It seems like Rob Lowe has been acting forever. The fact that he seemingly never ages and is still so good-looking certainly adds to this illusion. If you don’t know who he is, you’ve possibly not been to the movies or watched a television show since the 1980s. Rob Lowe starred in multiple films in that decade, most notably The Outsiders in 1983, St. Elmo’s Fire in 1985 and About Last Night in 1986. These films helped to catapult him into the stratosphere of superstardom, as did the fact that he was known as a member of the Brat Pack. This was a group of hot, young actors and actresses who were all successful in the 1980s, including Emilio Estevez, Demi Moore and Ali Sheedy. Later in his career, he played the literally iconic character of Chris Traeger on Parks & Rec.
Rob Lowe was born in 1964 as Robert Hepler Low in Charlottesville, VA and then later moved to Southern California. He attended Santa Monica High School, where classmates included actors Sean Penn and Charlie Sheen. A fun fact is he has a younger brother, Chad, who is also an actor and was married to actress Hilary Swank. Rob began acting as young as age 15 when he got his first role in the TV series A New Kind of Family. After that he was cast in Francis Ford Coppola’s film, based on S.E. Hinton’s novel, The Outsiders. This is the film that really put him on the map as a heartthrob. His fame escalated to the highest of heights with the many film roles that followed.
The Dark Side of Fame
As Rob became more successful and famous, his addiction to alcohol and sex grew. He has said that even during his teen years alcohol was readily available and part of the lifestyle of being famous. In an interview with Larry King, Lowe explained his addictions by saying, “For people like me who are in recovery, you are born feeling empty…and you are looking consciously or unconsciously to fill that.”
In 1988 a sex tape was released with Rob and an underage girl, which derailed his career. He took a few years off, choosing to retreat to Santa Barbara, CA. A string of events that led him to rock bottom contributed to the realization that he needed to get sober. He shared the details of that journey at a benefit for UCHealth’s Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation. Lowe said that a phone call from his mother about his grandfather’s heart attack went unanswered and unreturned because he was so messed up. He considered drinking an entire bottle of tequila, and would deal with the problem in the morning, but even then understood that was crazy.
While dating his future wife Sheryl Berkoff, he also realized his partying was affecting his relationship with her. He understood if he couldn’t make things work with her, he was never going to make it work with anyone. He made the decision that he was going to need to get help. He had managed to keep the business card of someone who could help him get treatment in his wallet for an entire year. He called and checked himself into rehab, where (he believed) the treatment and 12-step program helped to save his life. Rob shared that he feels rehab also worked for him because he was ready for it and wanted to understand addiction. In an interview with Oprah he said he felt it was like going to law school for alcoholism, and that learning the science of addiction helped it stick for him.
The Scary Health Consequences of Alcoholism
Statistics from The Alcoholism Guide show that those who start drinking before they are 15, as Rob Lowe did, are four times more likely to develop alcoholism compared to those who don’t start before 21. Teens who drink are also more likely to have unsafe sex, and alcohol is considered a gateway drug.
Over a lifetime alcohol abuse creates many problems not only physically, damaging body organs, but mentally as well. Alcohol can have a dangerous impact on the brain, interfering with communication pathways. Alcohol abuse can significantly impact relationships, finances, the ability to function at work, school and at home and can cause death.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
- In 2010, globally, abuse of alcohol was the fifth leading risk factor for premature death.
- Among people between the ages of 15 and 49, alcohol misuse is the first.
- In the age group 20–39 years, about 25 percent of total deaths can be attributed to alcohol.
Rob Lowe’s Secret to Sobriety
It is one thing to go to rehab and get sober, but it is another entirely to stay sober. So what is Rob Lowe’s secret to 25 years of sobriety? In an interview with Extra he said that to get sober, “You can’t get sober for your wife, your husband, your job, court case… you can only get sober for you.” He further explained that he wanted it, and he was ready. That simple moment of clarity for him changed the course of his life for the better. His secret to sobriety is the understanding that to get sober he had to want it and had to want to be in rehab. And in an article in Men’s Health, he also said that the secret to looking great and staying sober is diet and a healthy lifestyle. A combination of these things, as well as continuing to make good choices every day are what keep Rob Lowe looking great and staying sober.
The rewards that have followed his daily choice to stay sober were that he married his girlfriend Sheryl Berkoff, had a continuing and successful acting career, and has two grown sons. He says now that getting sober was the greatest decision he ever made. In another interview with Extra when asked what advice he would give to someone who is struggling with any kind of addiction, Lowe responded, “if you are willing to get honest with yourself, if you are willing to take direction, and if you are truly done, you can get sober and stay sober.” His secret to staying sober is really quite simple: you must want to be sober for yourself and remain dedicated to it every day, take care of yourself and live a healthy lifestyle.