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23 Brilliant People Who Struggled With Addiction 

Celebrity Lists
Updated April 20, 2020 1.9M views 23 items

There have been a surprising number of brilliant people addicted to drugs throughout history.

Some people believe that drugs can open an individual's mind to new ways of thinking, encouraging them to push the boundaries of art, music, and science. For many figures on this list, however, drug addiction and overdose played a tragic role - ending their careers and even their lives. 

Who is the most famous brilliant person who was addicted to drugs? Kurt Cobain is one of the many smart people on this list. The Nirvana musician turned to heroin to cope with both physical and emotional pain. His drug addiction is believed to have been a major factor in his suicide in 1994. 

Astrophysicist Carl Sagan was a regular marijuana smoker and an advocate for the drug as a way to push the boundaries of the mind. Author Stephen King has written many of the best-selling books in recent history. King was addicted to alcohol, cocaine, and Valium, and he often smoked marijuana, as well, before finally getting sober.

As you'll soon find out, many geniuses have struggled with drug addictions.

Thomas Edison is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 23 Brilliant People Who Struggled With Addiction
Photo: Louis Bachrach/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

American inventor Thomas Edison regularly consumed a coke-based elixir called Vin Mariani, which was popular in his era. 

Born: 1847-02-11

Age: Dec. at 84 (1847-1931)

Birthplace: Milan, Ohio, United States of America

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Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 23 Brilliant People Who Struggled With Addiction
Photo: bunkosquad/Michael Femia/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the best-selling authors in history, Stephen King was addicted to alcohol and coke, and used to smoke cannabis.

Born: 1947-09-21

Age: 72

Birthplace: Portland, Maine, United States of America

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Kurt Cobain is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 23 Brilliant People Who Struggled With Addiction
Photo: Julie Kramer/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Nirvana musician Kurt Cobain turned to drugs to cope with both physical and emotional pain, and his addiction is believed to have factored into his tragic passing.

Born: 1967-02-20

Age: Dec. at 27 (1967-1994)

Birthplace: Aberdeen, Washington, United States of America

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Marilyn Monroe is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 23 Brilliant People Who Struggled With Addiction
Photo: Corpus Christi Caller/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Film icon Marilyn Monroe suffered from insomnia and took a variety of sleeping pills to treat the condition, in addition to other prescription medications that she used and abused, often alongside alcohol.

She succumbed to an overdose of barbiturates in 1962.

Born: 1926-06-01

Age: Dec. at 36 (1926-1962)

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States of America

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