John Mulaney Working to Overcome Addiction

Just like many of us, celebrities all too often fall into the trap of substance abuse. In a 2019 interview with Esquire, comedian John Mulaney detailed his struggle with addiction. “I drank for attention,” he mentioned in the Esquire piece. “I was really outgoing, and then at twelve, I wasn’t. I didn’t know how to act. And then I was drinking, and I was hilarious again,” said Mulaney.

Mulaney checked himself into a rehabilitation facility in late December for struggles with cocaine and alcohol abuse. He initially began drinking heavily at 13 years old and made an eventual commitment to sobriety at 23 years old. Now, at 38 years old, this popular comedian is returning to rehab for his recovery.

John Mulaney has brought laughter and joy to our homes through his Netflix originals, writing for Saturday Night Live, and his appearances on several different talk shows. From “John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid” to his 2017 comedy tour, “Kid Gorgeous,” Mulaney’s humor involving both the profoundly deep and the mundane taps into the essence of what it means to be human. His freshly minted suits and ties beguile his approachable and relatable content. We could all take a few styling tips from Mulaney’s outfits, but also learn from his courage in his personal life right now. To support Mulaney at this time, why don’t we revisit some of his greatest works?

In “The Comeback Kid”, Mulaney details stories from his childhood that bring up fond memories for not only him but also his viewers. In a hilarious recollection of one family road trip, Mulaney describes his father taking a white van full of his four children to McDonald’s only to order a single black coffee for himself. We all got a laugh out of that one.

During the “Kid Gorgeous” tour, Mulaney discussed topics as varied as his marriage, his alma mater, Georgetown, and conversations with his dad about sexuality. He made hilarious commentary on the underworkings of his elementary school assembly and a routine class called “street smarts” with a memorable instructor who represented Chicago’s rougher side. He talked about aging and its associated grumpiness. He joked about his time writing with Mick Jagger on Saturday Night Live. He also mentioned his prior crack/cocaine usage.

His stand up routine further exemplified his comedic brilliance and willingness to be vulnerable.

If you have time, it might be worthwhile to revisit some of his work. It can never hurt to have a few more laughs. His varied content that draws on both his Catholic upbringing and experiences later in life is both relatable and witty. He will charm you with both his dress and sense of humor. 

After that quick trip down memory lane, we can acknowledge Mulaney for his brilliance and immense contribution to society. We all express our deepest support for him on his path to recovery. Mulaney’s struggle with alcohol and cocaine addiction reminds us of some important lessons.

  1. No one is immune to addiction as a biological disease: Even famous people can succumb to this illness and it is our collective responsibility to support ourselves and anyone else struggling with addiction. 
  2. It is never too late to ask for help: Whether you are 38 or 50 or 75, treatment is always an option and provides the opportunity to bring you greater fulfillment in life.
  3. Mulaney sets an example for the masculine side of seeking treatment. He expressed, in that same interview with Esquire, that he began abusing drugs as a way to enter manhood as a man who was never quite good enough for the sports teams. His ability to seek help now is a far better representation of male prowess. 

In any journey through sobriety, there is always the risk of relapse. However, overcoming prior obstacles will prepare you for future ones. As humans, we are imperfect. The journey through recovery is one of trial and error. When circumstance exacerbates a genetic predisposition to disease, we need to lean on our systems of support. As one source detailed, Mulraney will be leaning on his friends he has developed over the past 20 years to get him through this current struggle. Genuine bonds outlast any hardship and the people you need in your life will come out of the woodwork and be by your side.

If you struggle with addiction and have experienced a recent relapse, now is the time to get help. You are not a failure. You are human, just like celebrities like Mulaney.


John Mulaney’s recent admission to a rehabilitation center reminds us that we are all human and can seek help whenever it is needed. This comedian’s commitment to his recovery can serve as an inspiration for others. If you find yourself needing help, there are options for you. At Valiant Living, a men’s-only treatment facility in the beautiful mountains of Denver, Colorado, we provide an immersive, safe environment designed to help you through every part of your treatment, from initial withdrawal to long-term recovery planning. If you are in recovery and have experienced a relapse, we can support you. We will provide the residential option, supportive staff, and expert care to assist you on your recovery journey. The disease of addiction can happen to anyone — we take a non-judgmental stance to care where you can feel comfortable sharing where you are at in your recovery process. If you are looking for the support we can offer you, do not hesitate to reach out at (303) 952-5035.