Success may have caused it but wanting to keep success is what helped kick it.
“Crossing the line of fear is what leads to greatness.” — Zac Efron
Many people know Zac Efron as the handsome high school basketball player turned singer in the High School Musical series and David Hasselhoff 2.0 in the remake of that iconic Baywatch a few years ago.
Many people were impressed with the amazing physique that he showed off in that movie, and he got many questions about how he was able to step up to the challenge of co-starring next to a monster of a man in DeWayne Johnson.
He discussed many of the different tactics he used to be successful, but one stood out, as he discussed how he was able to stay so committed to his intense workout plan — He doesn’t drink alcohol.
Now, he didn’t stop drinking alcohol specifically to get in shape for that role, as he has been on the sobriety train since 2014, after a few attempts to quit.
However, it allowed him to stay committed to his 5 am workouts and two-a-days for six days per week so he could hold his own next to the former WWE star.
His decision to give up drinking is a story of warning and inspiration that getting what you want may not always be the best thing. However, if you can learn to cope with issues without alcohol to impair your ability to do so, it can make all the difference in the world.
It has been a story that has been retold over and over. The old adage, “Be careful what you wish for” always comes to mind when you think about all of the Hollywood celebrities who start off their career bright-eyed and bushy-tailed only to turn into hard-core addicts down the road with all the societal pressure of this world.
Zac Efron is no different in that he started drinking heavily as a way to cope with his own success and help him zone out a bit from all of the constant surveillance he was feeling from his stardom.
If he wanted to go for a run, paparazzi were there. If he wanted to grab a bite to eat, paparazzi were there. There was no way he could even consider going on a date with someone without knowing his life was going to be scrutinized.
“It was an overwhelming amount of pressure,” Efron commented about being followed constantly.
At only 19 years of age, being thrust into the spotlight and having people being critical of everything you do would prove difficult for almost anyone, and Zac was not immune.
Similar to how Daniel Radcliffe dealt with his celebrity by drinking to make himself ignore others and feel more comfortable with some many eyes on him, Zach did the same thing.
Couple that with trying to work hard to shed his teen heartthrob title and become a respected adult actor, Zach just felt the pressure was too much.
“I had done films back-to-back-back. I was burnt out,” he said. “There was something lacking, some sort of hole that I couldn’t really fill up. I was just so deep into my work, it was really the only thing I had.”
Zac realized something was wrong and had to change when he came to the conclusion he had lost joy in almost anything other than relaxing on the weekends.
He started to dread Monday mornings and knew that drinking was part of the problem, and he would need to change or it could eventually affect his career.
In early 2013, he began attending AA meetings but said he still struggled to stay sober.
This was the first step for him, and he had a few relapses in which he was not able to keep his commitment.
While Zac hasn’t definitively said what the exact moment or situation was that made him decide that he could no longer do it on his and need more help, there was an incident in 2014 that may have solidified it for him.
That year, he had what was called the L.A. Skid Row Scuffle in which he and a bodyguard got into a fight with a homeless man. The details around the incident seem a bit murky, and no charges were filed against Zac, but the incident made an impression.
Zac describes it as “ the most terrifying moment in my life.”
Shortly afterward, he decided to check himself into a rehab facility.
He had two stints there before being able to completely call himself sober and said the journey was one that needed to happen.
“I mean, you’re in your 20s, single, going through life in Hollywood, you know?” he said in a previous interview with the Hollywood Reporter. “Everything is thrown at you. I wouldn’t take anything back; I needed to learn everything I did.”
Now at 33, Zach Effron has been alcohol-conscious for over seven years and has become a brand new man in Hollywood, respected for acting in several box office hits such as Neighbors, Neighbors 2, and the upgrade on the iconic Baywatch.
“I’m much more comfortable in my own skin. Things are so much easier, ” he said.
Since giving up alcohol took away the crutch Zac was using to deal with the pressures and anxiety of fame, he has turned to exercise and living a more zen life to help him cope with the everyday pressures that may arise.
This has led to him becoming maniacal about his workout and diet regimen and is something he uses to push him to stay sober and become the best possible version of himself.
“What I found is structure. That led me to a balance of opposites. You get out of life what you put in,” said Efron.
Now, instead of getting into altercations with the homeless, Zac is getting his excitement in life from facing his fears in nature and just living in the moment. He decided to join Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates co-star, Adam DeVine for a Tiger Shark swimming expedition as an example.
He also launched his new show, “Down to Earth with Zac Efron” in July of 2020, and in it, he travels the world discussing nature, green energy, and healthy living practices.
The show has been a resounding success with Zac winning his first Emmy and being renewed for a second season, in which it has been speculated that he will focus exclusively on different locations in Australia rather than multiple countries like its first season.
Also, with the remake of Stephen King’s Firestarter and an upcoming thriller known as Gold on the horizon, Efron has continued to keep himself busy to live that life of continual adventure, excitement, and fear chasing.
And while I’m sure giving up alcohol as his supported crutch was an extremely scary proposition to him before he did it, his life, career, and maybe even the world, appear to be so much better for it.