updated on 2/22/2020
From watching Disney Channel and their famous original movies to belting the lyrics to Disney movie songs with your favorite character in doll form by your side, many of us grew up in the Disney universe. While Disneyland boasts about being “The Happiest Place on Earth,” it is not all smiles and sunshine. For many Disney stars, this life came with an insurmountable amount of pressure and stress. The result was often a lot of trouble for these child actors; many blame the Disney curse.
The Disney curse refers to the large number of Disney stars “gone bad.” There is a pattern among several successful Disney child actors that later got in various forms of trouble in their adult years. This trouble includes serious mental health problems, substance abuse, and legal issues. There are even some Disney stars that went to jail. While not every Disney kid star has had a breakdown similar to what you find in the tabloids, there are several who seem to have been unable to handle the pressures of being a child star and fell victim to the infamous Disney curse.
Being famous as a young child or teenager can be stressful. There are a lot of expectations; this accelerated lifestyle may be too much for everyone to manage. To cope with their troubles, too often, these young adults turned to drugs or alcohol. Some got carried away, but many Disney stars have been in rehab to try and overcome these issues. While substance abuse is not something to look up to, trying to get help is worth commending. At our Pompano treatment center, we are discussing the Disney stars that went to rehab to get help for their addictions.
Demi Lovato is just one of many Disney Channel stars that went to rehab. This Camp Rock and Sonny with A Chance star started her career with a bang before spiraling out of control from a combination of mental health issues and addiction problems. In 2010, she decided that enough was enough and got help. Since that time, she has been transparent about her struggles, including her relapse and nearly fatal opioid overdose. She returned to rehab a second time to regain control of her addiction once more and decided to move out of the spotlight in order to focus on her sobriety and mental health. She recently made her comeback with a moving performance at the Grammys as she debuted her new song “Anyone” that was written as a cry for help shortly after her overdose.1 A week later, she performed the national anthem at Super Bowl LIV and claims that she is now ready to tell her full story and reenter the spotlight sober.2 If you are struggling with opioid abuse, get opiate addiction treatment immediately as this could be deadly.
This Disney heartthrob stole the show in High School Musical and quickly became a big star. Although he was starting to make it big with several movies, this Hollywood Hunk was also abusing drugs and losing control behind the scenes. Although his stardom continued to grow, Efron eventually recognized that he had a problem and stepped away from the spotlight to get alcohol and cocaine addiction treatment in 2013.3 He came out sober and threw himself back into the movie scene. Unfortunately, his appearance in the comedy Neighbors looks to have led him to relapse but he went back into treatment to regain control and has been sober since.4
Shia Labeouf is another one of our Disney Stars that went to rehab. While this star has become famous for numerous acting roles, he started out making it big on the Disney show Even Stevens as the mischievous younger brother. His role in the Transformers movies skyrocketed his fame, but from the beginning, Labeouf struggled with drinking. This bad habit led to anger issues and run-ins with the law. After several arrests, he entered rehab for alcohol addiction treatment and is believed to now be sober. The actor has since opened up about the pressures he felt after Even Stevens and how he believed that money would be able to solve his parent’s relationship. He also came to discover that his drinking was a result of trying to cope with PTSD that he developed in childhood.5 Labeouf still has a long way to go, but this new realization led him to get help for his mental health as well as his drinking, and the star has been making progress ever since.
The That’s So Raven star who played Eddie was a big hit on the Disney screen but has been struggling with substance abuse and mental health problems. He started to have a downward spiral altogether, with various troubles with the law. His problems had gotten so bad that his friends reportedly stepped in and staged an intervention so that the TV star would go into rehab for help.6 Hopefully, his time in rehab will help him turn his life around.
Of all of the Disney stars that went downhill, Lindsey Lohan may have had the most tabloid articles written about her. Lindsey Lohan made a name for herself with the Disney remake of The Parent Trap. Her fame continued to grow with other hit Disney movies like Freaky Friday and Herbie: Fully Loaded. Eventually, the movie Mean Girls skyrocketed the redhead’s fame, but it was too much for Lohan to handle.
Not only did she struggle with substance abuse and poor mental health, but Lohan also had several run-ins with the law over the years, including DUIs and possession of drugs. She is another Disney star that went to rehab, but her treatment never seemed to stick. With several rounds of rehab, Lohan continued to violate probation and fail drug tests.7 After going to the Middle East to get away from it all, rumors of a comeback in the United States have started to circulate and fans are on the lookout.8
Miley Cyrus is another Disney star that appeared to go a little crazy. She rocked out on the hit Disney Channel show Hannah Montana long before she made the infamous nude appearance on a wrecking ball. With some failed public relationships, most notably with Liam Hemsworth, the star has gone through some rough times, and many believe that these heartbreaks have been a trigger for her downfall. Some sources suggest that Miley’s family staged an intervention and got her in rehab. Other sources say that the singer is actually recovering from throat surgery, which explains the silence.9 Maybe in the future, Miley will speak up and clear the air.
The mental health struggles of Britney Spears have been making headlines for several years, including the infamous occasion when she shaved her head. While this star is most known for her pop songs, Spears started on The Mickey Mouse Club on Disney Channel, making her another Disney child star that went downhill.
After her wildly successful singing career, it was clear that something was wrong. After her first mental breakdown in 2007, her father was appointed as her conservator, a person appointed to manage her affairs and maintain legal responsibility for her. Years later, the star still struggled with her mental health; in 2019, she was checked into a mental health facility. While some reports suggest that Spears voluntarily entered the facility because of her struggle coping with her father’s illness, rumors that she was forced there by her father started circulating. #FreeBritney was posted all over social media and fans appeared at the rehab to protest. Many fans demanded the Britney not only be freed from the rehab but also that the terms of her conservatorship be changed.10 While rumors and conspiracy theories continue to grow, the mystery of what really happened remains.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just the Disney curse. There are plenty of adult and child stars in rehab whose fame led them to the downward spiral that is addiction. Because of the intense pressure of the limelight, fame is often a precursor to substance abuse. While some have yet to get help, there are countless celebrities in recovery, including Daniel Radcliff, Jodie Sweeten, Matthew Perry, Ben Affleck, Rob Lowe, and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino.
The connection between substance abuse and celebrities seems to be a recurring trend. Many speculate that the pressures of fame, fast-paced lifestyle, high disposable income, and lack of privacy are all contributing factors for this association.
There are several celebrities and Disney stars that went to rehab, but the reasons why are not so clear. Dr. Scott Teitelbaum, a psychiatrist, suggests that “Some people who become famous and get put on a pedestal begin to think of themselves differently and lose their sense of humility. And this is something you can see with addicts, too.”11 Another psychiatrist, Dr. Dale Archer, suggests, “When we get an addictive rush, we are getting a dopamine spike. If you talk to anyone who performs at all, they will talk about the ‘high’ of performing. And many people who experience that high report that when they’re not performing, they don’t feel as well. All of which is a good setup for addiction.”11 While no one knows exactly why fame can lead to addiction, there is certainly a strong connection.
As a member of the Banyan family of addiction treatment centers, we have worked with several celebrities in helping them overcome their demons. We understand that celebrities may have different needs than the average person. Because they are constantly in the limelight and dealing with paparazzi, their recovery journey may require a greater level of secrecy and privacy. They may also be used to a higher standard of living than the average person and unwilling to sacrifice this lifestyle in rehab. Because of these special requirements, our luxury rehab center of Seaside Palm Beach is often a good option.
At Banyan Pompano, we understand that addiction does not discriminate. While many like to think this is just a list of Disney stars who went crazy, addiction can happen to anyone, and the most important thing is that these Disney stars went to rehab for help. Stop being ashamed of your addiction and get help. If these big Disney stars who have been in rehab can admit that they have a problem and need treatment, then so can you.