Author: Shernide Delva
Robert Downey Jr., the Iron Man we’ve come to love on the big screen, has always been open to the media about his battles with drug addiction. The actor has come a long way from his past struggles.
Personally, Iron Man has to be one of my favorite comic book franchises. It is hard to even imagine that at one point, Downey’s criminal activity and drug use drew more attention than his acting. In June 1996, cops found the actor driving under the influence while in possession of a gun, cocaine and heroin.
A month later, he was found trespassing in his neighbor’s bedroom. He spent a year in prison and checking in and out of rehab clinics. All together, the actor served 15 months and finished his parole in 2002. Downey was able to overcome his addiction and has maintained his sobriety ever since.
Now, his success in recovery is fully being recognized. On Christmas Eve Thursday, California governor Jerry Brown pardoned Robert Downey Jr. for his nearly 20-year old felony conviction. The gesture was largely symbolic as a way to signify how far Downey has come from his past. Now, the star’s criminal record is intact but more importantly, the gesture serves as a public proclamation that Downey has remained out of trouble and demonstrated exemplary behavior.
Looking back, when Downey was arrested, his career plummeted to a new low. Over the last decade; Robert Downey Jr. has made a huge comeback in a variety of box-office successes with franchises such as Iron Man and Sherlock Homes in addition to comedies like Tropic Thunder.
Martial Arts Training Credited for Downey’s Recovery
Downey attributes his success in recovery to his martial arts training. He used martial arts as a tool to overcome his drug addiction and transform entirely. His long time martial arts master, Si-Fu Eric Oram, says that Downey’s rigorous Kung Fu practice was huge in helping him overcome his addictions.
Si-Fu Eric Oram even wrote a letter in support of Downey’s pardon to California governor Jerry Brown. The martial arts teacher, who teaches a form of “Chinese boxing system,” or Wing Chun Kung Fu, first thought Downey was a losing battle. He was skeptical of the actor’s commitment and was reluctant to take Downey in after hearing from rehabs that he was a “hopeless addict” who “would never change.”
However, Robert Downey Jr. was persistent about his desire to recover so eventually Oram took the actor in. After just a few months, the actor became a committed martial arts student who was willing to “rewire his mind and body,” said Oram.
In an interview to Men’s Journal, Oram elaborated on how difficult a case Downey was at first.
“When he first came to me, insurance companies wouldn’t bond him for movies; he couldn’t get roles. I told him if he didn’t show up to a lesson, I was going to chop off his toes and feed them back to him. One day he didn’t turn up, and I told him goodbye. Then he had a couple of producers call me and vouch for him, saying, ‘He was with us in a meeting; he didn’t have a phone. It’s our fault. Don’t cut his head off.’ He has committed himself to it ever since and turned his life around.”
Over the next few years, the two would develop a close bond and Oram has even worked with Downey in 17 films. Furthermore, Oram wrote in the letter that Robert Downey Jr. completely transformed in the decade since his battles with drug addiction.
“It’s difficult to recognize the Robert that stepped into my academy 12 years ago,” he wrote.
On Christmas Eve, in honor of his recovery, California governor Jerry Brown granted Downey a full and unconditional pardon.
Downey continues to complement how martial arts were able to transform his life. He said in an interview that Wing Chung Kung Fu was able to change how he coped with his emotions.
“Wing Chun teaches you what to concentrate on, whether you’re here or out in the world dealing with problems. It’s second nature for me now. I don’t even get to the point where there’s a problem.”
Why Martial Arts Helps in Recovery
Thinking of joining a martial arts program? I know I am. Martial arts are an excellent tool in the recovery process. Some of the benefits of martial arts include.
- Cardiovascular Benefits: Martial arts are an excellent way to stay physically in shape. They benefit almost every part of the body. They can also be more physical benefits in rigorous martial arts such as Muay Thai and Tae Kwon Do.
- Discipline: People who struggle with addiction need to learn discipline. Once you become fully immersed in martial arts, you will find that it takes sacrifice and efforts. In addition, principles learned in martial arts can be applied in other areas of life.
- Self Defense: Martial arts allow you to learn how to defend yourself in emergency situations.
- Confidence: Learning self-love is extremely important especially after years of battling addiction. People who do martial arts gain a greater sense of self by becoming more comfortable in their skin and their ability to defend themselves.
- Humility: Martial Arts allow the ability to be humble. You will no longer feel you have to prove yourself to anyone. You become more aware of your strengths and limitations.
