Author: Justin Mckibben
This past Tuesday, Academy Award-winning actor, screenwriter and producer Ben Affleck made a powerful and inspiring announcement to his fans and friends via social media. Since then the internet has lit up with articles and insights on how this public admission could be seen as a heroic moment to so many people all over the country.
Ben Affleck has the honor of being the new face of Bruce Wayne, bringing the Batman to life in the most recent installments to DC’s feature films. So he is no stranger to the role of a hero with a dark past.
Being open and honest with the world Affleck publicized he had completed treatment for alcoholism, and so many in the recovery community and advocates for addiction have found it as a beacon… or “BAT SIGNAL” if you will… (I will)… for all those struggling to overcome the stigma and see they are not alone.
In an emotionally-charged note to his fans, Ben posted on Facebook stating:
“I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step. I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.”
This is also not the first time Affleck has done battle with alcoholism. The 44-year-old actor has faced his own alcohol addiction in the past, while his childhood was also impacted by the influence of alcoholism on his father.
Alcoholism in the Family
In 2012 Ben Affleck did an interview with Barbra Walters discussing his parent’s divorce when he was 12 years old. During the interview Affleck stated:
“[My father] was an alcoholic… I did know that as a child. He drank a lot. My father was a — what did they call him — a real alcoholic. He, you know, drank all day, drank every day, and to his credit, he got sober ultimately,”
“He’s been sober for several decades, which I think is pretty impressive.”
At this time he credited his brother and his closest friends, including Matt Damon, of helping him through a difficult childhood. After Ben Affleck earned his place in Hollywood for his work with Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting in 1997, he gave up drinking at 24-years-old.
Ben Affleck’s First Time in Rehab
In July of 2001, Ben Affleck completed a 30-day residential rehabilitation program for alcohol abuse. But this experience didn’t seem to convince Affleck at the time he was in danger of real alcoholism. In a 2012 statement, he had said,
“I went to rehab for being 29 and partying too much and not having a lot of boundaries and to clear my head and try to get some idea of who I wanted to be.”
Not saying it wasn’t an important experience, but this statement seems to lean closer to the ‘I’m not as bad as some people’ line.
In 2004, Ben Affleck married Jennifer Garner, his co-star from another comic hero film Daredevil. Sources at the time said Affleck’s new married put a halt on all the hard partying. Batfleck began to settle down and start up a family. The two were later blessed with 3 children: Violet, age 11, Seraphina, age 8, and Sam, age 5. Affleck says,
“I think becoming a father makes you see the world differently and it’s good.”
However, Jennifer and Ben did eventually split in 2015. Still, early reports are indicating Jennifer is an important part of Ben’s current path to sobriety.
While Ben Affleck has been more private about his time in rehab this time around, speculation began when Batfleck was spotted with woman while out and about in Los Angeles that a source later told ET was actually a sober coach Ben had been working with named Elizabeth Weaver.
Other sources have indicated to ET reporters that while Affleck no longer works with Weaver, he was supported by another sober companion while showing up to the 2017 Oscars to support his brother Casey Affleck who won Best Actor.
Looking forward a bit, it’s interesting that the next Batman solo movie starring Ben Affleck is also set to star Joe Manganiello as the infamous villain Deathstroke. Joe Manganiello has also had his struggles with alcohol. In a past interview Manganiello stated,
“My life was ruined. I was homeless, careless and broke with no career.”
The former “Magic Mike” and “True Blood” star has been sober over twelve years! In a 2015 interview Joe Manganiello said his sobriety was “very close to [his] heart.” With him starring as a rival assassin and all out bad mofo in the next Batman against Affleck, one has to wonder if a sober bro-mance might blossom between the two Hollywood action heroes.
Heroes and Alcoholism
One inspiring aspect of all this is that it not only gives us a reason to see past the stigma of alcoholism and addiction, but it also makes those who suffer feel more connected to the people who they may look up to; more connected to their heroes.
In fact, I remember watching Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne in the recent Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice movie. In one scene Bruce Wayne wakes up, fighting back his nightmares, and reaches to a nightstand cluttered by wine bottles to get a bottle of pills. Moments later his butler Alfred Pennyworth, played by the amazing Jeremy Iron, even comments on hoping:
“- the next generation of Waynes won’t inherit an empty wine cellar.”
