Like many other teenage stars or icons, Zac Efron struggled to adapt to life after widespread Disney success. Coping with his own problems, the demands of stardom, and the pressure of being a male icon weighed heavily on the then 25-year-old Efron. Like many stars before him, the young star resorted to drugs and alcohol to help. Though his intentions were to cope, “I clung to it in a way that became a little bit destructive,” Efron admitted to the Hollywood reporter. “I was drinking a lot, way too much…It’s never one specific thing. I mean, you’re in your 20s, single, going through life in Hollywood, you know? Everything is thrown at you.” Efron said his drinking led to cocaine use and using MDMA — the active ingredient in Ecstasy (AKA “Molly”).
In reflection, Efron cited several possible reasons for his drug use, including a complicated relationship with his parents (like many child stars), concerns over his career after Disney and not being able to recreate the success of High School Musical, the challenges of being famous and meeting a romantic partner, being observed continuously by the media, and the demands of his acting career. Efron says that his workload nearly had him living out of his suitcase jet setting from place to place and left him no time for his former hobbies, passions, or friends. As he became even more isolated from people he cared about, he turned to substances as a “lubricant to deal with it all” or perhaps distract him.
Despite these struggles with depression, stress, isolation, loneliness, and anxiety, Efron kept his problems out of the public eye. By all appearances, everything was fine with the former teenage heartthrob. But in 2013, reports began circulating that Efron had checked himself into an outpatient rehab facility. But Efron later said that this was, in fact, his second time in rehab. Apparently, he checked himself into a facility in March of 2013 for a few weeks and got himself off drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, in April 2013, Efron suffered a relapse at the beginning of filming Neighbors. The incident caused him to miss several days of filming.
After relapsing, Efron checked himself into a program and began attending meetings for rehabilitation. As of 2021, the actor is still sober and lives an active, fulfilled life, which he credits to health, fitness, an active lifestyle, a new mindful headspace about life, and transparency about his struggles. Years later, the star says he’s grateful for the mistakes he’s made for leading him to the life he has. “When you have success young, and you accept the good things, you have to accept all of it. You have to accept the moments of glory but also a great responsibility. And that responsibility, to some degree, involves being a role model. At the same time, I’m a human being, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve learned from each one.”