Robert Downey Jr. has 20 years of sobriety this year, that is truly what makes him an amazing human, and why he deserves a lifetime achievement award.
It’s no secret that Robert Downey Jr. has had a troubled past. What is less well known, however, is the real reason he is a star. It’s not just his acting talent that has made him one of Hollywood’s biggest names – it’s also his incredible journey to sobriety. Downey Jr.’s battle with addiction began when he was just a teenager. He entered rehab for the first time when he was just 23 years old. Since then, he has been to rehab a total of six times. In 2001, he was sentenced to three years in prison after violating his parole.
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After his release from prison, Downey Jr. made a commitment to sobriety and has been sober ever since. His role in maintaining his sobriety has played a huge part in his career. He has starred in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, including the Iron Man and Avengers franchises. Robert Downey Jr. is celebrating 20 years of sobriety this year, and that is truly what makes him an amazing human being and why he deserves a lifetime achievement award.
Robert Downey Jr.’s Battle With Addiction
Robert Downey Jr.’s battle with addiction began at a young age. He first tried drugs when he was just six years old. In a recently-discovered conversation, Robert Downey Jr.’s late father admitted that he was the one who initially exposed his son to narcotics at such a young age. His father had caught him taking a sip of white wine at a poker game he brought him to, he didn’t take the glass away; instead, he handed him a joint and told him to smoke it. This went on to serve as a bond between the two, as his father was also an addict.
By the time he was thirteen, he was smoking pot on a daily basis. At seventeen, he dropped out of high school. And by the time he was twenty, he was snorting heroin. Downey Jr’s addiction led to multiple arrests for drug-related offenses.
Robert Downey Jr. Was A Functioning Addict
Downey Jr. established himself as a young actor in the mid- to late 1980s while maintaining an ongoing drug and alcohol addiction. He secured movie roles in films like John Hughes’ Weird Science after spending a season on “Saturday Night Live,” and in 1987, he co-starred in The Pick-Up Artist with Molly Ringwald.
[Incidentally, Robert was not the only cast member from SNL doing drugs. It is well known now, that there were (and possibly still are) an endless supply of them backstage. The majority of the drug-related stories from Saturday Night Live revolve around actors like Chris Farley or John Belushi, but impressionist Darell Hammond was the most serious drug user and needed treatment. In addition to using crack and cocaine, Hammond was also cutting himself to try to control the psychotic thoughts he was having.]
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In the same year, Downey also delivered a standout performance as a privileged boy whose life spiraled out of control due to a serious heroin addiction in the movie version of Bret Easton Ellis’ book Less Than Zero. Ultimately, Downey’s life off the screen would start to eerily mirror that character. Up until his arrest for heroin and cocaine possession in 1996, Downey’s career appeared to be on the upswing thanks to his role in the 1992 biopic Chaplin, for which he received an Academy Award nomination.
One of the many unsettling events was a drunk Downey getting lost and stumbling into a neighbor’s home, where he passed out in a bed. Downey was given a three-year prison sentence in 1999 for ignoring court-ordered drug tests, but he only spent a year in Corcoran Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison. Downey was arrested on suspicion of being under the influence in 2001 while on parole after being seen strolling through Culver City, California, wearing just his underwear. He lost his “Ally McBeal” TV part as well as numerous film and theater jobs as a result of that incident. The actor, who was now broke, was told to go to treatment rather than being sent back to prison.
Robert Downey Jr. Has Maintained Sobriety
Robert Downey Jr. has managed to stay sober for 20 years now. That is such a huge accomplishment. Being in the grips of addiction while in Hollywood, then returning to Hollywood and re-establishing himself without turning back; he deserves a lifetime achievement award for that in itself.
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There is a lot to be said about those in active addiction, and it isn’t kind. Not a hope, not a prayer, they are just bad people. Once they get clean and sober everyone wants to be a part of it. Then you hear how brave and strong they are from the same people previously trying to bury them. There is so much people don’t understand about addiction. Robert Downey Jr is an inspiration to many, and his commitment to sobriety is a reminder that it is never too late to turn your life around.
Downey Jr.’s commitment to sobriety is evident in all aspects of his life. Today, Downey Jr is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. He credits his sobriety for much of his success. “Sobriety is a gift,” he said in an interview with ABC News in 2013. “It’s something that I had to work really hard for and that I’m extremely proud of.”