I related in a big way to the idea even Batman is drinking and popping pills to escape. As a recovering alcoholic and lifelong Batman buff, I felt connected to a feeling I believe is unspoken but relevant to the character, the actor, and the reality of addiction.
It’s almost ironic to me, looking back. To see a well-known and highly celebrated actor like Ben Affleck play my lifelong hero, and in the midst of critical divisiveness over his recent projects still have the strength to speak out about his hardship with alcoholism and the love of his family getting him through, it’s an interesting sense of empathy. Again, when his post says,
“… I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step…”
That is a strong statement. Batfleck has put himself out there with solidarity and compassion for those who are struggling with alcoholism and addiction. He may not be the first, but he is still a pretty prominent voice in Hollywood today, and that means something. He wants his own kids, and everyone else, to know they should never be afraid to ask for help.
A big piece of this we can all appreciate is that when successful professionals, artists or family-oriented individuals take a public approach to acknowledging addiction, it gives us all another perspective. Those on the outside looking in can see it in the men and women they admire. Their peers can be inspired to take a similar stand on self-improvement and raising awareness. Batman himself has said,
“I have one power. I never give up.”
Bruce Wayne is a man who dedicated himself to being a symbol. Ben Affleck is a man who has struggles and is choosing to have a voice. If more of us chose to have a voice, to take a stance and not give up, we could help others still who don’t know there is a choice.
It can be surprising to see so many successful people are recovering alcoholics and addicts. Sometimes we don’t realize our favorite artists and actors have dealt with something so difficult to get through. The more heroes we have every day that step up and share their message of hope, the more hope we may have that people seek the help they desperately need. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Thomas Alan “Tom” Waits is a celebrated American singer-songwriter with a distinctive voice so growly with grit it’s strangely smooth and somehow conceptually classic. He is also a composer who has worked on several movies and musicals, not to mention an awesome actor. Born in December of 1949 Waits has even been nominated for various awards including an Academy Award for his soundtrack work on One from the Heart, and has even been awarded Grammy Awards for two albums, all while being listed in 2010 by Rolling Stone magazines 100 Greatest Singers.
While his name may not be as known as it should, you probably would know his face. What might not be common knowledge is Mr. Waits is also sober, and has openly discussed his sobriety, as well as the struggles it took him to get there. While we honor this multi-talented and noteworthy artist, let us take a closer look at the living legend and his path to recovery.
One thing consistent in his conversation is the fact his experience has shown his creative can survive in sobriety, which means the world to a lot of us more obscure folks.
Back in 2006 Tom Waits did an interview talking about his life, his loving wife, and the trials and turmoil leading to his recovery. That year he was 14 years sober, so if you’re doing the math that means he would be 23 years sober this year! Over 2 decades of a dramatic life shift has taken place, and he is more than willing to talk tactics and relationships.
During his 2006 interview Waits stated,
“Oh you know, it was tough. I went to AA. I’m in the program. I’m clean and sober. Hooray. But, it was a struggle.”
When asked if he missed the drinking days, Tom Wait’s honesty was in no short supply either.
“Nah. Not the way I was drinking. No, I’m happy to be sober. Happy to be alive. I found myself in some places I can’t believe I made it out alive.”
And then of course there was the question of how taking drugs and alcohol out of the equation might have hindered his creative process, and what it meant to work as a genuinely irregular genius. If you’re an alcoholic like me, you might get a warm fuzzy feeling or familiarity at his response.
“No. I don’t think so. I mean, one is never completely certain when you drink and do drugs whether the spirits that are moving through you are the spirits from the bottle or your own. And, at a certain point, you become afraid of the answer. That’s one of the biggest things that keeps people from getting sober, they’re afraid to find out it was the liquor talking all along.”
“I was trying to prove something to myself, too. It was like, ‘Am I genuinely eccentric? Or am I just wearing a funny hat? What am I made of? What’s left when you drain the pool?”
Waits even gave some credit of his sobriety to the wonders of the intimate relationship he built with Kathleen Brennan, a scriptwriter he met in 1978. Kathleen has become his companion and collaborator for over two decades now,, with the two of them sharing three children, Casey, Kelly and Sullivan.
