With the exception of most comedians, celebrities are an attractive group of people. The female celebrities often boast large chests, full lips, and flowing locks of their chosen hair color (usually blonde); while their male counterparts come equipped with bulging biceps, toned torsos, and chiseled jawlines. A combination of natural good looks and the money to purchase the finest clothes and beauty products on the marketplaces celebrities far above the common people when it comes to appearance.
Of course, having all that money can often lead to some pretty irresponsible decisions. While it can indeed be spent on hair gel, makeup, and plastic surgery, many celebrities find themselves blowing their earnings on a life of substance abuse. Unable to cope with the pressures of fame, countless young actors and musicians have turned to these substances in an attempt to stay grounded. Unfortunately, they are quick to learn that they won’t find anything but a temporary release and create a whole new set of problems in later life. They press their noses to a coffee table at a house party and look up ten years later to find themselves without any friends, gigs, or savings to fall back on. To make matters worse, their faces have been ravaged by incessant substance abuse, leaving them without the beauty they utilized to score work in their younger years.
If you are a budding actor or songwriter or have any aspirations to one day see your name in lights, let these 15 haunting photos of celebs destroyed by drugs serve as a warning.
15. Macaulay Culkin
With roles in such beloved family classics as Uncle Buck, My Girl, and, of course, Home Alone, Macaulay Culkin is arguably the most successful child actor this side of Shirley Temple.
However, Culkin’s star began to fade in the mid-1990s and he pretty much dropped off the radar, which was largely his own decision. In the years that followed, the former kid-actor used his vast fortune to indulge in the many rebellious acts he had missed out on during his adolescence. He soon developed a dependency on drugs and returned to the public eye in 2004 when he was arrested for the possession of marijuana, Alprazolam, and Clonazepam.
Although Culkin has since cleaned up his act and found more sensible uses for his millions, his face shows the effects of his years of substance abuse. At just 36 years of age, he looks like a much older, far less wealthy man.
14. Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse is the single most tragic case on this list. The English singer-songwriter, known for introducing a generation to soul music, died from alcohol poisoning on the 23rd of July, 2011. She was 27 years old.
While Winehouse’s early death was indeed upsetting, it surprised few. The London native was notorious for her reckless lifestyle and dependency on drugs and alcohol. She even sang about her refusal to seek help for her substance abuse in her 2006 single “Rehab”.
In the months prior to her death, Winehouse looked like an entirely different person to the smiling young woman who appeared on the cover of her debut album Frank. Pictures from Winehouse’s final days show her looking startlingly gaunt and frail, a haunting foreshadowing of what was to come.
13. Melanie Griffith
Melanie Griffith made a name for herself starring in Body Double, Something Wild, and Working Girl. However, she also made headlines for her incessant drug use and recurring relapses.
From 1981 to 1989, Griffith was married to her She’s in the Army Now co-star Steven Bauer. In later years, Griffith would attribute the breakdown of their marriage to her troubles with substance abuse, saying “What I did was drink myself to sleep at night. If I wasn’t with somebody, I was an unhappy girl.”
Griffith finally conquered her demons in 2000 after multiple stints in various rehab facilities. However, she was forced to turn to plastic surgery in order to return her face to what it was before she destroyed it with drugs and alcohol.
12. Danniella Westbrook
Danniella Westbrook is famous for two things: portraying the character of Sam Mitchell on hit British soap opera EastEnders, and her insatiable desire for cocaine.
Westbrook first began appearing in EastEnders in 1990, at just 16 years of age. Shortly after, she developed a fondness for cocaine and was using the drug regularly by 1995. In 1996, producers had become so exasperated by her frequent tardiness and poor behavior on set that they had no choice but to let her go. Despite losing a significant chunk of her income, Westbrook continued her use of cocaine. In 2000, she shocked the British public when she appeared at the British Soap Awards with her septum missing, eroded by years of drug abuse.
Westbrook would enter rehab several times over the next decade, enjoying brief periods of sobriety before falling prey to her demons once again. Despite undergoing plastic surgery to repair her nose and give her a more youthful appearance, Danniella Westbrook still bears the scars of decades of substance abuse and cocaine addiction.
11. Matthew Perry
In the 1990s, Friends began airing on US television and changed the world forever. The public adored the characters and it wasn’t long before it was one of the most watched television shows of all time. The series took a group of previously unknown actors and cast them into superstardom. It wasn’t long before members of the main cast of Friends required security if they wanted to walk down the street without being mobbed by fans. Despite this, the actors all managed to stay relatively grounded and make it out of the series without any major demons. Or so it seemed. Fans of the show have been shocked in recent years to hear Matthew Perry, who played Chandler Bing on the show, candidly discuss his past drug use.
