Is it Harder for the Kids of Celebs to Recover?

Is it Harder for the Kids of Celebs to Recover?


sober kids of celebsJust because you’re born with a silver spoon in your mouth doesn’t mean you won’t eventually fill the spoon with heroin. In other words, having famous parents may sound awesome. Luxurious homes, the best schools (or private tutors and no school at all, yippee!), fantasy vacations, awesome clothes, cars and credit cards without limits. But what about being raised by nannies, being subjected to public scrutiny during your awkward teen years and often being surrounded by people you aren’t sure you can trust? Maybe these are some of the reasons it’s so common for the kids of celebs to develop substance abuse problems. Of course some celeb kids manage to make it back from the horrors of active addiction and become great examples of sober life. But for every success story, there is a tragedy (or two).

This Ain’t Nothing New

Addiction is a family disease; just ask legendary songstress Liza Minnelli, whose mom Judy Garland died of an accidental barbiturate overdose in 1969 at the age of 47. Minnelli openly admits that she has battled booze and prescription drugs, which she says started when a doctor put her on Valium after her mother’s death. In a 2008 interview with The Guardian, the actress said of addiction, “My whole life, this disease has been rampant. I inherited it, and it’s been horrendous.” I hear ya, Liza. In the same interview she talks about how, although she has always struggled, she attends AA and isn’t afraid to ask for help.

Speaking of One Day at a Time, Mackenzie Phillips, child sitcom actress and daughter of The Mamas & the Papas singer John Phillips, has faced drug addiction, multiple arrests and ended up in rehab—multiple times. She finally got sober after appearing on season three of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew and now works as a drug and alcohol counselor at Breathe Life Healing Center. Although going to rehab on TV can be a terrible idea (just ask the former clients who have tragically overdosed since appearing on the show), I’m glad it seems to have worked out for Mack.

History Repeating Itself

With two parents who battled addiction, it’s sad, but not surprising that Bobbi Kristina Brown faced her own substance abuse issues. After her mother Whitney Houston was found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel room in February 2012, Bobbi Kristina spun out of control. Reportedly, she was using heroin, alcohol and prescription drugs with her family friend-turned fiancée Nick Gordon when she was found unresponsive in her home in January 2015. After being in a coma for six months, she died on July 26th. She was 22 years old. Recently Rolling Stone reported that a judge found Gordon “legally responsible” for her death in a civil suit and ordered him to pay $35 million in damages to her estate.

Less than a year before Bobbi Kristina was found face down in a bathtub, English model Peaches Geldof died of a heroin overdose in April 2014. Just like her mom had 14 years before. The 25-year-old was the daughter of rock star wife Paula Yates (who was married to 70s singer Bob Geldof and was later the girlfriend of INXS front man Michael Hutchence). A journalist like her mom, Peaches was married twice, to two different musicians. In a 2012 interview with Elle UK, she said, “I remember the day my mother died and it’s still hard to talk about it.” It’s a heartbreaking legacy to leave behind to her two small children.

The fatal methadone overdose of Anna Nicole Smith’s son Daniel in September 2006 is a little different because it preceded his mother’s death by five months. Daniel died while visiting his mom and newborn baby sister Danilynn in the maternity ward of a hospital in the Bahamas. Daniel was reportedly using the methadone recreationally and mixing it with other drugs, which is beyond dangerous. He was also hella fucked-up because he witnessed his mom’s addiction to prescription drugs first-hand (so did anybody watching her riveting train-wreck of a reality show). Anna Nicole held on for another few months until her death in February 2007, which started an avalanche of celebrity deaths involving prescription drugs including Brittany Murphy, Heath Ledger, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Michael Jackson.

Speaking of Jackson, before Paris Jackson was defending her sobriety on Instagram, she was the little girl who took to the stage at her father’s memorial service to tearfully tell the world, “Daddy has been the best father you can ever imagine.” In the wake of Michael Jackson’s 2009 death, his daughter Paris has struggled to cope. In 2013, the then 15-year-old was rushed to hospital after allegedly trying to commit suicide. She went to rehab and got sober, proclaiming herself a proud member of AA. Now 18, this summer she was spotted carrying a six pack with her much older boyfriend (oh girl, that’s always how it starts). Her family and the public reportedly started to worry that her recovery was in danger. How about we all leave the (not so) poor girl alone and let her grow up?

But Then There’s Hope for the Future in the Least Likely of Places

With a dad like Ozzy Osbourne, I would be surprised if his kids weren’t on something. Two of Ozzy’s four kids have struggled publicly with addiction. In a fun twist, the family got sober youngest to oldest, with 31-year-old Jack sober for 13 years after going to rehab in 2003. His sister Kelly, who is 32, cleaned up her act in 2008 after a much-publicized addiction to prescription painkillers. Although Kelly admits to an occasional drink (how do you do that?), she is adamant about avoiding drugs and passionate about moving forward in a positive direction.

At the age of 67, Osbourne is almost as famous for his booze and drug-fueled antics as he is for his music. He went to rehab many times throughout his career, most recently in early 2013—when it reportedly finally stuck! Although rumors of a recent affair caused Ozzy and Sharon to briefly split, word is that they are back together and his sobriety is intact (although his fashion choices are still in question).

Who would have ever guessed Ozzy Osbourne would be an example of anything but incomprehensible mumbling? Since addiction is a family disease and we have seen so many famous kids fall into the trap of thinking they will be able to handle it even though their parents couldn’t, it’s nice to see a success story. Let’s hope more people with money and influence make the choice to use their fame to raise awareness about the dangers of addiction and encourage families in need to find an interventionist if they need help, rather than becoming just another sad story in our newsfeed.


About Author

Becky Sasso is a writer and editor who worked at the world headquarters of an international 12-step organization and has a Master's in communication from Johns Hopkins University. She currently serves as the head of Marketing and Development for The Gentle Barn Foundation and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.