Brad Pitt is one of the most famous actors in America, with an impressive list of film and television credits to his name. Married to actor Jennifer Aniston before their split in 2005, Pitt went on to court and eventually marry film star Angelina Jolie.
However, this seemingly epic romance crumbled in 2016 following incidents relating to Pitt’s alcohol use. Pitt has been open about his struggle with alcoholism and his journey to sobriety, bringing his positive transformation to light and encouraging others to seek treatment like he did.
Brad Pitt’s Career
Pitt left college a few credits shy of graduating to move to California and pursue a career in acting. One of his first notable roles was on the TV soap opera Dallas in 1987. In 1991, he appeared in Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise, which many consider his breakout role. He went on to star in famous films like Fight Club (1999), Ocean’s Eleven (2001), Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019).
The Journey to Sobriety
Pitt met and fell in love with Angelina Jolie while filming Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), a romantic action-comedy that entered production shortly after his divorce from Jennifer Aniston. Pitt and Jolie dated for 10 years, during which time they both adopted and welcomed children of their own. After a decade together, they finally tied the knot in 2014 but were married for only 2 short years before Jolie filed for divorce in 2016, citing irreconcilable differences.
Pitt believes his alcohol use may have contributed to the separation. Following his split from Jolie, the actor spent a year and a half seeking support through Alcoholics Anonymous. In 2017, he told Us Weekly, “Personally, I can’t remember a day since I got out of college when I wasn’t boozing or had a spliff or something. Something. And you realize that a lot of it is, cigarettes, you know, pacifiers.”
He also shared with the magazine that while he previously struggled with cigarette use as well, “I stopped everything except boozing when I started my family. But even this last year, you know — things I wasn’t dealing with. I was boozing too much. It’s just become a problem.”
Of his excessive use of cigarettes, Pitt told GQ, “I don’t have that ability to do just one or two [cigarettes]. It’s not in my makeup. I’m all in and I’m going to drive into the ground. I’ve lost my privileges.”
Is It Common for Celebrities to Struggle With Addiction?
Pitt’s story of struggling with addiction and his journey to attain sobriety is not an uncommon one in Hollywood. More than 23 million Americans in the United States have struggled with drug use at some point in their lives, while one in eight Americans meets the criteria for having alcohol use disorder. But why is it that alcohol and drug use seems to so disproportionately affect those in the spotlight?
For many celebrities, the pressure that comes with being in the limelight, being followed by paparazzi and struggling to meet high expectations can result in anxiety or depression. Being surrounded by environments where people are partying and using drugs and alcohol makes it easy to access these substances and use them to self-medicate instead of managing these disorders in a healthy way.
A 2017 study that looked at the prevalence of psychological disorders in university students found that individuals enrolled in arts programs presented at higher rates with such disorders. This study was based on the frequently asked question of whether people who are creatively minded are more susceptible to addiction and mental illness. This is one of many theories as to why artists like famous actors or musicians turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with stress.
Brad Pitt’s Words of Encouragement
After coming out of treatment for his alcohol use in 2017, Pitt had a positive outlook on his path forward. “I’m really, really happy to be done with all of that,” he told GQ. “And I’m really happy it’s been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I’ve got my feelings in my fingertips again.”
Brad Pitt credits fellow actor Bradley Cooper with being a major source of support and encouragement for him throughout his journey to sobriety. In an acceptance speech for his role in Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, Pitt singled Cooper out, saying, “I got sober because of this guy.”
He went on to thank Cooper, sharing that “every day’s been happier ever since.”
Pitt’s acknowledgement of his support system shines a light on how valuable it is to have people to lean on through the process of recovery. If you’re thinking about entering a treatment program for alcohol or substance use disorder, you’ll find that surrounding yourself with a network of people who love you, understand what you’re going through and are willing to offer support throughout the journey will help keep you on the right path.
Finding his way back to a positive mindset and rebuilding his personal life after his divorce, Pitt had some words of encouragement for other people struggling with substance abuse. He shares that while wrong turns along the way can be painful, the path to recovery isn’t linear but will ultimately lead to something better.
“For me,” Pitt said, “every misstep has been a step toward epiphany, understanding, some kind of joy.”
The journey to recovery is never a straight line, and it looks different for everyone. At Sunlight Recovery, we understand that you need an individualized treatment plan to support your individual path.
Our team of compassionate counselors is standing by 24/7 to take your call and help you take the first step towards sobriety. Contact us today for more information about our treatment programs, which include medical detox, inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, group therapy and individual therapy.