According to Perry, he does not remember long stretches of the filming of Friends due to his dependency on a cocktail of drugs, including Vicodin and methadone. He also developed an alcohol addiction which threatened to derail his career and, combined with his other addictions, sent him to rehab on two separate occasions.
Perry’s weight fluctuated dramatically as he struggled to control his drug use and, although he has come out on the winning end of his substance abuse, he still shows the irreversible effects of his past behavior.
10. Janice Dickinson
Janice Dickinson has been referred to, both by the press and by herself, as “the world’s first supermodel”. While she did indeed pave the way for hundreds of thousands of women who have since entered into the notoriously competitive modelling industry, Janice Dickinson is just one of millions of people to see her life destroyed by drugs and alcohol.
Dickinson claims that she managed to avoid drugs entirely for the first five years of her career, but finally gave into temptation following a bad breakup. Her desire to self-medicate was aided by the copious amounts of free cocaine she was exposed to as a result of her success.
Dickinson spent the next couple of decades filling her body with drugs, checking in and out of rehab clinics as if they were hotels. She finally managed to overcome her substance abuse thanks to the help of the 12 step program. In a candid interview with Oprah Winfrey, Dickson, showing the full effects of her drug use, admitted that she had lost half a century of her life to drugs and alcohol.
9. Tammy “Sunny” Sytch
Tammy Sytch achieved her greatest fame in the mid-1990s, performing under the name “Sunny” as part of what was then known as the “World Wrestling Federation”. Not only was Sytch the first professional wrestling diva, she was also the first woman millions of 90s kids remember being attracted to. With her layered golden hair, full red lips, and flawless skin, Tammy Sytch made wrestling cool again.
During the 1990s, professional wrestlers led infamously reckless lives. They would indulge in drugs and alcohol in order to pass the time between shows and many of them saw their careers destroyed as a result. Sunny, unfortunately, was one of them. She left the company under acrimonious circumstances in 1998 with an addiction to painkillers and a dependence on alcohol. With no source of income and nothing on the horizon, Sytch’s substance abuse problems worsened and it wasn’t long before the good looks which had made her famous were replaced by wrinkles, rolls of fat, and dark circles under her eyes.
Sytch still battles her addictions today and is in and out of jail with some frequency, most recently for violating her parole. In an attempt to make ends meet, she briefly took to selling saucy Skype calls to fans, but was dismayed to find the number of people who wanted to see her touch her naked body had significantly decreased since the 1990s.
8. Edward Furlong
Edward Furlong is best recognized for his role as John Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, for which he received an MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance. Back then, Furlong was a fresh young actor with a baby face and hair that made 12-year-old girls everywhere swoon. Nowadays, however, Furlong’s appearance is quite different.
The actor saw his career begin to fail towards the end of the millennium before it was completely halted by his substance abuse problems. According to Furlong himself, he spent several years addicted to heroin and cocaine, and boy is he showing the effects of it today. No longer the handsome young man who stole the hearts of millions in the 1990s, he is often seen strolling through LA with dark circles under his eyes and his sizeable beer belly threatening to break out of his dirty t-shirt at any moment.
7. Amanda Bynes
Amanda Bynes is one of many examples of why children shouldn’t be entered into show business and given millions of dollars.
While Bynes managed to keep her life together during the height of her fame, things began to fall apart for her as she got older. In 2012, she was arrested for driving under the influence, the first of what would be many much publicized legal issues for the former Amanda Show lead.
In 2013, Bynes was arrested for possession of marijuana. She was also charged with attempted tampering with evidence and reckless endangerment after police officers witnessed her throwing a bong from the window of her 36th-floor apartment in an attempt save herself. The following morning, Bynes arrived at a New York City courtroom clad in dirty sweatpants and a cheap blonde wig, a far cry from the girl who was once the pimple-free face of Nickelodeon.
6. Pete Doherty
Pete Doherty is considered by many to be a modern-day Shane MacGowan. Like the former Pogues songwriter, Doherty has displayed an incredible talent for composing melodies and writing poetic lyrics. Unfortunately, he also shares MacGowan’s love of alcohol and drugs.
Doherty, who first achieved fame as a member of The Libertines, has had his drug use well-documented. He has been arrested countless times and has pled guilty to possession of a wide variety of drugs, including heroin, cannabis, cocaine, and ketamine. In 2007, he was even photographed attempting to make his pet cat smoke crack cocaine.
Doherty, who is the former boyfriend of Kate Moss, has been in and out of rehab clinics over the years. While it seems like his 2015 rehab stint helped him conquer the last of his demons, he is today showing the results of more than a decade of substance abuse. The singer has ballooned in weight and shows a mouthful of rotten teeth when he smiles, which draws attention away from the dark circles which lurk forever beneath his eyes.
5. Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan is yet another example of why achieving monumental fame at a young age isn’t such a good thing after all. Lohan began her career as a child model and went on to star in films such as Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, and Herbie: Fully Loaded. She also pursued a career as a singer, releasing two albums.
In the mid-2000s, however, Lohan’s star began to fade and she experienced difficulty in getting significant acting gigs. Around this time, she began to experiment with cocaine and other drugs. She also increased her alcohol consumption, which led to her receiving multiple DUIs and spending countless weeks in rehab.
While Lohan insists she has taken cocaine less than 15 times, pictures of her from her most turbulent years go to show that cocaine is not worth messing around with, even if you don’t consider yourself an addict.
4. Shane MacGowan
Frontman of The Pogues and writer of such Celtic punk classics as “Sally MacLennane”, “A Pair of Brown Eyes”, and “Fairytale of New York”, Shane MacGowan is legendary for his songwriting talent. He is equally famous for his ability to consume drugs and alcohol in doses that would kill a normal human being.
MacGowan first began drinking in his early teens and started using drugs not long after. He was left with little choice but to make it as a musician after being expelled from Westminster School for the possession of drugs.
By the time The Pogues got their first taste of fame in 1984, MacGowan was already showing the effects of substance abuse. His teeth were destroyed and his face was wrinkled, and he experienced obvious difficulty moving around. He even developed a dependency on heroin that he would not kick until 2001 when a friend reported him to the police in order to save the singer from himself.
3. Mickey Rourke
In the 1980s, Mickey Rourke was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. With roles in movies such as Angel Heart, 9 ½ Weeks, and Barfly, it seemed like Rourke was bound for a long and successful career in the movie industry. However, he gave it all up at the beginning of the 1990s, leaving acting to pursue a career as a professional boxer.
Unsurprisingly, Rourke’s dreams of becoming a world champion didn’t pan out and he was forced to reevaluate after only a couple of years inside the ring. Depressed by the failure of his boxing career, as well as by the breakdown of a relationship and a slew of legal troubles, Rourke turned to drugs for release. He became seriously addicted to heroin and wound up living in an apartment which was barely big enough to hold himself and his dogs.
In 2008, Rourke experienced something of a career Renaissance. Although his years of drug use had left his face looking withered and broken down, he was cast in the lead role of The Wrestler. The Wrestler, which received widespread critical acclaim, sees Rourke in the role of Randy “The Ram” Robinson, a down and out professional wrestler who must grapple with the loss of his fame along with his dependency on painkillers. Unsurprisingly, both the public and the media noted the similarities between Rourke and the character he was portraying.
2. Keith Richards
In recent years, it has become rather fashionable to joke about Keith Richards being immortal. While this is, of course, an outlandish suggestion, it does, as most good jokes do, contain a nugget of truth. While the Rolling Stones legend (probably) isn’t immortal, he has certainly consumed an amount of drugs that would kill any normal man or woman.
When Richards first rose to fame alongside Mick Jagger, he was a baby-faced young man from Kent who just wanted to play the guitar and make some money while doing so. Over the next few years, however, his attention shifted from making music to consuming as many drugs as possible. Throughout the 70s, he regularly indulged in cocaine and heroin and oftentimes found himself in trouble with the law. In fact, he has been tried on drug-related charges on five separate occasions and has spent short amounts of time in jail.
While it is indeed impressive that Keith Richards is still breathing after decades of abusing hard drugs, his countenance and body still show the effects of his rampant drug abuse. His face is covered by so many wrinkles it looks like a road map or some kind of plumbing system, his movement is more limited than it should be for a man of his age and his hair is a shade of grey so dark that it can only be achieved from years of absorbing cigarette smoke.
1. Craig Ferguson
Scottish comedian Craig Ferguson achieved his greatest fame rather late in life. In 1994, at 32 years of age, he traveled to the United States of America, where he scored his first significant role two years later. In 2004, he was named as the new host of The Late Late Show, making him the perfect example of the American dream.
Prior to making the journey to America, Ferguson spent part of his life struggling to get by in the United Kingdom and Scotland. His woes were worsened by a dependency on alcohol, which he has openly spoken about in recent years. According to Ferguson, his alcoholism had made his life so bleak by the winter of 1991 that he decided to kill himself on Christmas Day of that year. However, as he left to do so, he ran into a friend who invited him to join him for a drink to celebrate the holiday. Ferguson obliged and, thankfully, never got around to taking his life.
Ferguson spent a period of 1992 in rehab, which put him on the straight and narrow and helped him get his alcohol problems under control. Though he has been sober for over two decades, years of alcohol abuse have taken their toll on his body and left him looking all of and more than his 54 years.