- Spirituality: Individuals who practice martial arts tend to develop both inwardly and outwardly and connect more to a higher power.
Overall, joining a martial arts program is incredibly beneficial. Recovery can sometimes feel like a long journey but learning what tools work for you is ultimately the way to succeed in sobriety. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
By Cheryl Steinberg
When you’ve been to drug and alcohol rehab 4, 5, 7, even 10 times, you might think your situation is hopeless; that you’ll never “get it.” It certainly might seem that way but that’s just not the truth.
You often hear people in the rooms of recovery say they were a “hopeless dope-fiend,” and that now they are a “dope-less hope fiend.” It might get a little old but, it’s a really powerful statement, especially for people who have tried to get clean and sober many times only to relapse again.
If you think you’re destined to be caught up in your addiction the rest of your life, you need to keep on reading.
My experience has been that the most powerful people in ‘the rooms’ are those who were the most ‘hopeless’ of all in their active addiction: the street prostitutes, the ones in-and-out of jail or even prison, the homeless ones, the ones who had been to treatment over and over again. Any of these sound like you? Well, listen up, because these same drug addicts are just as capable of getting – and staying – clean and sober as anyone else.
Treating Addiction: Is anyone hopeless?
It’s fine if you don’t believe me. Just take these next examples into consideration.
There’s the current national drug czar, Michael Botticelli, who is a high-ranking government official – and a recovering alcoholic. Botticelli, in his active addiction, caused a drunken driving accident and subsequently did jail time.
Then there’s the ever-popular, larger-than-life celebrity we know and love: Robert Downey, Jr. Iron Man, himself, who was perhaps most hopeless of all. In his active addiction, RDJ was in and out of jail on drug-related offenses. One time, just hours after he was charged with one drug offense – possession of cocaine and heroin – the actor was arrested on a new narcotics charge when a neighbor found him passed out in her child’s bed, being under the influence of heroin.
Are you a fan of Orange Is The New Black (OITNB)? Well, one of the main characters is played by Natasha Lyonne, a brilliant actress and recovering heroin addict. In the show, Lyonne’s character is also in recovery from heroin and has a scar in the middle of her chest as a testament to the days of her active addiction. The story goes that, as an IV heroin user, the character had contracted a serious infection of the heart, related to her drug use, and for which she needed open heart surgery. This is not mere fiction, Lyonne’s scar is real, and so is her story.
In the past, Lyonne was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, and on a separate occasion was charged of criminal mischief, harassment, and trespassing.
Today, Lyonne is a successful actress and an inspiration to others in recovery.
Multiple Treatment Stays Not an Indication of Failure
Just because you have been to rehab more than once – even more than 10 times – it doesn’t mean that you’re destined to fail. In fact, research shows that treatment in cumulative, meaning that you simply don’t lose what you’ve learned and experienced in your past treatment programs and stints in recovery; it all adds up.
I heard a really good metaphor for this the other day. Say you eat an apple. You experience the taste and texture of this delicious, juicy apple. No one can take that experience away from you. You ate that apple and you experienced your experience. After eating the apple, it’s broken down by your body’s processes and its nutrients enter your bloodstream and then are absorbed by the cells in your body. You can’t undo this process. The apple is now a part of you, on a cellular level. That’s what going to rehab and having some time in sobriety is like – it’s always with you as your past experience. You can add to it and draw upon it at any time.
It’s up to you. You are not hopeless nor are you helpless.
They say that recovery isn’t for those who want it; it’s not even for those who need it. It’s for those who do the work.
Are you seeking treatment for substance abuse or addiction? Have you been in treatment before but feel like you’ve failed because you can’t seem to stay sober or clean? There are treatment centers whose approach is different from the rest. Call toll-free 1-800-951-6135 today to speak directly with an Addiction Specialist who can tell you about our program. We offer holistic treatments as well as spiritual nourishment to supplement your addiction treatment. These include cutting-edge techniques and technologies combined with tried-and-true methods of therapy. You are not alone. Help is available.
It’s no mystery West Hollywood has probably seen its fair share of parties. And it’s sure there is no shortage of celebrity youths living it up, but how much is to blame on the scenery and how much on the genetics? Following his 20-year-old son Indio Downey being arrested on charges of possession of cocaine over the weekend, Iron Man actor and recovering addict Robert Downey Jr. released a press statement in defense of Indio, and admitting how his past struggles with addiction may play a significant part.
