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Actor Rob Lowe Celebrates 30 Years in Sobriety

After a monumental year, actor Rob Lowe has a tremendous achievement to celebrate: He is now 30 years sober.

Recently speaking to Willie Geist on Sunday Today, Lowe reflected on the journey he has taken through sobriety, which began in 1990. In the interview, Lowe recalled to Geist that his substance abuse issues were at their peak when he was just 18 years old.

As a young actor who played a part of the so-called “Brat Pack” in Hollywood, Low acted consistently throughout his late teens and twenties, gaining starring roles in films like St. Elmo’s Fire and The Outsiders. Behind the scenes, Lowe partied heavily, and struggled with heavy drinking.

Working on The Outsiders, Lowe remembered that young actors—some as young as 15 years old—were offered beers when onset. This normalization of drinking culture led Lowe on a path that would result in a severe alcohol dependence, though Lowe has stated that Hollywood was not the cause of his drinking.

“I think [the] people [who] are drawn to Hollywood … are looking to fill something missing in them, and performing does that. But then when you reach the mountaintop, you realize you’re still the same — it didn’t fill you up,” he previously told NPR.

As Lowe rose to fame, he made the cover of tabloids around the world, earning status as a heartthrob from his romantic roles. All the while, Lowe’s relationship with alcohol and substances intensified, and his personal life began to suffer as his judgement became clouded.

In 1988, Lowe’s judgement was called into question publicly when a sex tape featuring Lowe and two women—including one who was underage—was released. This shameful event represented the beginning of “rock bottom” for Lowe, who descended into further alcohol abuse as a result.

Two years later, Lowe recalled an event where he was so intoxicated that he could not respond to his mother’s call, informing him that his grandfather had suffered a heart attack. In that moment, Lowe told UCHealth that he considered drinking a bottle of tequila to avoid dealing with the situation.  After realizing that his thoughts were “the definition of insanity,” he received the wake-up call that convinced him to pursue treatment for his addictions.

Since completing rehab in 1990, Lowe has maintained long-term sobriety, and has gone on to star in dozens more hit shows and movies, most notably including Brothers and Sisters and Parks and Recreation. Through it all, he has served as an advocate for recovery and the work that those who in recovery put forth to create a better life for themselves.

Lowe’s candidness has provided hope to millions, as he often shares his story on his sober “birthday” and in interviews throughout the year. Always careful to note that recovery is not an easy process, Lowe recently stated on Sunday Today that recovery can only begin when the person wants to recover for themselves.

The now 56-year-old actor told Willie Geist, “I do a lot of work with adolescents who are struggling with drugs and alcohol and their parents. And that’s the thing I always tell them is that, unfortunately, no one can get healthy for their job or for their relationship or because of their court case, or because of Mom or Dad or a sister or brother.”

For Lowe, working with adolescents and young people who are struggling hits close to home, as his own son, Johnny Lowe, revealed in 2020 that he is also in recovery from alcohol addiction. At the time, the younger Lowe said, “Two years in and I am more grateful than ever to have a community of support and friends who continue to build me up and hold me accountable.”

Now starring on 9-1-1 Lonestar, Lowe will continue to inspire others with his message that with support, determination, and grace, sobriety is achievable—and that recovery can create a life that is filled with opportunity.

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