20 Most Famous Heavy Drinkers Who Lived Long Lives

An example of a Famous heavy drinker who lived a long life is renowned Indian author Khushwant Singh. Khushwant Singh was known to pretty much drink every day and he passed away at age 98

I bet you’re surprised he was successful. Yes, not all alcoholics are shitheads. Some show outward signs of success; a good job, a steady income, accomplishments in their field, and even a loving family but they struggle with their addiction.

Below are 10 of the most famous high-functioning alcoholics in history, and how they either turned their life around or gave in to the monstrosity of alcoholism.

The Most Famous Heavy Drinkers Who Lived Long Lives

Here are some of the world’s famous high-functioning alcoholics:

  • Khushwant Singh

This world-famous author is known to pretty much drink every day.

He passed away at age 98 years.

That is quite long given the world we now live in.

  • Vincent Van Gogh

This man is a Dutch painter whose main diet consisted of alcohol, cigarettes, bread, and coffee.

Van Gogh was enamored with absinthe, and is featured in many of his paintings.

His addiction to alcohol contributed to his mental decline led to the removal of his ear in 1888 and his suicide in 1890.

Despite his poor mental and physical health in conjunction with alcohol drunkenness, this man was super prolific during his later years, producing over 2100 pieces of art, including over 800 oil paintings, in about a decade.

  • Stephen King

Stephen King is an American writer who has published over 200 short stories and over 60 books from the 70s through today.

Yet, he was buried in alcohol drunkenness for most of the late 70s and 80s.

His 1981 novel “Cujo” has won numerous awards and was turned into a movie in 1983.

  • Alexander the Great

The Macedonian King, Alexander the Great was a legendary Ancient Greek general who was said to be one of the greatest military commanders of all time.

As his power and control grew, though, so did his sense of megalomania and paranoia.

He considered himself to be a god and had increasingly erratic behavior that led him to murder a close friend. Some historians attribute this behavior to alcoholism, which contributed to his untimely demise at age 32.

  • Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy, an American actor best known for his enduring role as Mr. Spock from Star Trek is an alcoholic.

The huge success of the show led him to drink, and what Nimoy called “unwinding” spiraled into ritual drinking of beer, wine, or other spirits at the end of shooting each day.

Eventually, he even began to sneak drinks on the set, disguised as water in a paper cup. Later, he checked himself into rehab, where he got clean.

  • Betty Ford

Betty Ford, American former First Lady and wide to President Gerald Ford, was an outspoken proponent of the feminist movement.

Little did people know that much of her courage was due to her drinking habits.

I rate her as one of the most famous female celebrity alcoholics of all time.

In fact, because of her outspoken attitude, her approval ratings were much higher than her husband’s, at around 75%, and people admired her candor and outspokenness on various issues.

Yet, she suffers from her addiction to painkillers and alcohol. After a 1978 intervention, she went into treatment, going on to establish the Betty Ford Center, a rehabilitation clinic, four years later.

  • Buzz Aldrin

Buzz Aldrin, was an American astronaut who was the second human to walk on the moon.

After his return to planet earth, he discovered he has little to live for and he began his journey into drinking.

In fact, his already deteriorating life deteriorated more under the influence of alcoholism and depression. This caused his marriage to fall apart and he withdrew from family and friends.

He recounted the experience in his 2009 memoir Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon.

  • Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway is an American writer who published lots of works of fiction that are considered classics today.

He received a variety of serious injuries in WWII and later in a series of plane crashes that left him in chronic pain.

He drank heavily to escape the pain, once declaring that “a man does not exist until he is drunk.”

  • Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth TAYLOR is an American actress and a famous classic Hollywood star at that.

She spent more than three decades of her career addicted to painkillers and alcohol. She was one of the few celebrities who drink every night

She became the first celebrity to openly admit herself to rehab at the Betty Ford Center in 1983.

  • Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant, a former American president is one of the Famous heavy drinkers who lived a long life.

While working as a Union general, he was nearly always intoxicated, drinking from a large barrel of whiskey he kept stowed in his tent during the Civil War.

Yet, he led the North to victory and went on to become the 18th president of the United States.

He used to be a famous alcoholic who died well.

  • Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L.Jackson is a highly successful black actor, having appeared in over a hundred films, and is currently the second-highest-grossing actor of all time.

During most of his early career as a stage actor, he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs. His first role upon completing rehab was as a cocaine addict in Jungle Fever, the film that launched his cinematic career.

Most Famous Heavy Drinkers Who Lived Long Lives

How to Identify A High-Functioning Alcoholic?

Just because a person is able to function at work or in life despite their alcohol dependence does not mean that they are immune to its effects.

Here are some warning signs that could indicate someone is a high-functioning alcoholic:

  • They need alcohol to feel confident.

Most times, high-functioning alcoholics feel “trapped in” their drinking habits because they are afraid their career success will stop if they stop their alcohol habits.

  • They joke that they have an alcohol problem.

Yes, this is another clear sign.

Most alcoholics don’t take their alcohol dependence seriously or believe that they still have complete control over it.

  • They don’t Feel hangovers anymore.

Developing a tolerance for alcohol can, in turn, convince them that their drinking is not an issue since they aren’t feeling or seeing any effects.

  • They Drink Alone.

To them, drinking is a solitary pastime, not a social activity.

  • They Replace Meals with Alcohol.

Mealtimes are often an excuse for the high-functioning alcoholic to start drinking. They may even forego food altogether.

Some will replace alcohol with water.

  • They become a Different Person When They Drink.

Social drinkers do not suddenly change their personality as they drink. Alcoholics, however, behave quite uncharacteristically.

  • They become argumentative or hostile when they can’t drink.

Alcoholics will experience withdrawal symptoms if they are forced to stay sober or are cut off from their alcohol supply.

  • They can’t stop at one drink.

They have trouble setting a limit on their drinking.

Many won’t let alcohol go to waste and may finish friends’ drinks for them.

  • They hide their alcohol.

They keep their alcohol stashed in a secret location where their friends and family won’t find it, like in their desk or car.

  • They black out regularly.

They regularly do not remember what happened while they were drinking or got drunk.

Recognize these warning signs in yourself or a loved one? Reach out for help. It’s not too late.

Can Heavy Drinkers Live A Long Life?

Yes, they can as far as they eat healthily and engage in physical activities.

Who is the Greatest Drinker Of All Time?

Andre the Giant is regarded as the greatest drinker of all time.

He would drink 7,000 calories of booze daily. He is known for consuming 2 dozen quarts of beer as a warm-up before a wrestling match.

Andre would drink a case of beer chased down with a couple of bottles of vodka thrown in for good measure… every ninety minutes. That’s crazy!

Can You Drink Everyday And Live A Long Life?

Yes, but that is highly unlikely if you don’t eat healthily and do physical activities.

Author: Dr. Janet Hicks

Dr. Janet Hicks is an addiction medicine physician trained and certified to provide comprehensive care for addiction and substance-related disorders, including the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of such health conditions. With more than 25 years of experience, Doctor Janet Hicks helps you by providing all information required to educate yourself about substance detox and recovery.

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