kick a drug habit for good. Samuel L Jackson’s continued sobriety is a great achievement in itself, but during this time, he has also made some of his finest movies. Jackson attributes his success to being a quitter: the best thing to be when what you’re quitting is drugs.

  1. Michael Glasser

Drugs of Choice: Multi-drug addiction

The tycoon of Denim, Michael Glasser wasn’t always on the road to success. At one point, he even sold Cocaine to keep up his habit. After nearly dying as a result of taking Quaaludes, his family persuaded him to enter rehab. Glasser gave it is his best effort, and today, he’s a multi-millionaire businessman who has been sober for 30 years.

  1. Buzz Aldrin

Drug of choice: Alcohol

Few people realize that the second man to set foot on the moon was a recovering alcoholic. Being a hot-shot astronaut and a substance abuser just don’t seem to fit together, but Alrdin had already quit drinking before the 1969 moon mission.


  • Getting help is worthwhile
  • You may relapse, but you can recover from that too
  • Working at sobriety is worthwhile
  • Alcohol is scarily addictive
  • Inpatient treatment is often a necessity
  • Counselling, mentorship and support are important
  • Success after addiction is possible