Rob Lowe’s 25 Year Recovery Story

Rob Lowe's Recovery (25 Years)

Rob Lowe is an American actor and recovery advocate. Born in 1964, he became known for acting in various teen and adult roles in the 1980s. He was an original member of the Hollywood young brat pack, starring in films such as The Outsiders (1983) and Oxford Blues (1984). His most acting famous role, was the character performance of Sam Seaborn in the TV political drama The West Wing (1999-2003). But arguably his most famous exploits were those performed in real life. Much of them influenced by his addictive tendencies of sex, alcohol and drugs.

Sex Video Controversy

Lowe went to the 1988 Democratic National Convention supporting the then Democratic candidate for President, Michael Dukakis. On one night, he would meet two females at a nearby bar and proceed to take them back to his hotel room for sex. The women would later steal some of Lowe’s money and a recording of their sexual tryst. It come out later that one of the females was only 16 years old.

The video was later leaked and it become one of the highest seen videos in the United States despite the fact that Youtube, or a similar service, didn’t exist. A separate section of the same videotape was also leaked, which showed Lowe in another sexually compromising position, this time with another man and a female model in France.

No doubt some of these revelations influenced Lowe into deciding to become sober at the age of 26. He was first introduced to alcohol by his father at 5 years of age and he remembers tasting it and thinking it was both terrible yet amazing at the same time. He would later vomit on the floor.

Lowe’s Rehab Experience

Lowe in an interview with Oprah Winfrey said that he ‘loved rehab’. He loved understanding the science of addiction, the research, of habit change and dealing and understanding pain associated with being an addict (1).

He has said that he wouldn’t have been able to get sober with simply just attending a 12 Step Recovery Program like some do. He needed to go to the “law school of rehab” to fully recover and start his life sober.

Interestingly, Lowe has said that going to drug and alcohol rehabilitation 25 years ago was a lot different to most rehabilitation centres that offer services today. He wasn’t allowed tv, coffee or writing material. You couldn’t just leave to do a movie or to go to Starbucks. You had to be there and do the work with no outside distractions. This is unlike many rehabs today that allow use of televisions, day outings and work projects.

Prior to attending rehab, he had done very little therapy. He had held onto one drug and alcohol counsellor’s card for more than a year and when he felt ready to recover, he called the number. He has remarked previously that his personality type doesn’t involve being highly organised but he was able to hold on to that card for a year which he finds extraordinary to this day. As if it was meant to be.

Lowe Becoming Sober

Lowe decided to become sober when his relationship with his wife became rocky. Mainly due to his  ‘wild ways‘, he realised in a moment of clarity, that if he wasn’t going to make it work with her he wasn’t going to make it work with anyone else. This contributed to his readiness to start the recovery process.

Similar to Lowe, when Bobby Lee was fired from Mad TV after his drug addiction exploded in front of a live studio audience, literally,  he said that ultimately, he was ready for rehab – and wanted to be sober badly.

In a Larry King interview, Lowe admits that he wouldn’t go back and change the past (2).

Why Lowe Was an Addict

Lowe explains his desire for alcohol and drugs and his addiction, to being born with a feeling of “emptiness(3). He said on an episode of Larry King:

Because for people like me who are in recovery, you are born feeling empty, on a certain level. And you are looking unconsciously or consciously, to fill that. And if you want to be an artist, if you want to be an actor, if you want to be musician, you think: man if i ever make it, it’s going to fix me. So then you make it and it doesn’t fix you. Now what? Hence the drugs, the alcohol” (4).

The fact that he was still trying to fill that void after becoming hugely successfully is a testament to this.

Lowe Today

Rob Lowe went to rehab at 26 and has been clean and sober since. He was awarded by The Brent Shapiro Foundation, The Spirit of Sobriety for being alcohol and drug free for 25 years. He said upon being presented with the award:

“Being in recovery has given me everything of value that I have in my life…..It’s given me a beautiful family and an amazing career. I’m under no illusions where I would be without the gift of alcoholism and the chance to recover from it” (5)

Lowe is a big contributor of both time and money to a charity close to his heart. He lost his mother, grandmother and great grandmother to breast cancer. He is a big proponent of regular mammogram screenings for women as a tool for early detection. Despite his grandmother dying from breast cancer, his mother up until that point had not had a regular screen. She would later die from the same disease. This drives him to promote and encourage regular screenings.

Lowe also contributes to a number of other charities including which supports alzheimer awareness, Elton John’s AIDS Foundation and Habitat for Humanity among others.