18. Elton John

For years, legendary singer-songwriter Sir Elton John struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. He started relying on cocaine to feel more confident and less shy around other people. As his addiction escalated, though, his cocaine use only made him more isolated. He recalls being inspired to stop abusing drugs and alcohol after meeting Ryan White, a teen who had contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion. After White died in 1990, John began to reevaluate his own life. He recalled the ‘80s as a “drug-fueled haze,” and felt guilty about not doing more for people with HIV and AIDS. He regretted not being more of an advocate for people struggling with HIV/AIDS, especially since he was an openly gay man at a time when the gay community was being completely ostracized by society at large. He sought out treatment to overcome his addictions, then committed himself to activism. He founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation to raise money for treatment and prevention programs.

Photo source: Ernst Vikner