When Tom Waits was once asked what his wife brought to the table, he replied, ‘Blood and liquor and guilt, ‘ so when he says that Kathleen saved his life, he means it quite literally. When asked about if she inspired his recovery Tom said,
“Oh yeah, for sure. But I had something in me, too. I knew I would not go down the drain, I would not light my hair on fire, I would not put a gun in my mouth. I had something abiding in me that was moving me forward. I was probably drawn to her because I saw that there was a lot of hope there.”
For a man who built a life around a brand of music with the feel of bad news, bourbon, bullets and bar-stools reaching back to a time of blues and rock and roll in its rawest form, it seems it can feel out of place and obscure in modern age. But Tom Waits for no man to validate his victory ballads for the broken and beautiful.
When asked again about his sobriety and his comments on the contribution it made to his music in 2011, Tom Waits stated,
“I think maybe when you drink, you’re probably robbing yourself of that genuine experience, even though it appears what you’re doing is getting more of it. You’re getting less of it.”
It’s pretty awesome to hear this kind of conscientious chatter from a guy infamous for a crude image of the old school drunk. To get an honest and open feel for a man who has done all he can to beat to his own booze-free good-old-boy style drum. The opinion of sobriety being an essential element to his most real expression of being eccentric and creative is inspiring, especially to someone who has also feared losing touch with a more talented or unique self without substances.
Rock on Tom… you amazing weirdo!
Celebrating recovery isn’t just a famous people thing. Every day people all over the country celebrate their renewed life through recovering from drugs and alcohol thanks to a program of action that often begins with the commitment to make a change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Photo Via: http://commons.wikimedia.org
Author: Justin Mckibben
Have you ever seen a movie with the characters Jay and Silent Bob? If not, go watch one right now… don’t worry, I’ll wait… RIGHT?! How awesome was that?!
“Ladies, Ladies, Ladies, Jay and Silent Bob are in the hizzouse!”
All jokes aside, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the hysterically funny actor Jason Mewes, he has a face that is synonymous with pop culture. The man is a comedic cinema icon, and has been part of a lengthy list of films and media including:
- Chasing Amy
He has been a feature in all films made by Kevin Smith, who plays the other half of his dynamic duo ‘Bob’, while Jason himself plays ‘Jay’. As the more vocal half in the Jay and Silent Bob partnership, he has come to define the fast-talking and all imaginative “marijuana-enthusiast” character known for snatching the spotlight in every scene he was in.
Jason is not only a 20-year film veteran with 81 acting credits in his filmography, he is also a man committed to his craft… and his recovery.
Jays Sober Journey
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is infamous as a cult classic, and Jason’s first movie, Clerks, set the standard for independently produced films. Besides doing voice-work for cartoons and video games he is on the road continuing the successful podcast he started with Kevin Smith called “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old.”
He is also very honest and open about his struggles with drugs, admitting that when bored comes his cravings can set in, and now-a-days it seems he as busy as a guy could take.
The irony here is Jason made his name as an actor playing a stereotypical “stoner!” The character of Jay is a drug dealing clown who hangs outside malls and fast-food spots all day selling weed to kids, but the man behind the funny guy is actually clean and sober.
Jason has been pretty public since his recovery about his struggles with heroin addiction and in a recent interview with The Fix, Jason admitted:
“Right around 21 is when I tried opioids for the first time. It’s in my family, I was born addicted to heroin. My mom was a heroin addict. My sister is a drug addict, my brother is a drug addict. It’s in the blood and in the genes.”
“I tried the opioids when I knew it was bad news. At that point, I had done Clerks, Mallrats, and Drawing Flies which is an independent film, and Chasing Amy. That’s what I wanted to do at that point and I feel like the drugs really hindered me.”
Kevin Smith entered Mewes into the first of a series of drug rehabilitation clinics in 1997, which would be the beginning of a back and forth battle with substance abuse.
