Celebrate Black History Month With These Inspirational Sober Black Musicians
We hope that sharing these celebrity stories of struggle and triumph will remind you that wealth and fame don’t protect anyone from mental health challenges or substance abuse.
Money can buy the best medical care and expensive treatment centers, but we’re all human. For recovery to work, you must be willing to accept change and commit to doing what it takes to heal. Recovery is a personal experience.
Our list of sober Black celebs is not an exhaustive one. Choosing a substance-free life is becoming more common in entertainment and otherwise. This awareness helps to reduce the stigma around addiction and raise awareness to help those still suffering.
Mary J. Blige speaks openly about suffering various childhood traumas and their significant role in her substance abuse. Blige struggled with alcohol and cocaine for most of her adult life.
The singer’s substance use escalated during an abusive relationship; after the relationship ended, her use didn’t.
When she decided to make a change and get sober for good, she did so on her own. She has been sober for several years.
Blige told Billboard magazine, “I meditate and pray and try to really take responsibility. That’s therapy too, when you take responsibility for all the foolishness you’re doing and all the things you did wrong. It hurts. You got to feel it, deal, then heal.”
Rapper Vince Staples has never been into drugs or alcohol. Staples says he was surrounded by death and poverty while growing up in a tough part of Long Beach, California. He credits those experiences for who he is today.
Where he comes from, he says, people use drugs and alcohol to cope. But they weren’t on his to-do list.
He told Page Six, “When you have to think about your next 15 minutes — you have to think about the walk to the store, you have to think about how you’re getting to school, you have to think about the bus ride home, you have to think about how you’re going to sneak a gun into the football game — the last thing I was thinking about was getting high.”
The singer and actress, who became famous on Season 3 of American Idol, says she has never done drugs or drunk alcohol. “I’ve never been interested. Nobody ever believes it,” Hudson told talk show host Chelsey Handler.
R&B artist Aliah Sheffield shares her struggles and her decision to get sober online with her community. Her song “Earth is Gheto” hit viral heights on social media in 2021.
Sobriety was one of her goals for 2019, and she is proud now to have finally achieved it. Her story shows that recovery is not linear, nor is it immediate. It may be a thought first before it becomes an action.
The singer went to Twitter to share the realities of recovery, tweeting, “I’m still sober, but it ain’t easy” in October 2022; she was 14 months sober.
She released the single “Never Drinking Again” in 2022. The lyrics hit close to home for many who have struggled with addiction:
“I’d like to get my life right / Soon as I get through the night,” she sings in the opening verse. “Some things look better with light / Maybe tomorrow I’ll try.”
The rapper discussed his mental health issues and substance use on more than one occasion.
In an interview with SELF, Cudi talked about his struggles as a young boy opening up about his feelings and said he got “really good at masking the madness over the years.”
Although he spent some of his teen years partying, this way of life became heavier as his fame rose. He also discussed his issues with mental health and suicidal thoughts. He describes that time as “darker than I ever had been in my life.”
Those thoughts were a wake-up call for him, and he entered rehab at age 32. He says he learned about emotions and coping skills without turning to substances.
Before getting sober while incarcerated in 2014, the rapper attempted rehab once before. During his sentencing, Gucci Mane’s lawyers asked that rehab be part of his deal. At that time, he struggled with an addiction to “lean,” a mixture of cough syrup and soda.
Gucci Mane details his experience in an interview with the New York Times, where he compares withdrawal to death and shares how sticking to a routine, prayer, and self-help books helped him succeed in recovery.
Before he got sober, he told the Times he associated everything with getting high.
Now that he’s clean, he can see that he was a drug addict, but he didn’t always think of himself that way.
Drugs and alcohol can play tricks on your brain, and we don’t see the reality of our situations. Sometimes it takes stepping back, removing the substance, and working on ourselves to see our experience for what it was.
The Bleeding Love singer never liked the taste of alcohol. She’s talked openly about her choice to live alcohol-free and says that she chooses an NA alternative to celebrate her wins. Lewis says she can have a great time without alcohol.
In an interview with InStyle magazine, Lewis said, “I find some people’s attitude to drinking ridiculous. I think it’s so funny that people think you have to drink in order to have fun. It’s such a stupid mindset! A lot of my friends are like, ‘I need a drink to get on the dance floor!’ I don’t need that ‘help me to relax’ thing. If I’m around my friends then I can really relax and have a good time, that’s all I need.”
Budden has been honest about his substance use throughout his career. His struggles with getting clean were documented on VH1’s hit reality show Love & Hip Hop: New York.
The MC told FUSE he started doing drugs at an early age. His first rehab experience was at age 16, and he stopped using drugs and alcohol at age 20.
Budden had a short relapse during the Summer Jam hip-hop concert in 2012. He credits his support system for helping him through that time, which included fellow sober artist Eminem, who has over 14 years of sobriety under his belt.
The singer has spoken openly about doing drugs with other celebrities, including Rick James and Natalie Cole.
Khan has been through rehab three times. “It comes down to you,” she said when talking to VLAD TV about her struggles and overcoming her addictions.
Most recently, in 2016, the singer entered rehab at age 63 along with her sister, both battling prescription drugs. Khan says the death of her good friend, Prince, made her want to change.
Kendrick Lamar has been open about his lifelong choice to live substance-free.
After growing up around substance use and frequent partying, Lamar chose a different route. The rapper has become an advocate and speaks out against glorifying drug use in hip-hop music.
In his book Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter, 50 Cent boasted about the sneaky ways he avoids drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. At parties, when he promotes his liquor brands, he refills the empties with ginger ale and acts like he’s drinking.
“I’ll take swigs now and then just to keep the vibe right, but I’m not drinking anything but Canada Dry,” he says.
Regarding peer pressure to smoke marijuana, 50 says he doesn’t inhale and instead blows out all the smoke. “Bill Clinton has probably inhaled more smoke than me,” he jokes.
In the past, Nicki Minaj has been open about marijuana use, and many of her songs reference drugs and alcohol. But things have changed for the hip-hop star.
Nicki announced her sobriety on Twitter in April 2022 and said she’s “loving life.” Her fans quickly responded and retweeted with messages of support.
Minaj credits motherhood with giving her a new outlook on life and told James Corden on The Late Late Show that motherhood has made her “see more good in people.”
The artist spoke to Converse about his decision to live a substance-free lifestyle. He says, “I just never wanted to drink; it’s just something that didn’t interest me.”
During that interview, he said his personality would not mix well with alcohol. “I just don’t want to be that drunk guy,” he adds. He has been open about his marijuana use as well. He hasn’t had good experiences with the drug and chooses to stay away from it.
Hip-Hop star André 3000 quit smoking marijuana in his early 20s.
During an interview with Vibe magazine, the artist said, “…I actually looked in the mirror and saw myself deteriorating. I was like man we’re doing too much. Way too much.” Sometimes when you know, you know.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substances, know that help is one phone call away. Recovery Unplugged offers personalized treatment programs to fit your lifestyle and schedule, including mental health and virtual programs. Call 1 (855) 975-1757 to get started.
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