“Unfortunately there’s a genetic component to addiction and Indio has likely inherited it. Also, there is a lot of family support and understanding, and we’re all determined to rally behind him and help him become the man he’s capable of being. We’re grateful to the Sheriff’s department for their intervention, and believe Indio can be another recovery success story instead of a cautionary tale,” the 49-year-old actor concluded while speaking on his sons behalf.
Indio Downey’s Arrest
Around 2 pm on Sunday afternoon the celebrity’s son was a passenger in a vehicle when authorities pulled up next to the car and noticed a passenger smoking something out of a pipe according to recent reports from officers in West Hollywood. An L.A. Country Sheriff’s Deputy pulled over the vehicle and allegedly found cocaine in Indio’s possession. The young man was arrested and later that night posted his $10,250 bail and was released from custody. A court date was set for Aug. 29 and even though there were two other individuals in the car, only Downey was arrested.
Stories indicate that Indio had previously struggled with a pill problem and went to treatment, this report itself has not been confirmed, but it would appear that like the star himself Robert Downey Jr.’s son Indio has found himself in a struggle with addiction. Robert Downey Jr. himself had even served some time in jail for his exploits with substance abuse, and he hopes to make his son a success story of recovery.
Privilege of Parents?
The question some would feel this presents is if this is a matter of genetic predisposition to the affliction of addiction or alcoholism, or is it the results of growing up young and privileged in Hollywood? Both of which are fairly reasonable arguments. Indio isn’t the first child of a celebrity to take after the notorious habits of a famous parent in a turn for the worst.
- Kelly Osbourne (daughter of Ozzy Osbourne) – Both suffered from drug addiction, but have since been dedicated to living a clean and sober life.
- Theodora Richards (model and daughter of Keith Richards) – was arrested for graffiti and police found marijuana and other controlled substances in her possession.
- Brawley Nolte (Nick Nolte’s son) – arrested in 2009 on suspicion of driving under the influence in Santa Monica.
These are just a few examples of young people in Hollywood out of the clusters of celebrity kids turned teens or adults who struggle with addiction or substance abuse like their parents. Is this a result of their young and fabulous upbringings? Do these young people develop their addictions as a result of being protected by powerful and popular parents and the spoiled star life? Is it fair to assume that they simply take advantage of the glamour and play the drug game, or is it more of human nature and biology to repeat after our parents history?
The Addiction Gene
It has been speculated that when scientists look for “addiction genes” what they are really looking for are biological dissimilarities that may affect how vulnerable some individuals are to develop an addiction. It may be more difficult for people with certain genes to quit once they start abusing drugs or alcohol, or they might be more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms.
Factors that actually make it harder to become addicted also may be genetic. However it is said someone’s genetic makeup will never doom them to inevitably become an addict. Due to the fact addiction has an inherited component to its development it is true it is passed down in families. That is to say it is possible to be passed down from parent to child by combinations of genes.
But going back to the privilege Hollywood idea, environmental factors are definitely an element that can add up to make an individual susceptible. Not every addict will carry the same gene, and not everyone who carries an addiction gene will exhibit the trait, however the combination of an addictive characteristic in the family heritage and the life-style of the rich and famous can make for a drug cocktail like the media has seen time and time again.
Genetics is not an excuse; it is a factor, but not the reason for addiction. As long as the family of Indio Downey is well aware of the relevance of their son’s life-style and his attitude towards his life of luxury (possibly the lack of consequence in his addiction), there will be some kind of possibility of recovery, especially if his father can steer him in the right direction. It is important to understand the facts about the personal struggles and changes necessary to combat addiction and alcoholism, and hopefully Robert Downey Jr. will be able to share his experience, strength and hope with his son, and spare him the tabloids of another ‘spoiled rich kid’ speculation.
If you or someone you love is struggling from substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
The fall from grace is that much harder when you’re famous. Many, many celebrities have been busted with drug possession and other drug-related offenses. Here are just 10 celebs who were arrested for drug possession.
#1. Fiona Apple
via Getty Images
She’s a singer and songwriter, who’s probably best known for her songs Shadowboxer and Criminal, for which she won the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. Apple was arrested for possession of marijuana and hashish on Sept. 19, 2012.
