Behind every recovering addict is a recovery hero — the person (or people) who never gave up hope that recovery was possible and supported the addicted loved one throughout their recovery process.
#1 Patton Oswalt
For some people who abuse drugs or alcohol as a way to get through tough times, having another person relying on them provides strong motivation to get sober. “If I hadn’t had a daughter [when] my wife died, we wouldn’t be talking right now,” actor and comedian Patton Oswalt told Playboy magazine. “I’m not saying I would be dead, but I would be a shut-in alcoholic.”
In a heartfelt interview, Patton recounted how he spiraled into depression and heavy drinking after his wife died in her sleep in April 2016 as a result of an undiagnosed heart condition combined with several prescription medications that were in her system. Oswalt explained that his grief would have driven him deeper into depression and alcoholism had it not been for his young daughter and his duties as a parent. His desire to make sure his little girl was okay after the loss of her mother forced him to maintain a routine of caring for her and taking her to school and therapy. Patton also credits watching comedy skits that embraced “sheer absurdity,” which allowed him to laugh until he cried — an outlet that helped him process his grief.
#2 Adam Clayton
For Irish rocker and U2 bassist Adam Clayton, several friends stepped in and convinced him he needed to get addiction treatment. In interviews Clayton revealed that musician Eric Clapton was the first one to approach him about his addiction and tell him he needed help, urging him into drug rehab. Another rocker, The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, convinced him to stick with the program. Townshend’s supportive visits to him in drug rehab, Clayton reveals, kept him strong. Clayton also credits his three U2 bandmates with sticking by him to offer their undying support before, during and after his recovery.
“I was lucky because I had three friends who could see what was going on and who loved me enough to take up the slack of my failing,” Clayton said during his acceptance speech for the honor he received from MusiCares, a charity of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. “Bono, The Edge, and Larry (Mullen) truly supported me before and after I entered recovery, and I am unreservedly grateful for their friendship, understanding and support.”
#3 Patrick Krill
Typically, it is a family member or friend who shows concern and helps an addict see that they have a problem and need help. Sometimes, though, the realization can come from someone you don’t even know, and in surprising ways.
For Salon.com writer Patrick Krill, his lightbulb moment came as he was watching talk show host and comedian Craig Ferguson perform a surprisingly personal monologue on “The Late Late Show” in 2007, which focused on his struggle with alcoholism and how he finally got sober.
“He’s been open about his own struggle with alcoholism and depression,” wrote Krill in a Salon.com post, “and no late night host has influenced me more.”
In a poignant monologue that went viral as soon as it was posted on YouTube, Ferguson recounted how one particularly depressing and drunken Christmas he felt so overwhelmed by his addiction that he decided to kill himself. Instead, he reached out to a sober friend and asked for help — and that friend got him into drug rehab and supported him through addiction recovery.
Ferguson’s story hit a nerve with Krill, and the comedian’s candid authenticity and unabashed sobriety inspired Krill to give up alcohol and get sober. Even though Krill had never met Craig Ferguson, he felt his influence keenly, describing him as his “sober guiding light.”
“It was more just knowing he was there — sometimes in my DVR, but sometimes just there. On TV. Even in the abstract and even when I wasn’t watching. Craig Ferguson was there — living a bold, conspicuous and flourishing life. He wasn’t missing out on the fun or life’s opportunities because he didn’t drink — he was the fun, he was seizing the opportunities, and he was excelling at living. It was reassuring and it was inspiring.”
We can’t all be celebrities, but we can be inspired by their stories. Their public struggles and victories show that the disease can affect anyone and offer hope to those who fear that recovery is merely an abstract notion, and not a real possibility for their lives. Recovery is possible, and helping someone find their way there is the greatest gift you can give.