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Celebrities Who Have Abused Heroin

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

March 11, 2019

The combination of easy access and affordability, along with the drug’s highly addictive nature, has turned heroin into one of the most commonly abused drugs in Hollywood. While some celebrities receive the treatment they need for long-term sobriety, many fail to get help and ultimately succumb to a fatal overdose.

Academy-award winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman is the latest celebrity to die from a heroin overdose. Found with a needle in his arm and surrounded by 70 bags of heroin, Hoffman’s death was an especially tragic loss since just months earlier, he had checked himself into rehab. Hoffman’s alleged drug dealer is linked to other celebrities who have struggled with drug addiction, including the late singer Amy Winehouse and the late artist Michel Basquiat.

Sadly, great actors, musicians, and artists continue to struggle with heroin.  Below is a list of 28 famous actors, musicians, and celebrities who have struggled with heroin addiction:

#1: Corey Monteith

The Glee star, who had battled substance abuse since his teens and checked back into rehab in March 2013, died from a fatal combination of heroin and alcohol just months after completing treatment.

#2: Jim Morrison

The Doors musician was found dead in a Paris apartment bathtub at age 27. While no autopsy was performed, Morrison is believed to have died from a brain hemorrhage after snorting heroin, which the musician mistook for cocaine.

#3: Janis Joplin

One of the most famous female singer/songwriters, Joplin died from the combined effects of heroin and alcohol at age 27, stunning her fans.

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#4: Chris Farley

The Saturday Night Live comedian, known for his loud, energetic comedy style, died from a speedball overdose (a combination of heroin and cocaine) at age 33.

#5: Nicole Richie

During a 2005 interview on CNN, Richie told Ryan Secrest that she got into heroin after she began abusing prescription painkillers. Richie has remained heroin-free since completing rehab.

#6: Robert F. Kennedy

Kennedy was arrested for drug possession at a South Dakota airport in the 1980s after 182 milligrams of the heroin was discovered in his carry-on bag; Kennedy says he has never used drugs since the arrest.

#7: Cory Feldman

The 1980s child star says he first started abusing heroin after being introduced to it by a trusted assistant, who also molested him. Feldman says he was “instantly addicted” to the drug and spent up to $300 a day to fuel his habit.

#8: Russell Brand

Brand openly wrote about his struggles with heroin abuse saying, “I cannot accurately convey the efficiency of heroin in neutralizing pain” and that, even after a decade of sobriety, “constant vigilance” is necessary to stay clean.

#9: Courtney Love

The bad girl rocker claimed in an interview that she started using heroin at a Hollywood party in the mid-90s after a pal convinced her to shoot up by saying, “everyone’s doing it.”

#10: Robert Downey Jr.

The Iron Man star, who battled heroin and cocaine abuse for years, famously told a judge that using drugs was like having a gun in his mouth and liking the taste of gunmetal.

#11: Steven Tyler

The Aerosmith musician revealed in his autobiography that he famously spent $2,000 a week on heroin, cocaine, and alcohol, ultimately blowing through more than $20 million before getting sober.

#12: Angealina Jolie

In a 1996 interview, Jolie famously told the UK tabloid The Mirror that she had done “just about every drug possible”, including heroin, which she called “her favorite”.

#13: River Phoenix

Phoenix overdosed and died outside the Viper Room on Sunset Boulevard after taking a “speedball”, a combination of heroin and cocaine.

#14: Jimi Hendrix

In 1969, customs officials arrested the famous guitarist, singer, and songwriter for heroin drug possession, although Hendrix was later acquitted of all charges. One year later, Hendrix overdosed on sleeping pills, aspirated on his own vomit and dying from asphyxiation.

#15: Eric Clapton

After falling in love with future wife Pattie Boyd, who was still married to George Harrison at the time, Clapton began abusing heroin and stopped performing. The Who’s Pete Townsend later organized a comeback concert to help Clapton overcome his addiction.

#16: Jenelle Evans

Police arrested the MTV reality star for heroin possession and assaulting her husband in April 2013.

#17: Samuel L. Jackson

After Jackson’s third overdose, the Pulp Fiction actor finally got sober for good. Says Jackson of his drug use, “I was mad. I was crazed. I was not happy with who I was.”

#18: John Belushi

The Saturday Night Live comedian died at age 33 after taking a speedball, a fatal cocktail of heroin and cocaine.

#19: Kurt Cobain

While the Nirvana frontman left a suicide note, high concentrations of heroin were also found in his body following an autopsy.

#20: Paula Yates

Following the death of Yates’ partner INXS rocker Michael Hutchence, Yates turned to heroin for comfort. The coroner ruled her death the direct result of her “foolish and incautious” behavior with heroin.

#21: Sid Vicious

Vicious, the bassist for the famous punk rock band the Sex Pistols, died in his sleep following a hard night of partying. Sadly, Vicious’ own mother supplied her son with heroin the night of his death.

#22: Jonathon Melvoin

The keyboardist for the Smashing Pumpkins died at 34 after mixing alcohol with an especially deadly type of heroin known as Red Rum.

#23: Bradley Nowell

The lead singer for 90’s alternative rock band Sublime died from a heroin overdose in a San Francisco hotel, just hours before Nowell was scheduled to perform at a sold-out Sublime concert.

#24: Hillel Slovak

Cops found Slovak, a founding member the Red Hot Chili Peppers, dead in his Hollywood apartment in June 1988. Autopsy results indicated Slovak had died two days earlier from a heroin overdose.

#25 Pete Farndon

A founding member of the rock band The Pretenders, Farndon died in a bathtub following a heroin overdose.

#26: Dee Dee Ramone

Founding member of the punk rock band The Ramones, Dee Dee Ramone struggled with drug addiction for much of his adult life; he died from a heroin overdose in his Hollywood apartment at age 51.

#27: Lenny Bruce

The famous standup comedian abused drugs through much of his career. He was found dead on the bathroom floor of his Hollywood Hills home from a drug overdose with a syringe and burned bottle cap nearby.

#28: Billie Holiday

The great jazz singer struggled with alcohol and heroin abuse throughout her career. Holiday, who was arrested for drug possession in 1947 and served a year in prison, died at age 44 due to heart failure caused by cirrhosis of the liver, resulting from years of alcohol and drug abuse.

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