30 Famous Musicians Who Were Drug Addicts

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Fame can be a double-edged sword for many in the music industry. Some may find themselves falling prey to the harrowing grip of addiction. Whether it was pills, alcoholism, stimulants, or something in between, they all had their demons at one time or another.

For this article, we’ll shed light on the experiences of 30 musicians who were drug addicts.

1. Kurt Cobain

how did kurt cobain die large image of kurt cobain on the cover of a record album
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First on our list of musicians who were drug addicts is the legendary lead vocalist of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain. In 1992, he admitted to “dabbling” in heroin to the point where he had to detox. By the onset of his European tour in 1994, his drug consumption had reportedly escalated.

Related: Where is Kurt Cobain’s Daughter Now?

2. Kanye West

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At one point in his life, rap icon Kanye West once battled addiction. The multi-grammy award-winning rapper shared with a TMZ journalist in 2018 that he was heavily addicted and dependent on opioids after undergoing liposuction. It led to a near-fatal overdose incident back in November 2016, which caused the cancellation of most of his Saint Pablo tour.

“Two days before I was in the hospital, I was on opioids. I was addicted to opioids,” West confessed. “I had plastic surgery because I was trying to look good for y’all.”

Related: Kanye West’s Net Worth

3. DMX

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Substance abuse and crack addiction haunted the life of DMX, landing him a spot on our list of artists who were drug addicts. According to one interview, DMX started abusing drugs, particularly crack cocaine, at the young age of 14. 

Sadly, he continued to struggle with addiction with that and other drugs throughout the rest of his life, eventually dying of a cocaine-induced heart attack when he was 50. 

Related: How Did DMX Die?

4. Keith Richards

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Keith Richards, one of the co-principal songwriters of the rock band Rolling Stones, is a legend. From surviving the media’s scrutiny to quitting his addiction, the musician has lived a hard life and emerged unscathed.

The musician was formerly addicted to heroin and cocaine and has long been sober, moving toward a clean lifestyle. As a result, we consider him one of the most commendable figures on our list of musicians who were drug addicts.

Related: Keith Richards’ Net Worth

5. Janis Joplin

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Widely regarded as one of the most successful rock performers of her time, Janis Joplin also lived an unfortunate tale of drug abuse. The star succumbed to a devastating addiction to drugs, including opioids and marijuana, tragically bringing her life to an abrupt end in October 1970.

Related: How Did Janis Joplin Die?

6. Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse 2007
Amy Winehouse at the Eurockéennes of 2007. Photo by Rama.

Amy Winehouse’s long battle with drugs was well documented. The highly successful singer was said to battle the relentless grip of alcohol, heroin, and crack cocaine and had made numerous attempts to cut it out of her system. 

Regrettably, despite her efforts towards recovery, the iconic Grammy winner fell victim to an accidental alcohol poisoning that led to her untimely demise on July 23, 2011.

Related: How Did Amy Winehouse Die?

7. Snoop Dog

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A rapper’s life is often riddled with drugs. Take it from the legendary rapper Snoop Dogg, who began smoking cannabis at the start of his career. While he did initially announce that he was giving it up in 2002, he only made it a little over a decade when he announced in 2013 that he smokes around 80 blunts of cannabis a day. In 2023, he announced that he would be “giving up smoke” again. However, as it turns out, it was just an advertisement for SoloStove, a smokeless fire pit. 

Related: 16 Interesting Facts About Snoop Dogg

8. Whitney Houston

whitney houston album
Rome, Italy – April, 23 2020, Whitney CD cover, the second album of the American singer Whitney Houston, released on June 29, 1987. Image from Shutterstock.

Named by Rolling Stone as one of the greatest singers of all time, Whitney Houston is another one of many musicians who were drug addicts. Houston’s decline in fame and the deterioration of her vocal prowess were all credited to the substance abuse that she was suffering from throughout her career. 

Despite the singer’s numerous attempts to regain control, she tragically lost her life on February 11, 2012.

Related: Whitney Houston’s First TV Appearance Will Give You Chills

9. Bobby Brown

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Bobby Brown, the man pointed out as the catalyst for Whitney Houston’s descent into drug addiction, also takes a spot on our list of musicians who were drug addicts. Like his ex-wife, Brown was also heavily addicted to cocaine and heroin. It only took some jail time for him to get clean and sober finally.

“Jail got me to stop taking drugs. I never wanted to go back to jail. I didn’t want to be incarcerated ever, ever again,” the “New Edition” singer told The Dr. Oz Show. 

Related: How Did Bobbi Kristina Brown Die?

10. Eminem

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Who would’ve thought that the king of rap would also be on our list of musicians who were drug addicts? Eminem has battled addiction to various drugs, notably Vicodin. He openly admitted to making frequent trips to Mexico with his friends to get his hands on the substance. It was only until his near-death experience due to an overdose in 2007 that he decided to stay away from it. 

Related: Eminem’s Net Worth

11. River Phoenix

river phoenix posing at an event with a fan
River Phoenix (August 23, 1970 – October 31, 1993) at the 61st Academy Awards, March 29, 1989 – Governor’s Ball. Scanned from the original 35MM film negative. Photo by Alan Light.

The phenomenally talented River Phoenix had gone through a lot. From being sexually abused when he was 4 to having problems with substance abuse, the Oscar nominee had a lot of baggage on his plate. The actor was said to be a common sight at drug-fueled parties, and on October 31, 1993, the musician met his untimely demise when he drank a “speedball” of heroin and cocaine, dissolved into a drink before chasing it with valium.

12. Macklemore

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macklemore amanda rhoades wikimedia commons e1509373734626

Macklemore also had a years-long struggle with substance abuse, making him a part of our list of musicians who were drug addicts. The rapper admitted that he almost lost himself amidst the addiction cycle, noting that recovery was a choice between life and death. Fortunately, he is currently seeking assistance and actively striving towards sobriety and is dedicated to maintaining a clean and healthy lifestyle.

Related: Macklemore’s Net Worth

13. Famous Dex

rapper famous dex arriving at an event
Famous Dex in 2018. Image by Ice Box on Wikimedia Commons.

Next on our list of musicians who were drug addicts is Famous Dex. Rumors of drug abuse started when he nodded off and slept (a symptom of drug use) during his Instagram Live. Following the controversy, he took the initiative to enter rehab, but unfortunately, his recovery appeared short-lived when a viral video captured him clearly under the influence. 

Despite this setback, he has since recommitted to his journey of recovery and is once again on the path to sobriety.

14. Syd Barrett

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Pink Floyd founder, Syd Barrett was said to be one of the most famous acid casualties in the British rock scene. His overreliance on LSD ultimately barred his popularity and forced his bandmates to cut their ties with him. The rockstar was also said to suffer from multiple mental illnesses, including schizophrenia. 

Related: 25 Singers Who Struggle with Mental Illness

15. Michael Jackson


During the last 15 years of his life, the king of pop, Michael Jackson, was said to be an extensive drug addict. A drug expert noted that his use was so covert that music executives had no way of knowing he was using it while preparing for his comeback tour in 2009. Jackson was said to have become dependent on prescription drugs, mainly painkillers and potent sedatives, which was attributed to the third-degree burns he suffered years prior.

Related: How Did Michael Jackson Die?

16. Yoko Ono

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Renowned Japanese singer and multimedia designer Yoko Ono once had to go hand in hand with drugs in the early years of her life. The illustrious musician openly admitted to having a heroin addiction. Thankfully, her “greedy dealer” kept her from receiving deadly quantities, which in turn saved her from spiraling into drugs.

Related: 17 Worst Singers of All Time

17. Demi Lovato

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Disney Child Star Demi Lovato had to go through a rough patch in her life due to substance abuse. The “Heart Attack” singer started taking drugs when she was 17 and still working at Disney. But despite various attempts at recovery, Lovato was said to relapse continuously and later became heavily addicted to crack cocaine and heroin. 

In one instance in 2018, she almost died from strokes triggered by a fentanyl-laced drug overdose. Thankfully, the star’s dark days are seemingly way behind her, and she has been recovering and seeking treatment ever since.

Related: Demi Lovato’s Net Worth

18. David Bowie

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Icon and music visionary David Bowie has always been very vocal about his past drug use and how it influenced him. Bowie started to use Cocaine to improve his creative expertise and vision further. However, things went south when he found himself addicted to the substance. Thankfully, he recovered and saved himself from becoming another statistic. 

Related: 17 Crazy David Bowie Facts

19. Elton John

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Elton John is up next on our list of musicians who were drug addicts. The rock legend turned to drugs to combat his shyness on stage. However, it all went downhill when he started to abuse the substance. It wasn’t until meeting an AIDS patient, Ryan White, in the 1980s that he changed his perspective and started working on becoming sober. 

“Ryan was the spark that helped me to recover from my addictions and start the AIDS foundation,” he said during a Harvard University appearance in 2017. “Within six months [of White’s death], I became sober and clean and have been for 27 years.”

Related: 30 Crazy Facts About Elton John

20. Louis Armstrong

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Like many others on this list, Louis Armstrong turned to drugs for fun, and they ultimately got the best of him. The most influential figure in Jazz was heavily addicted to smoking marijuana, consuming at least three cigar-sized joints a day throughout his life. Consequently, this habit contributed to the lung problems that he later developed.

Related: 26 Musicians Who Are Taller Than You Expected 

21. Notorious B.I.G.

how did the notorious BIG die
Sculpture of The Notorious B.I.G. Photo by InSappoWeTrust on Wikimedia Commons

From dealing with it to getting arrested because of it, illicit drugs have always been one of the main themes of Notorious B.I.G’s life. His songs often brush through his experience with substances and involvement with illegal activities, so it’s no secret how the rapper got a spot on our list of musicians who were drug addicts.

Related: How Did Notorious B.I.G. Die?

22. John Lennon

john lennon statue at madam tussands
Prague, Czech republic, July 22, 2017: John Lenon in Grevin museum of the wax figures in Prague. Image from Shutterstock.

Just like his wife, Yoko Ono, John Lennon also suffered from drug addiction up to the point of his untimely death. The co-lead vocalist of The Beatles was addicted to heroin and explained that the drug helped in dealing with painful emotions. Lennon also mentioned that one of the leading causes of his pain was The Beatles themselves, which was quickly going downhill.

Related: How Did John Lennon Die?

23. Gucci Mane

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During the height of Gucci Mane’s career, the rapper suffered from severe paranoia. His fear of being killed essentially consumed most of his life, and, to cope, the rapper had to resort to drugs, mainly lean. After serving three years in prison due to a federal firearm charge, the rapper eventually kicked “lean” out of his lifestyle and has been impressively bouncing back ever since. 

Related: 24 Rappers Who Served Time in Jail

24. Lil Wayne

lil wayne with a microphone and his hair flying in the wind
Chicago, Illinois / United States – Saturday, August 3rd, 2019: Lil Wayne performs at Lollapalooza in Grant Park, Chicago. Image from Shutterstock.

Lil Wayne has suffered from substance use throughout numerous periods of his life. The rapper previously suffered from many seizures due to codeine syrups, a key ingredient in “purple drank” or “sizzurp,” and was hospitalized on two different occasions. The rapper also faced legal charges after police found a handgun and numerous drugs, including cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin, in his private jet. 

Related: Lil Wayne’s Net Worth, Kids, Height, and More

25. Flavor Flav

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Next on our list of musicians who were drug addicts is Flavor Flav. The rapper and hype man revealed that during the peak of his cocaine and crack addiction, he consistently blew between $2,400 and $2,600 per day for a continuous period of six years. Fortunately, those days are behind him as he flexes his badge of honor for being 15 years clean and sober. 

26. Chance The Rapper

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In his early career days, aside from putting his name in the spotlight, Chance the Rapper also had to battle the dangerous grip of drug addiction. The rap star later opened up saying that Xanax almost took his life away. Thankfully, Chance The Rapper committed to a healthy lifestyle and has moved far away from his former self. 

27. Offset

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Former Migos rapper Offset was also once a drug addict. The rapper admitted in Variety that he was once addicted to lean. Thankfully, because of his family, most especially his wife Cardi B, he stopped doing the drug, completely kicking it out of his lifestyle.

28. Lil Uzi Vert

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At one point in his life, Lil Uzi Vert had to spend half a year in rehab because of drug addiction. The rehab stint and withdrawal were said to benefit the rapper, positively impacting his life. He credits newfound sobriety for turning his life around and improving his creative process.

29. Lil Baby

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Like many rappers on this list, Lil Baby struggled with a 10-year-long addiction to lean. It was only in 2018, with the death of Fredo Santana, that he was able to change his perspective and lead a healthy life. 

“I don’t know him or anything, but I kind of felt that when I saw that,” he said in an interview

Since then, he decided to stop taking the drug entirely, get addiction treatment, and commit to a life of sobriety. 

30. Quavo

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Last on our list of musicians who were drug addicts is legendary rapper Quavo. The former Migos member was never one to shy away from rapping and telling about his experience with drug abuse and addiction. Although he has made some progress and has continuously worked on himself, he shocked his fans when he admitted to relapsing on social media. Hopefully, he’ll use this setback to fight even more and get himself out of the grip that addiction holds. 

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Written by Angelo Ruelan


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