“For some folks it’s just a function of age. It’s perfectly normal for people to be obsessive about something for a period of time, then leave it alone.”
Robert Downey Jr said that, in an interview with Vanity Fair in which he gets deeply personal about his highs and lows dealing with addiction. The actor, known for his role as Tony Stark in the blockbuster ‘Avengers’ franchise, as well as Sherlock Holmes, and the hilarious (if politically incorrect) Kirk Lazarus in ‘Tropic Thunder,’ has been open about his heroin, cocaine, and alcohol abuse disorders for many years.
Truthfully, he had no choice; his antics played out on the public stage thanks to paparazzi and his own drug-addled decision making.
One of the most famous events in Downey’s life caused by his alcohol abuse was in 1996 when his neighbors at the time came home to find Downey passed out in their 11 year old son’s bed after a night of binge drinking.
Downey faced media and legal ramifications for the incident, which sparked a media circus and cemented his then reputation as a Hollywood bad boy. But where did it all begin?
Downey has said that his alcohol abuse began at just eight years old, when his father- also an alcoholic- gave him his first taste of the brew. From there he experimented with hard drugs as an escape and to enhance the party- not an uncommon motive in the Hollywood scene.
In 1996 he was arrested for drug possession and sentenced to three years probation which he violated the following year, landing him in jail for six months. 2000 saw another charge for possession and 2001 was his last arrest of being under the influence.
In the same Vanity Fair interview mentioned earlier, Downey gives this powerful quote about his recovery and redemption:
“Job one is get out of that cave. A lot of people do get out but don’t change. So the thing is to get out and recognize the significance of that aggressive denial of your fate, come through the crucible forged into a stronger metal. Or whatever. But I don’t even know if that was my experience. It’s funny: five years ago, I would’ve made it sound like I’m conscious of my own participation in seizing the similarities. But so many things have become less certain. I swear to God. I am not my story.”
After an epiphany sparked by Burger King, Downey finally received treatment for his substance abuse at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, staying on the sober path with the aid of his wife Susan, and their three sons.
Unfortunately, the heretic nature of addiction recently revealed itself in his son Indio, but Robert and Susan acted quickly, getting him into a rehabilitation facility and supporting him entirely.
Robert Downey, Jr’s honesty and sincerity regarding his own battles help perpetuate the conversation regarding the truth about addiction, but that’s not the only way he’s giving back. The video in which he gives a young boy a bionic ‘Iron Man’ arm went viral, he participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and actively supports a dozen charities and causes.
Thousands of Americans have similar stories to Robert’s, and for that he gains a much deserved spot on our list of Inspirational Role Models for the month of November.
Image: “Robert Downey, Jr. SDCC 2014” by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC by 2.0.
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