Long term famous functional drug addicts?

I realize the big problem is if you are functional enough to hide it the world may never hear of it unless it is revealed after your death, which is the case for William Stewart Halsted who took morphine daily for at least 30 years.


I realize everyone has a different definition of functional so if you think it fits I’d like to hear about it.

Keith Richards?

William S. Burroughs.

I’m not sure the word functional applies to a man whose drug abuse leads them to shoot somebody in the head.

He was drunk at the time. But, yes, fair point.

Oh yes, Keith Richards.

Good example.

One of my friends went to a Rolling Stones concert and she was close enough to the stage that she could see the angel of death hovering over him.


Not a true story.

Any angel trying that would be getting bloody tired of it by now I should think.

Burroughs kept writing and being involved in other artistic pursuits until his death, at age 83.

Thing is “functional” for a famous writer, artist or rock star doesn’t mean what it does for anyone else. Could William Burroughs or Keith Richards have held down an office job as a middle manager? Somehow I suspect not.

Sigmund Freud is of course another example:

By all accounts Ozzy Osbourne has had very few periods where he wasn’t on something. Either self-medicating or on Doctor prescribed medicines.

Sharon is barely enough of a stabilizing force to keep him from totally destroying himself. Its been touch and go. Ozzy did try to attack Sharon once and went to jail.

Ozzy is more popular now then ever and that’s in spite of his problems. I watched The Osbournes regularly and it was obvious that he was heavily medicated.


Hunter S. Thompson

In 1994, I was surprised to learn that Charles Bukowski had been productive pretty much until the end of his life. I wasn’t really familiar with him, but the references I’d heard made me picture a guy who hadn’t been coherent for decades. But writing professionally until you’re 74 is an accomplishment even if you’re not a substance abuser. I think it’s even more impressive that his material success was small enough that he didn’t have an army of handlers, without which people like Osbourne and Richards may not have survived.

Johnny Cash.

I think that poor angel has such a contact high they don’t realize how long they have been there … :smiley:

Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary was a god.

ETA: No oh, he’s outside looking in.

Those damn Russian Peace rallies!

Thompson’s actual drug use was exaggerated to promote his public persona. He occasionally commented in interviews that he felt trapped by the “Raul Duke” persona that had gotten out of hand, or that “obviously, my drug use is exaggerated or I would be long since dead”. That’s not to say he didn’t use drugs, just that it becomes difficult to determine his actual usage or dependence.

I think in order to be considered an addict you need to use addictive substances.

Winston Churchill got through a gigantic amount of booze.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge would count. His opium addiction did cause him problems, but it also apparently helped him with his poetry, and he was definitely successful given that he was well-known at the time and his work’s still read now.