'Up until I turned 26, I spent all my time investing in my career. From 26 on, I've invested in me; my spirituality, my recovery, my marriage, my family.'
Four decades into his Hollywood career, Rob Lowe has made a name for himself as an actor, producer, director, and podcaster. While today, his name could be synonymous with success, none of this may have been possible if not for a life-changing decision the star made over 31 years ago: sobriety. The 57-year-old shot to fame as a teen heartthrob at the age of 18 after the 1983 release of "The Outsiders." What followed was years of alcoholism and drug abuse. Reflecting on his struggles with substance abuse at that young age in an interview with Willie Geist on Sunday Today last year, Lowe said: "Nobody's going to do a pity party or have a telethon for all those suffering 18-year-old movie stars, you know?"
The star pointed out that every so often, new stars pop up and represent "that person in the culture" who is going through similar struggles with addiction while in the spotlight. "And there aren't that many people who go through it, and you either come out on the other side of it way, way, way better, or way, way, way worse, I think," Lowe said. He added that while he's "a big believer" in "recovery, sobriety [and] therapy," a crucial element—aside from the availability of resources—is that "you have to want to do it."
"I do a lot of work with adolescents who are struggling with drugs and alcohol and their parents. And that's the thing I always tell them is that, unfortunately, no one can get healthy for their job or for their relationship or because of their court case, or because of Mom or Dad or a sister or brother," said the "9-1-1: Lone Star" actor. "They can only do it when they want to do it. Everyone at some point has to come to terms with their own relationship with drugs and alcohol. I have learned a few things over the years. Whenever I have an opportunity to share that with people, it's very fulfilling to do it."
Lowe also opened up about the impact of sobriety on his life and work for the second edition of Variety's Recovery series, which highlights "insiders from all sectors of the entertainment industry who are managing the disease of addiction and thriving professionally with the help of a wide range of treatment and recovery programs available." Recounting the moment he realized he needed help, the star said: "I wasn't ready until I was ready. I was ready when one day back in the days of answering machines my mother called me and I could hear her voice on the answering machine. I didn’t want to pick up because I was really, really hungover and I didn't want her to know."
"She was telling me that my grandfather, who I loved, was in critical condition in the hospital and she needed my help. And I didn't pick up,'" Lowe revealed. Speaking to PEOPLE about the life-changing moment in a new cover story, the star said: "I remember going into the bathroom, looking at myself in the mirror and my thought process was, 'You need to drink directly from this bottle of Cuervo Gold so you can go to sleep, so you can wake up, so you can deal with this. Out of all the things that had gone on in my life, that was the thing where finally I went, 'This is no way to live.' I went to rehab 48 hours later."
"Up until I turned 26, I spent all my time investing in my career," Lowe added. "From 26 on, I've invested in me; my spirituality, my recovery, my marriage, my family. A lot of it has been, excuse me, f—ing hard. And no one has a perfect life... but I'm grateful for all of it."