In 1999 Mewes was arrested in New Jersey for heroin possession, and was sentenced to probation including:
- Community service
- Drug counseling
- Regular court appearances in New Jersey
In late 2001, after he failed to make a court appearance, a warrant was issued for his arrest. After the death of his mother in 2002 as a result of AIDS, he surrendered himself at a Freehold, New Jersey court and pleaded guilty to probation violation charges in April of 2003. He was ordered to enter a six-month rehab program, but that was also not his last stay in treatment. He ended up going back and forth for a few more years, even bumping into an old friend Ben Affleck who at the time was in rehab for alcoholism.
Further on during the interview when discussing his history with drug use, Jason talked about how drugs had hinders the normalcy of life that was supposed to come with growing up, and about how at one point he didn’t like what he did, and was just doing movies to get up and go in the morning.
Later in that interview when asked about maintaining his sobriety over time, Jason stated:
“To me, it’s really just about being honest and surrounding myself with people.”
“I didn’t want to share with people, or let people know, even though people did know. In my head, and being all messed up, I thought people didn’t know because I thought it would mess up my chances of working. Again, it was obvious, I was like 140 pounds and I was a mess, but every day the podcast is a big help. Surrounding myself with people that are good and just being honest with myself.”
In the past Jason reportedly recounted his bottom hitting after waking up on Christmas morning 2003 to find that he had started a fire after falling asleep near a lit candle while on heroin. Mewes returned to New Jersey, where he was given the choice of attending 6 months of court-mandated rehab or a year in jail.
In a July 2006 interview he reported that he was sober, and harbored no urges to drink or use drugs, but he relapsed in 2009 after having surgery.
Jason expressed that keeping himself accountable to others is a huge part of his program, and that he is tempted at times so he resorts to sharing his thoughts and feelings with those closest to him and telling on himself before anything happens to stay accountable to those around him.
Beyond that he spoke about how his work was a big part of his sobriety, and how important it was that he commit to it. When talking about his podcast and the roll it played in his sobriety, he said:
“I just feel like that has been a big difference for me being honest with everyone who listens to the podcast. I’ve been really accountable. I go into a Starbucks and someone will be like, “Hey man, I listen to your podcast. How many days do you have sober?” I’m literally accountable to all these people and out of the blue someone could ask me.”
However he has apparently been clean since June 28th, 2010.
Asked in a recent interview how long he was clean Jay responded with a resounding 1785 days! That is huge for a guy who got famous playing a guy who seemed like he was stuck on drugs for life. Sometimes you hear the term ‘chronic relapser’ and think ‘how hopeless can it get?’ Well the fact that a guy who plays one of the world’s biggest pot-heads in movies has been sober nearly 5 years is amazing, and if you’re wondering if it’s possible, ask this dude!
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Sometimes the people you least expect can carry a powerful and positive message about how even though addiction held them back, recovery changed their life. A life in sobriety can be far more fulfilling and exciting than people assume, and it starts with choosing to make a change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Photo Via: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Hardy
Author: Justin Mckibben
I have to say that being a huge movie buff, and I’m the kind of guy who tries to remember every role my favorite actors/actresses play in. I highly anticipate the new Mad Max: Fury Road film starring the London talent turned Hollywood hero Tom Hardy, and as someone that follows the careers of actors and actresses I’m impressed with after they are able to grab my attention with just one intriguing role, I have become a huge fan of this guy. So when I first read about Tom Hardy speaking openly about his battles with drugs and his road to recovery it was something that makes him seem more human, and I might actually be a bigger fan for it.
Hard Man Hardy
Edward Thomas “Tom” Hardy is a 37 year old English actor from Hammersmith, London who made his feature film debut back in the day with Black Hawk Down in 2001. He since has been noted for countless amazing performances in some awesome titles including:
- Star Trek: Nemesis (yes.. he was the main villain)
- RocknRolla (appeared as Handsome Bob)
- Inception (a performance toe-to-toe with Dicaprio’s)
- Warrior (nuff said)
- Lawless (the big brother/soft spoken moonshine man)
- The Dark Knight Rises (duh… anything Batman is awesome)
And throughout his career he went from a much smaller size to a bulky brawler, getting him some serious notoriety as what he says Hollywood sees him as- a “hard man” on set, but that’s not who he thinks he is. This may be most noticeable in his role as the yoked-up mask-faced mercenary BANE from the final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.
