Business Icons Who Overcame Addiction

Business Icons Who Overcame Addiction

Addiction doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, and financial success doesn’t mean you’re invincible. Anyone can be impacted by drug or alcohol abuse, but recovery is equally as possible for everyone, no matter the severity of their substance use disorders. Today, our South Florida luxury rehab tells the sobriety success stories of five business icons who overcame addiction.


5 Business Icons Who Overcame Addiction

The struggle of addiction isn’t always apparent, especially in celebrities or iconic public figures who take great pains to uphold their reputations. According to the National Institutes of Health, around 20 percent of alcoholics are highly-functioning and well-educated with good incomes.1

Often, these individuals are either in denial about their problem or are simply able to hide it from their family, friends, and coworkers. Just because someone hasn’t hit rock bottom doesn’t mean they aren’t at a low point in their addiction, but just because someone experiences addiction doesn’t mean they can’t be successful in the future.

Below is a list of 5 business icons who overcame addiction and used their newfound sobriety to help others.


Larry Kudlow

Lawrence Alan Kudlow, more commonly called Larry, is an American conservative television personality and program host for the Fox network. You may recognize him from his time as the Director of the National Economic Council during the Trump Administration from 2018 to 2021.

In addition to his business leadership position as the White House Economic Advisor during the Trump Administration, Kudlow also used to work as an economist for Wall Street. However, like other popular business icons, Kudlow had his fair share of problems when it came to drugs and alcohol.

In 1994, when he was working as a financial analyst for investment firm Bear Stearns, Kudlow realized that the years of alcohol and cocaine abuse were catching up to him. In an event hosted by Melania Trump, Kudlow shared, “I was a hopeless abuser of alcohol and drugs. I had tried several times unsuccessfully to get sober. Like a lot of my peers and friends, I went through bloody hell and suffered significant consequences. I was unemployable.”2

Fortunately, the successful business icon entered a 12 Step Program in the mid-1990s to overcome his addictions to cocaine and alcohol. After rehab, he converted to Catholicism and attributes his lasting marriage and sobriety to God and his faith.


Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is arguably one of the most famous women in recovery from addiction. The television host and media mogul has admitted to struggling with substance abuse in the past.

In 1995, Winfrey admitted to struggling with cocaine addiction, revealing that she smoked cocaine in her early twenties while recording a program about recovery from drug abuse. The show dealt with the subject of women who have had problems with drug or alcohol abuse in the past, and four mothers were the guests.

Winfrey’s admission at the time came after one woman, who identified only as Charmaine, shared that she currently smoked cocaine but wasn’t sure if she would consider herself an addict because she was able to function in her daily life.

According to guests Patrice Gaines and Kim Davis, Winfrey cried and told Charmain that she understood her situation, adding, “I did your drug.” Although Winfrey did not mention the drug she was referring to by name, Deborah Johns, a spokeswoman for the show, eventually shared that Winfrey smoked cocaine in her twenties.3

Despite the lack of public knowledge and education on addiction at the time, Winfrey’s admission was received with support. Today, she continues her career as one of America’s most popular talk show hosts.


Austin Geidt

Austin Geidt joined Uber as their fourth employee in 2010 and helped steer the company into the successful place it’s at now. She started as a marketing intern and slowly worked her way through various positions.

After taking on driving operations, Geidt became interim general manager in New York, then led the company’s entry into Paris, Seattle, Boston, Los Angeles, and Melbourne. After this, she built out a new team called Launch and became Head of Launch, a position that allowed her to author and scale the model for Uber’s city-by-city expansion into another 300-plus market, including Europe and Asia.

Geidt’s accomplishments seem all the more successful given the personal challenge she faced with addiction. She was in college when she started experimenting with drugs (she never specified which ones.)

She sought addiction treatment at the age of 19 and was officially sober by her 20th birthday. She shared that it took her a few years to get the hang of a sober lifestyle, but despite the challenges she faced in between, she managed to return to college at 25 and applied to Uber after finishing school.


Sam Polk

Sam Polk is the co-founder and CEO of Everytable, a social enterprise restaurant chain that makes healthy and affordable food. He’s also the founder of Feast, a Los Angeles non-profit organization that offers healthy food and support to people in underserved communities.

But before all of this, Polk, like so many other business icons, struggled with addiction and even an eating disorder. In addition to binge eating disorder, Polk also struggles with drug and alcohol abuse.

In the cusp of Wall Street superstardom, where substance abuse is dangerously common, he walked away from everything to pursue a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. In his memoir For the Love of Money, Polk chronicled the journey of his troubled childhood and up to his struggles with addiction.

Fortunately, following 12 step programming and alcohol addiction treatment, Polk got sober and repurposed his ingenuity in outlets where he contributes to others in need.


Steve Abrams

Steve L. Abrams is an American politician who converted the unmet need he had in addiction recovery into a service for others working towards sober lifestyles. Many people in recovery have trouble changing different areas of their lives to cater to their sobriety, including the way they vacation.

Because alcohol tends to be a common focus of vacationing for many people, Abram wanted to come up with a way to help people who are sober find vacations they can enjoy without the temptation to drink. As a result, he came up with Sober Vacations International, a travel agency that puts together vacation packages for sober people.


Our Drug and Alcohol Rehab for Professionals

The success stories of these business icons who got sober are an inspiration to individuals in work fields related to finance, insurance, investment, mining, and more who are also struggling with addiction. If these celebrities who have overcome drug addiction have proven anything, it’s that no one is immune to addiction, but recovery is equally possible for all.

If you’re searching for executive rehab programs or rehab for professionals, Seaside Palm Beach offers various drug treatment programs in Florida for people with stressful and demanding careers. From medically monitored detox to individual and group therapy sessions with our counselors, you or a loved one will have everything needed to achieve long-term recovery.

Additionally, as a Florida luxury addiction treatment facility, we cater to patient privacy by offering personal pick-up and drop-off options to patients so they may arrive and leave our facility without fear of being followed or watched. As a leader in luxury detox and addiction treatment, Seaside Palm Beach also provides various high-end amenities, so patients who are accustomed to luxurious lifestyles are as comfortable as possible.


For more information about our addiction treatment in Palm Beach, call us today at 561-677-9374.


Related Reading:

Professions with the Highest Rates of Substance Abuse

When the Addict and the Professional are One and the Same



  1. NIH – Researchers Identify Alcoholism Subtypes
  2. NY Post – White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow opens up about battle with addiction
  3. Washington Post – Oprah Winfrey Admits Drug Use

Share this post