Celebrity Deaths Involving Drugs Or Alcohol
- Elvis Presley
- Michael Jackson
- Heath Ledger
- Mac Miller
- Tom Petty
- Amy Winehouse
- Whitney Houston
- River Phoenix
- Jimi Hendrix
- Jim Morrison
- Janis Joplin
- Chris Farley
- John Belushi
- Philip Seymour Hoffman
- Marilyn Monroe
- Judy Garland
- Anna Nicole Smith
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)
Judy Garland (Sleeping Pills)
Jimi Hendrix (Barbiturates)
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)
Janis Joplin (Heroin)
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:
- oxycodone and hydrocodone, which are opioid painkillers
- alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and temazepam (Restoril), which are benzodiazepines
- doxylamine, which is an antihistamine
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)
Cory Monteith (Heroin & 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)
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:
- acetyl fentanyl and despropionyl fentanyl, which are fentanyl analogs (substances that are chemically similar to fentanyl)
- alprazolam (Xanax) and temazepam (Restoril), which are benzodiazepines
- citalopram (Celexa), which is an antidepressant
River Phoenix (Speedball)
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.
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:
- clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and oxazepam (Serax), which are benzodiazepines
- chloral hydrate, a sedative
- oseltamivir, an antiviral medication
- methadone, an opioid
- unspecified antidepressants
- human growth hormone
Amy Winehouse (Alcohol Abuse)
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.
PBS NewsHour - Column: Marilyn Monroe and the prescription drugs that killed her
PBS NewsHour - Elvis’ addiction was the perfect prescription for an early death
Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy - Drug-related celebrity deaths: A cross-sectional study
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