So when Hardy recently talked about his troubles with drugs and how helpless he was in active addiction, I can’t help but imagine him saying (in my best possible Bane impersonation) “I was wondering what would break first, my mind… or my body!” Addiction struck in his mid-20’s, but it seems Hardy counts himself fortunate to have recovered before getting the chance to terrorize us in Gotham City.
In an interview with fellow former addict Kenny Ross, Hardy talked about how his had nearly fallen apart, along with his career due to drugs and alcohol. Despite his successful performance in Black Hawk Down, he quickly found himself in a downward spiral that landed him broken.
“I didn’t want anyone to know I was out of control, but I couldn’t hide it. Eventually, the body gives up. I was completely kaput. I was lucky I didn’t get hepatitis or AIDS.”
Hardy admitted that his troubles began at an early age of 13, when he was already experimenting with hallucinogens. Coming from an affluent home Hardy was kicked out of boarding schools for theft, and an addiction to crack cocaine and abusive relationship with alcohol quickly followed. Hardy was arrested for stealing a Mercedes and possessing a gun at 17, but somehow managed to get off without punishment. The years went on and his addiction was only growing, and he abused crack cocaine consistently. At one point he said:
“I would have sold my mother for a rock of crack”
While it didn’t get to the point his mom was on the auction block, it apparently got bad enough for Hardy to make a change.
“I did something particularly heinous that allowed me to wake up.
“I had to lose something. Sometimes you have to lose something that is worth more to you than your drinking.”
Then one day in 2003 he woke up in a puddle of his own blood and vomit on the streets of Soho, and after years of using and boozing he finally realized he needed help. Luckily for him, he was able to find it.
His Reaction to Recovery
Hardy may have become one of the “hard men” of Hollywood, but he is certainly able to admit his shortcomings and his faults. During an interview Hardy described his transition into recovery from despair and desperation, and how the message had stuck with him.
“I was told very clearly, ‘You go down that road, Tom, you won’t come back. That’s it. All you need to know.’ That message stayed with me clearly for the rest of my days. I am f–king lucky to be here.”
When he talks about his trip to rehab, his intentions going in, and the revelation he had while in treatment it is a very familiar story. This inspiration hits close to home remembering my own journey to treatment for addiction, and one thing I can honestly relate to is when he said:
“I went in thinking I’d do it for a little bit until I can go out and drink and people forgive me. But I did my 28 days, and after listening to people who had been through similar circumstances I realized I did have a problem.”
Hardy has now been sober since 2003, and he credits a lot of that to helping others in many ways to reach out. He has actively worked a 12 Step program, and admits that at times his work may be his substitution for his drinking and drugging, but he does his best to stay aware of what that element of his ambition could do. He is the first to admit he has the same potential to ruin it all today as he ever did, but he is grateful for his life today and for the opportunity to chase his dreams and raise his son.
While our new Mad Max may look like a bit of a bully in his movies, it appears as though he is anything but. As a loving father and active member of a fellowship who has dedicated himself to helping others and spreading the message, he seems to take his role in recovery very seriously, and isn’t afraid to talk about living in the fear. Sometimes we don’t see how our heroes are humans too. We all need a little help sometimes. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Darren Shahlavi began his career as a powerful martial artist who was originally born and raised in Stockport, England, and was best known as a supporting player on TV shows including Mortal Kombat: Legacy and Arrow, but sadly he lost his life this week in what is being reported as an alleged prescription drug overdose.
The actor primarily made a name for himself in the entertainment industry for playing bad guys in martial arts films, but is described by his family as an amazing person with endless talent.
The Life of Shahlavi
Darren Shahlavi started his path to star status pretty early, practicing martial arts since the young age of 7 years old. In the early 1990s he moved to Hong Kong later in life to pursue a career doing stunts, where he was recruited to star in action movie Tai Chi 2.
Shahlavi relocated to the United States to continue furthering his film career. He got involved in several big name productions performing stunt work. Some for the bigger titles he was part of were listed as:
- The Chronicles of Riddick
- Night at the Museum
Shahlavi was even involved in acting on the big screen, acting in films like I Spy alongside Eddie Murphy back in 2002. Then he was featured alongside the late Robin Williams for the 2004 filmThe Final Cut. Robin Williams was another incredible and talented entertainer with a history of drug use who passed away recently.
In 2010, