Whether it’s safe to drink seems more confusing now than ever, but these stars have made a conscious decision to forgo beer, wine, and spirits.
Alcohol is synonymous with celebrations: toasting at weddings, cheersing a coworker’s promotion, and pouring a glass of wine or beer to cap off a long week.
But those who enjoy a drink every now and then may not have much to celebrate. A study published in September 2018 in The Lancet suggests there’s no safe amount of alcohol to consume. Alcohol may increase the odds of certain cancers, per a December 2017 review published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, and other diseases like tuberculosis, according to a July 2017 review published in the European Respiratory Journal. Not to mention that drinking puts people at a higher risk for car accidents and other injury-related dangers, according to a study published in 2015 in the journal Substance Abuse.
The debate, though, doesn’t end there. The Lancet study took into account large swaths of populations from around the globe, so the conclusions generalize and don’t highlight that some subgroups who do appear to benefit from a small amount of alcohol, says David Katz, MD, MPH, the founder of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Connecticut. For example, a study published in March 2017 in BMJ shows moderate alcohol consumption can indeed correlate with health perks such as better heart health. Another study, in February 2016 in Nutrition, found that alcohol may offer beneficial antioxidants, like the resveratrol found in red wine.
On top of that, moderate drinking is a part of the healthy Mediterranean diet, which only complicates the controversy, especially as Spain, a Mediterranean country, is expected to take the top spot as the country with the longest life expectancy by 2040, a study published in October 2018 in The Lancet shows; meanwhile, Italy, a country whose residents are known for their love of wine, took the sixth spot.
“For people who enjoy alcohol and don’t have a family history of cancer or liver issues, it’s fine to carry on with the CDC-recommended one drink per day for women, and two drinks for men,” says Marisa Moore, RDN, a dietitian based in Atlanta. At the same time, if you are not a drinker, she says you certainly don’t need to start. “There are many ways to improve your heart health, like eating nutritious food and exercising. You don’t have to rely on alcohol for better heart numbers,” Moore adds.
Another issue: Some people have a hard time sticking to one serving of alcohol, which is a 5-ounce (oz) glass of wine, a 12-oz beer or a 1.5-oz pour of liquor. (3) Go over that limit in a sitting, and you could miss out on any benefits, not to mention jeopardize your health, says Moore.
“Pay attention to the size of your glass — it’s easy to over-pour with the large, balloon-shaped wineglasses,” says Moore. She also recommends keeping water next to your wine or beer glass, and alternating sips so that you pace yourself.
Still, if you’re interested in going cold turkey and quitting alcohol entirely, you may have the right idea, especially if you were drinking above a moderate level. “You’ll take in less sugar, fewer carbs, and fewer calories, and may even reverse liver damage [if present],” says Kaleigh McMordie, RDN, the founder of LivelyTable.com, based in Lubbock, Texas. McMordie says that many people who have alcohol issues tend to have deficiencies in vitamins B1 and B2, as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate (to name a few) because they’re not taking in as many nutrients — noting that alcohol can blunt your appetite and impair nutrient absorption. Thus, says McMordie, forgoing alcohol may help heavy drinkers get more of the nutrients they need.
What’s more, alcohol disrupts sleep, according to a study published January 2015 in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. “You might want to consider quitting if you’re having trouble nodding off,” says Moore. “It’s a vicious cycle — drinking at night can lead to poor sleep, which may make you irritable, and that can lead you to make poor food choices, not to mention give you an urge to drink more alcohol to cope with stress, which thus affects your sleep again.”
As celebrities are always ahead of the curve, it comes as no surprise that a fair number of stars have opted out of imbibing. Some famous faces have never had beer, wine, or liquor, while others have decided to forgo booze later in life. Here, 11 celebrities who have ditched alcohol, and why they decided to make the bold move.
1. Rumer Willis
Back in July 2017, Willis posted on Instagram that she was six months sober — surprising the public, many of whom assumed that meant the eldest daughter to Demi Moore and Bruce Willis had a substance abuse issue. She then told People, “My decision to become sober wasn’t out of a need necessarily, it was more just that I did ‘sober January’ and I just decided to keep going.” She even saw news segments on her sobriety, one claiming she had secretly struggled with intense addiction, and kept it hidden. “I’ve kept it hidden because there’s nothing [to hide],” Willis also told People.
2. Lucy Hale
Hale moved to Los Angeles at age 15, and after landing her role as Aria Montgomery in Pretty Little Liars in 2010, Hale fell into the Hollywood scene. “I tried really hard to be the social butterfly,” she told Byrdie in a 2017 interview. Now that the show has wrapped, Hale has taken some time for self-discovery, telling Byrdie, “I’m almost 28, but … I think I only just figured out who I was a year ago.” Part of that discovery included giving up alcohol; she has no interest in the party life anymore, preferring nights at home with her dog, and time spent with good friends. “I’m just always trying to surround myself with better people and be the best version of myself possible,” says the actress and singer.
3. Dax Shepard
Back in September 2018, Shepard celebrated 14 years of sobriety, and his wife, Kristen Bell, posted a tribute to her husband on Instagram, writing: “I know how much you loved using. I know how much it got in your way. And I know, because I saw, how hard you worked to live without it.” Shepard opened up in a SiriusXM radio interview, saying the reason for his addiction to drugs and alcohol may have been due to a childhood trauma; he was molested by a neighbor when he was 7 years old. Bell is outspoken about what her husband has been through, saying to E! News, “Seeing the world through his eyes has really opened mine to knowing that it is a disease and nobody is choosing to drink more than others.”
4. Blake Lively
Even though Lively’s character Serena van der Woodsen on Gossip Girl did her fair share of imbibing, Lively’s real-life diet is different. “I don’t drink. I’ve never tried a drug,” the actress told Allure. The reason for her opt-out? “It’s not like I decided on these strict lifestyle choices and I’m enforcing them. It’s just something that I genuinely don’t have a desire for,” she also said in the Allure interview. That’s not to say Lively doesn’t support her husband, Ryan Reynolds, who bought a stake in Aviation Gin this year; she recently posted a picture of herself on Instagram with a bottle of it, along with the caption, “I don’t drink, but when I don’t, it’s always @aviationgin.”
5. Bradley Cooper
Though Jackson Maine, Cooper’s character in the hit film A Star Is Born, struggles with alcoholism and addiction, Cooper is now sober in real life. It hasn’t always been that way. Turns out that early in his career Cooper struggled with drugs and alcohol, and decided to confront the issue when he was 29 because it was affecting his work, according to an interview with GQ. “If I continued it, I was really going to sabotage my whole life,” he told the magazine. Cooper’s period of drying out led to more roles, ultimately helping him become the leading man he is today. “The one thing that I’ve learned in life is the best thing I can do is embrace who I am and then do that to the fullest extent, and then whatever happens, happens,” he said in the GQ interview. “The more steps I do to not do that, the farther I am away from fulfilling any potential I would have.”
6. Zac Efron
Constant attention by the press pushed the Baywatch star into drinking and drugs, Efron has admitted. In an episode of “Running Wild With Bear Grylls,”the High School Musical actor opened up: “If you’re leaving your house to go to the grocery store, there will be press there. It can be everywhere and it can be confusing.” This led him to feel trapped. “You spend a lot of time in your house, going crazy, and pretty soon you need a social lubricant.” He explains he then felt that he needed alcohol to go anywhere. After receiving treatment, though, Efron has been seeing the benefits of a sober life. “What I found is structure. That led me to a balance of opposites: You get out of life what you put in,” he said in an interview with Elle.
7. Yvonne Orji
In real life, Yvonne Orji is totally different from her character Molly Carter on the hit HBO series Insecure. As Molly, 33-year-old Orji plays a millennial lawyer navigating career, sex, love, and friendship alongside her costar and the creator of the show, Issa Rae, who plays Issa Dee on the show. While Molly is often wined and dined by her many suitors, Orji, who isn’t married, reportedly abstains from alcohol (along with sex) to adhere to her strong Christian faith, according to the New York Post. The Post says these differences tend to shock unknowing fans, but for Orji, the lifestyle choice to skip booze is natural. “My faith has really been the biggest asset of my career,” Orji told the Post. “It has grounded me and let me focus on what’s important.”
8. Joe Manganiello
It’s safe to say that Manganiello’s character in Magic Mike is nothing like who Manganiello is off-screen. The actor, who attended the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, beat an addiction at a young age, and now lives a sober life, according to an interview in Haute Living. This year, Manganiello won a Spirit of Sobriety Award, celebrating his 16 years living alcohol-free. In his acceptance speech, he described his early struggle. “When I was growing up, when I thought of an alcoholic, I thought of some toothless old guy in a trench coat in a basement somewhere,” he said. “That type of stigma kept me from getting the help that I needed when I knew I needed it.”
9. Jennifer Hudson
“I’ve never had a drink in my life. I’m sober,” she told the host. “I’ve never been interested. Nobody ever believes it.” Hudson played a heroin addict in the movie The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete. In order to effectively play her character, she needed to do a lot of research. “Normally as an actor, you have things to pull from. I was like, ‘I don’t know what it’s like to feel any of that,’” Hudson revealed to Handler. She ended up spending time with ex-addicts at a rehabilitation center to better understand what it feels like to struggle with drugs and alcohol.
Sia told James Corden on The Late Late Show about her addiction struggles before she became the household name that she is today. “I was a singer already for like 10 or 11 years to mediocre success, and I was an alcoholic and a drug addict.” Sia sobered up, and decided that if she was going to continue to be in the music industry and stay healthy, she wanted to go incognito. “I thought what doesn’t exist in pop music at the moment? And it was mystery,” Sia told Corden, explaining why she wears her signature wigs. In September 2018, she hit a major milestone, tweeting, “Eight years sober today. I love you, keep going. You can do it.”