Cocaine, a derivative of the coca plant, is a stimulant drug that causes its users to feel euphoric and alert. Recreational cocaine use was not illegal in the United States until 1914. Before that, it was frequently included in patent medicines, most famously a drink called Vin Mariani, which was so popular that it was even endorsed by Pope Leo XIII. In modern times, cocaine use carries serious legal consequences. People who use cocaine recreationally are at high risk of overdose. Though cocaine is now illegal, the wealthy and famous are able to obtain it relatively easily. Here is a list of fifteen famous cocaine addicts.
1. John Belushi
John Belushi’s cocaine use is practically legendary in Hollywood. Reportedly one of his favorite party games was cocaine chicken, in which a line of cocaine was poured, and he and a friend would race to see who could snort the most before reaching the middle. Unfortunately, Belushi’s cocaine abuse contributed to an early death at the age of thirty-three.
2. Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston, a 7 time Grammy winning, 26 time Grammy nominated R&B soul singer who also met an untimely early death that was caused by drug use. At the age of forty-eight, Houston was found dead in a hotel bathtub. The medical examiner found that heart disease and cocaine caused her death. During an interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002, Houston opened up about her career and substance abuse—saying that it wasn’t the drugs that were the problem, but herself.
3. Ike Turner
Rock ‘n roll musician Ike Turner died in 2008 from a cocaine overdose. Earlier interviews with Turner indicate the drug abuse with a lifelong struggle for him. In 1989, he was sentenced to seventeen months in prison for drug-related offenses.
4. Tim Allen
Comedian Tim Allen is a Hollywood success story; after early struggles with drug abuse that included incarceration for possession of cocaine, Allen cleaned up his act. He wrote about his struggles in his memoir, Don’t Stand too Close to a Naked Man. Allen said once in an interview with Closer magazine, “It put me in a position of great humility, and I was able to make amends to friends and family and refocus my life on setting and achieving goals.”
5. Kate Moss
Model Kate Moss shocked the world when in 2005 pictures of her apparently using cocaine were published in the United Kingdom’s Daily Mirror. In October 2005, she went to a drug rehabilitation program and reportedly urged a friend to do the same. British police did not pursue charges related to the cocaine photos.
6. Sigmund Freud
Psychologist Sigmund Freud thought that cocaine was a good treatment for morphine addiction. He also used cocaine extensively, and some historians think that he wrote much of his original psychology theory while under the influence of cocaine. It is important to note that cocaine was not illegal when Sigmund Freud was using it.
7. Angelina Jolie
Actress Angelina Jolie went public in 2011 with her struggles with drug abuse, which were years in the past at that time. A man who claimed to have been her drug dealer said that in her early 20s she used to buy cocaine from him two or three times a week. By all accounts, Jolie has recovered from her substance abuse struggles.
8. Robert Downey Jr.
Actor Robert Downey Jr.’s substance abuse problems are no secret in Hollywood. He was arrested in 1987 and multiple times in 1996 for drug possession. He attended rehab to help him overcome his cocaine addiction several times, but he did not seem to make real headway until about 2002. Since then he has starred in several blockbuster movies and appears to have got his career back on track.
9. Steven Tyler
Steven Tyler, the lead singer of the band Aerosmith, reportedly spent millions of dollars on cocaine over the course of his career. In a 2013 interview, he said that he had “snorted half of Peru.” In 2012 on the tv show Ellen, Tyler said as a warning to rockers and all users of cocaine “It’s what we did, but you know there is no end to that. It’s death, jail, or insanity for real reals.”
10. Drew Barrymore
Drew Barrymore struggled with substance abuse at an extremely early age, and was reportedly snorting cocaine by the age of thirteen. Fortunately, she went to rehab as a teenager and has been clean since then. Barrymore is one of few child stars to transition to a successful career as an adult.
11. Corey Haim
Corey Haim was a child star in the 80s, known for films like Lost Boys and Busted. He died at the age of 38 in 2010 from a cocaine overdose. In 1994 Haim told The Sun, “But a year before that, I was starting to drink beer on the set of Lucas. I lived in Los Angeles in the ’80s, which was not the best place to be. I did cocaine for about a year and a half, then it led to crack. I started on the downers which were a hell of a lot better than the uppers because I was a nervous wreck. But one led to two, two led to four, four led to eight, until at the end it was about 85 a day—the doctors could not believe I was taking that much. And that was just the Valium—I’m not talking about the other pills I went through.”
12. Thomas Alva Edison
Inventor Thomas Edison was one of many people who used legal cocaine-infused patent medicines during the late 1800s. He credited Vin Mariani, a drink that is basically wine with cocaine in it, with helping him work long hours. Along with the long hours of working, he supposedly he only slept four hours a night all due to the Vin Mariani.
13. Robert Louis Stevenson
Writer Robert Louis Stevenson, known for works like The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, reportedly counted on cocaine, then legal, to help him work. Stevenson was chronically ill with tuberculosis and relied on the stimulating effects of cocaine to help him write his novels.
14. Hunter S. Thompson
Hunter S. Thompson is most famous for writing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. A frequent cocaine user, Thompson reportedly had it with sausage and eggs in the morning for breakfast. In a book that came out in 1994 titled HUNTER: The Strange and Savage Life of Hunter S. Thompson, it was written that Thompson would use cocaine up to 11 times a day along with other drugs such as LSD, marijuana, and alcohol.
15. Stephen King
Stephen King battled with cocaine addiction early in his career, but in the late 80s overcame his addiction with the help of his wife. Since then, he has written celebrated novels such as The Green Mile and Hearts in Atlantis. in an interview in 2014 with Rolling Stone he said, “Yeah, coke. I was a heavy user from 1978 until 1986, something like that.”
Whitney Houston — Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0
Tim Allen — Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0
Drew Barrymore — By David Shankbone (David Shankbone) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons