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  • Throughout the years, many famous people have struggled with drug abuse and addiction. For some, these struggles led to a fatal overdose. Here are some of the most well-known celebrity overdose deaths

    John Belushi (Speedball, Cocaine & Heroin)

    John Belushi was a comedian, actor, and musician. He was best known as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live. In 1982, he died of an accidental overdose involving a speedball (a mixture of cocaine and heroin).  

    Chris Farley (Cocaine & Morphine)

    Chris Farley was a comedian and actor known for his work on Saturday Night Live and films like Beverly Hills Ninja and Tommy Boy. In 1997, he fatally overdosed on cocaine and morphine

    Judy Garland (Sleeping Pills)

    Judy Garland was an actress and singer best known for playing Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz. She died in 1969 after accidentally overdosing on barbiturates (sleeping pills). 

    Jimi Hendrix (Barbiturates)

    Jimi Hendrix was a guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is considered one of the most influential musicians of all time. In 1970, he died of a barbiturate overdose

    Whitney Houston (Cocaine)

    Whitney Houston was a singer and actress who became one of the best-selling music artists in history. In 2012, she died of an accidental drowning that medical examiners linked to heart disease and cocaine use

    Michael Jackson (Sedatives, Ativan & Propofol)

    Michael Jackson was a singer, songwriter, and dancer known as the “King of Pop.” He died in 2009 of an accidental drug overdose involving lorazepam (Ativan) and propofol, which are both sedatives. 

    Janis Joplin (Heroin)

    Janis Joplin was a singer and musician who became one of the most successful female rockers of her time. She died in 1970 of an accidental heroin overdose

    Heath Ledger (Opioids, Benzodiazepines, & Antihistamines)

    Heath Ledger was an actor known for movies such as Brokeback Mountain and The Dark Knight. He died in 2008 of an accidental overdose involving the following drugs:

    Mac Miller (Cocaine, Alcohol, & Oxycodone-Laced Fentanyl)

    Mac Miller was a rapper who often wrote lyrics about his substance abuse problems. In 2018, he died of an accidental overdose. According to toxicology reports, his death involved cocaine, alcohol, and counterfeit oxycodone pills laced with fentanyl

    Marilyn Monroe (Barbiturates)

    Marilyn Monroe was an actress, singer, and model who became a major movie star in the 1950s. She died in 1962 of a barbiturate overdose. Her death was ruled a probable suicide. 

    Cory Monteith (Heroin & Alcohol)

    Cory Monteith was an actor best known for his role in the television series Glee. He died in 2013 of an accidental overdose involving heroin and alcohol

    Jim Morrison (Heroin)

    Jim Morrison was a singer, songwriter, and poet known as the lead vocalist for The Doors. He died in 1971 of a suspected heroin overdose, though his official cause of death was listed as heart failure. 

    Dolores O’Riordan (Alcohol Abuse)

    Dolores O’Riordan was a singer and songwriter known as the lead vocalist for The Cranberries. In 2018, she died of accidental drowning due to alcohol intoxication

    Tom Petty (Fentanyl)

    Tom Petty was a musician known as the lead vocalist and guitarist for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. He died in 2017 of an accidental overdose involving the following drugs:

    River Phoenix (Speedball)

    River Phoenix was an Oscar-nominated actor known for films such as Stand by Me and My Own Private Idaho. In 1993, he died of an accidental overdose involving cocaine and heroin.

    Elvis Presley (Opioids)

    Elvis Presley was a singer and actor known as the “King of Rock and Roll.” In 1977, he died of a heart attack that was probably linked to his prescription drug addiction. 

    A toxicity report revealed he had ingested very large amounts of the opioids codeine, hydromorphone, meperidine, and oxycodone

    Prince (Fentanyl)

    Prince was a singer and songwriter known for songs like “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry.” In 2016, he died of an accidental overdose after ingesting counterfeit hydrocodone pills laced with fentanyl

    Philip Seymour Hoffman (Cocaine, Heroin, Benzodiazepines, & Amphetamines)

    Philip Seymour Hoffman was an Oscar-winning actor known for movies such as Capote and The Talented Mr. Ripley. He died in 2014 of an accidental overdose involving cocaine, heroin, benzodiazepines, and amphetamines

    Anna Nicole Smith (Benzodiazepines, Opioids, & Antidepressants)

    Anna Nicole Smith was a model and actress. She died in 2007 of an accidental overdose involving the following substances:

    Amy Winehouse (Alcohol Abuse)

    Amy Winehouse was a singer and songwriter known for songs like “Rehab” and “Back to Black.” After battling addiction for many years, she died of alcohol poisoning in 2011. 

    If you or someone you love struggles with drug use, please reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. Our substance abuse treatment programs offer personalized, evidence-based care to help you or your loved one become drug-free.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on October 20, 2022
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