#2. Robert Downey Jr.
via Getty Images
It’s quite well known that RDJ has struggled with drug addiction and the law quite a lot in the past. Although the actor has been arrested multiple times on drug-related charges that involved cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, today Downey is thriving in his program of recovery and his career.
#3. Snoop Dogg (aka Snoop Lion)
In 1990, was convicted of felony possession of drugs and possession for sale. Snoop was even once on trial facing murder charges but it never stuck. Snoop an avid pot-smoker and advocate, was again arrested two more times in 2012 for possession of marijuana and paraphernalia.
#4. Tom Sizemore
Sizemore was arrested on May 8th of 2007 for possession of crystal meth. This happened while he was already on probation for a previous drug conviction.
#5. Yasmine Bleeth
She’s best known for her Baywatch bod but, at the height of her addiction, Bleeth says she would go on benders where she wouldn’t sleep for up to five days. She went into rehab in 2000 for cocaine and meth addiction. In 2001, Bleeth was arrested after her car pulled off the highway and wound up on a median. Police found four syringes with an injectable form of cocaine in them.
#6. Craig Robinson
Perhaps best known for his role on the hit sitcom and mockumentary The Office, Robinson was arrested on June 29, 2008 for possession of meth, coke, and ecstasy.
#7. Matthew McConaughey
Well known actor McConaughey (Dazed and Confused, Magic Mike, Wolf of Wall Street) was arrested for marijuana possession back in 1999. You can see that it didn’t hurt his career at all.
#8. George Michael
Back in 1988, George Michael shocked his fans when he was arrested for engaging in a lewd act in a Beverly Hills park, and was also busted for possession of crack.
#9. Gary Dourdan
Back in 2008 one early morning, the CSI: Crime Scene Investigation star was found by police passed out in his car in Palm Springs, California. He was arrested on suspicion of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and prescription drugs. Cops found “suspected cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, miscellaneous prescription drugs and paraphernalia” in his possession.
Dourdan was again arrested in 2011 after crashing into two parked cars, at which time he was charged with drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia.
#10. Paris Hilton
via Las Vegas Metropolitan Police/AP
Back in 2010, hotel heiress Hilton was arrested on suspicion of felony cocaine possession.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Being famous and being an addict can be tough. Being famous and being sober is probably in a way, even harder. We hear it said, we have to change “people, places, things” but it’s got to be difficult to do that when you’re a celebrity in Hollywood. After all, in order to do your job, you still have to hobnob with some of the same people, visit a lot of the same places and be a part of the same main thing: Hollywood. And, as we know, addiction is a chronic, progressive, relapsing disorder. That isn’t to say that everyone recovering from addiction will relapse at one time or another but, it’s definitely a stark reality. And having role models who have relapsed but return to a life of sobriety is inspiring indeed. Here are 5 celebs who relapsed but are sober now.
Although Butler quit drinking 15 years ago, he was in rehab just a few years back – this time for an addiction to prescription painkillers. Butler began taking painkillers after an injury while shooting the movie Shattered in 2007. “I started taking more. And I started taking them very quickly.” He says he sought treatment through a rehab before it got too out of hand. Butler has been clean and sober ever since.
Urban has been to rehab three times, for cocaine and alcohol addiction. You do the math; the man has certainly experienced a few relapses along the way. One of which was around the time he met Nicole Kidman but, has been sober for six years now. “The truth is that I wasn’t even aware of where it was at in my life and how it was just going to come down and take me down like it did,” he told Ellen in 2010. “I was probably in such a state of denial that I consciously wasn’t aware of it.”
Robert Downey Jr.
After repeated attempts at rehab, Robert Downey Jr. says he’s been drug-free since July 2003. He credits his family, therapy, meditation, a twelve-step recovery program, yoga and the practice of Wing Chun Kung Fu. Downey is an inspiring role model to many of us in recovery because he was the chronic-relapser type but, today is living a clean and sober lifestyle and is more successful than ever.
After struggling with alcohol and painkillers, Eminem went to rehab and got sober several years ago. He first relapsed within three weeks, and after a month his addiction worse than ever. He says he effectively went sober on April 20, 2008. Eminem calls Elton John a close friend and was mentored by him during this time.
Kelly Osbourne became addicted to Vicodin at the age of 17. After a fourth stint in rehab in 2009, she says she finally feels optimistic about her chances at recovery. “After 30 days, I left rehab. For the first time, I felt hopeful. I knew I’d been given another chance at my life, at my career, at happiness. I wanted to grab it.”
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.