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25 Singers Who Were Drug Addicts

singers who were drug addicts Britney Spears on stage in a pink outfit performing
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Unfortunately, the music world seems to make artists vulnerable to drug addiction. Several prominent faces have struggled with the grip of medication and narcotics, some ultimately dying as a result of their drug use.

If you’re interested in learning more about singers who were drug addicts, you’re in the right place. Get comfortable as we talk more about artists with battles in this area. 

Remember, if you or a loved one is struggling with drug abuse and addiction or showing signs of a drug overdose, call emergency services immediately. There are many treatment programs that can help you to quit using drugs and live a sober life. 

1. Stevie Nicks

Stevie nicks facts
Stevie Nicks arriving for the 2011 Glamor Awards, Berkeley Square, London. 07/06/2011 Picture by: Alexandra Glen / Featureflash on Shutterstock.

Stevie Nicks was one of many drug addict singers who was addicted to cocaine during the early days of her career. It got so bad that she burned a quarter-sized hole in the side of her nose and pushed herself nearly to the point of a brain hemorrhage. 

Her bandmates pushed Nicks to get help, and she eventually healed at the Betty Ford Clinic, though she did struggle for nine years afterward with an addiction to Valium and other ‘clean’ prescribed drugs. 

Related: 14 Best Stevie Nicks Songs

2. Elvis Presley

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Elvis Presley had a wild and tragic career, starting out as a beaming youngster and ending as a bloated version of himself who was clearly unwell. He’d been addicted to opiates and other drugs for a long time when he passed away from a concoction of laxatives, antihistamines, Quaaludes, sleeping pills, hormones, and Valium. 

Presley’s doctor, George Nichopoulos, had prescribed him tons of painkillers and ultimately kicked off an opiate addiction for The King, which would last for the rest of his life.

Related: How Did Elvis Die?

3. Britney Spears

short singers Britney spears wearing a black outfit on the red carpet
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Britney Spears is on our list of singers who were drug addicts, though her addiction to Adderall wasn’t nearly as extreme as others here. Spears reported loving the drug because it removed her depression and helped relieve her of social anxiety and postpartum depression.

4. DMX

dmx on stage rapping in a brown shirt
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Rapper DMX was very open about his struggles with drugs, revealing it all started for him when he accidentally smoked a cocaine-laced blunt at 14. He battled cocaine addiction for a quarter of a century, eventually turning to marijuana as an attempted alternative before his untimely cocaine-induced heart attack in 2021.

5. Demi Lovato

demi lovato's net worth image of demi lovato on the red carpet
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Demi Lovato is very open about her past with drug addiction. Lovato found herself addicted to crack cocaine and heroin at the height of her singing and acting career. She overdosed on fentanyl-laced drugs in 2018, nearly causing her death in the hospital after a heart attack and many strokes.

6. James Brown

james brown on stage in a red suit singing into a microphone
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James Brown was a pioneer of funk and soul, but unfortunately he’s also on our list of singers who were drug addicts. The artist was prone to drug abuse thanks to mental health issues. He wasn’t a fan of being asked questions about the subject and was one of the more reserved singers who were drug addicts.

7. Amy Winehouse

amy winehouse on the red carpet in a black dress
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Amy Winehouse had a tragic life, as shown in songs like “Rehab,” where she sang about her addiction and refusal to access treatment. She first became addicted after her grandmother passed away in 2007, taking heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, ketamine, and drinking alcohol until she ended up in the hospital.

Winehouse struggled with depression, self-harm, and an eating disorder, continuing her substance abuse until she passed from alcohol poisoning at 27.

Related: What is the 27 Club?

8. Vince Neil

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Vince Neil, the lead singer of Motley Crue, is on our list of drug addict singers and is well-known for his life of debauchery and drugs. He was known to abuse LSD, cocaine, and heroin, some of which he used even before joining the band. He was eventually booted from Motley Crue for his drug-ravaged rocker lifestyle. 

9. Ozzy Osbourne

sharon osbourne with her husband Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne and Sharon Osbourne at Spike TV’s 4th Annual “Guys Choice Awards,” Sony Studios, Culver City, CA. 06-05-10. Image from Shutterstock.

Ozzy Osbourne has an extensive track record of drug use, starting in the 70s with marijuana and an introduction to cocaine through guitarist Leslie West. Osbourne took a litany of drugs, including coke, alcohol, heroin, acid, and Quaaludes, to name a few. 

Most of Osbourne’s life was led by drug addiction, pushing him into eccentric behaviors – public arrests, the addiction of his children, and stripteasing for executives at one unfortunate event.

Related: 10 Best Ozzy Osbourne Songs

10. Jimi Hendrix

famous musicians who are color blind jimi hendrix playing guitar on stage jimi hendrix songs
SAN FRANCISCO, USA – OCT 5, 2015: Jimi Hendrix at the Madame Tussauds museum in SF. It was open on June 26, 2014. Image from Shutterstock.

Jimi Hendrix is another on our list of singers who were drug addicts, though his drug use was much less extreme than many peers. Typically, he found himself using marijuana and psychedelics. However, he passed away in 1970 after taking 18x the recommended dose of barbiturates and choking on his own vomit. 

Related: How Did Jimi Hendrix Die?

11. Kurt Cobain

how did kurt cobain die large image of kurt cobain on the cover of a record album
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Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s life was overwhelmed by depression and drugs in his final years, especially after a near-fatal overdose in Rome. He began his addiction to heroin in 1986, overdosing several times before taking his life in his apartment in 1994 with Valium and heroin running through his body. 

12. Elton John

most famous gay singers elton john in a blue suit and glasses on a TV show
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Like many singers before him, Elton John looked to cocaine and other drugs to deal with the pressures of fame. Not only did it nearly kill him, but he found he couldn’t get himself to stop using it. He reported a desperate cycle of lows and highs before checking himself into rehab in 1990.

13. Keith Urban

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Keith Urban might be surprising on our list of drug addict singers, but the talent has been very honest about his battle with alcohol and cocaine addiction at the beginning of his career. He went to rehab in 1998 at the request of his wife, Nicole Kidman, thanking her for saving his life in the song “Thank You.”

14. Eric Clapton

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Next on our list of singers who were drug addicts is Eric Clapton, who famously dealt with drug and alcohol addiction for two decades of his life. Fortunately, the “Layla” singer kicked his demons and is clean today.

15. Steven Tyler

musicians who dated underage girls steven tyler on stage in a campo shirt and vest holding a microphone
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Steven Tyler has had a long and very public battle with drug addiction. He started in the 60s with recreational marijuana, moving to everything from heroin to coke as Aerosmith rocketed to fame. Tyler eventually got sober in the 80s but relapsed on painkillers for foot surgery in 2022.

16. Macklemore

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Macklemore began rapping around 14 years old, beginning his addiction with a stolen bottle of liquor from his parents’ cupboard. The rapper turned to Oxycontin and marijuana to cope with the stress of failure at the beginning of his career.

The addiction led to depression, forcing Macklemore to get treatment and turn his life around to become a champion for sobriety. 

17. Whitney Houston

whitney houston movie whitney houston on the red carpet in a pink dress
23FEB2000: Pop star WHITNEY HOUSTON at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Paul Smith / Featureflash

Whitney Houston is perhaps one of the most tragic drug addict singers, battling the disease her entire life. Her drug use was reportedly an “outlet,” leading to multiple appearances in rehabilitation. Unfortunately, her addiction led to an accidental drowning at 48 with cocaine in her system.

Related: How Did Whitney Houston Die?

18. Judy Garland

judy garland in a sparkly sheer top leaning sideways
A publicity still of Judy Garland from MGM used in conjunction with promotion of The Harvey Girls (1946). Image is in the Public Domain.

Judy Garland began her career starring in The Wizard of Oz, boosting her to enormous fame and intense pressure from the publicity and wild shooting schedules. In her adult life, Garland turned to pills and alcohol, eventually passing away from a barbiturate overdose in 1969.

19. Jackie Wilson

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Next on our list of singers who were drug addicts is Jackie Wilson, who began experimenting early with alcohol using money from early gospel concerts in his Detroit neighborhood. His other main addictions were amphetamines and cocaine.

Wilson had a heart attack in 1975, remaining in a coma until he passed away in 1984.

20. Marilyn Monroe

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Marilyn Monroe struggled with insomnia, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression all her life, turning to amphetamines and barbiturates to help her feel better. Her loneliness, insomnia, and sadness after a divorce from Arthur Miller and being fired from 20th Century Fox eventually led her to accidentally overdose on champagne, chloral hydrate, and Nembutal.

21. Hank Williams

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The 21st entry on our list of singers who were drug addicts is Hank Williams, who struggled with a myriad of substances: cocaine, chloral hydrate, morphine, alcohol, and heroin. A convicted forger and fake doctor, Horace Marshall, is responsible for adding many of these drugs to his lineup after Williams experienced a severe back injury while hunting.

Unfortunately, the combination of alcohol and drugs weakened his heart and caused heart failure and his death in 1953.

22. Jim Morrison

The doors jim morrison
Photo of the rock group The Doors. From left-Jim Morrison, John Densmore, Robby Krieger and seated, Ray Manzarek. Photo taken in 1968 by APA (Agency for the Performing Arts Management.) Image is in the Public Domain.

Jim Morrison grew in fame as his band, The Doors, became more popular, leading to a dramatic increase in his alcohol and substance abuse. The addiction led to erratic behavior, causing tension in the band that ruined Morrison’s career. Eventually, Morrison’s addiction led to his death in 1971 at 27 years old.

23. Janis Joplin

janis joplins figure in the madam tussands wax museum
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Janise Joplin is next on our list of drug addict singers. She struggled with the power of fame and deep loneliness at the very highest point of her career. She started abusing narcotics as a teenager thanks to bullying, eventually turning to methamphetamine and hard liquor as an adult. Joplin passed away on October 4th, 1970, from a heroin overdose.

24. Dee Dee Ramone

dee dee ramone with shaggy hair performing on stage
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For most of Dee Dee Ramone’s life, he was addicted to heroin and other hard drugs. Ramone began using heroin as a teenager to deal with abusive and alcoholic parents, leading to his tragic death of a heroin overdose in 2002. 

25. Tom Petty

famous singers who went bankrupt tom petty on stage holding his arms out
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Last on our list of singers who were drug addicts is Tom Petty, an icon who battled with an addiction to cocaine and heroin throughout the 90s. He reportedly used it to silence pain from his abusive childhood, keeping it secret until his friend documented it in the book Petty: The Biography to warn younger fans of its addictive qualities.

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Written by Hope Davis

Long-time music lover Hope became a full-time writer in 2020 after being laid off from her regular job due to COVID-19. She now spends her time traveling the world to see her favorite bands while writing about them!


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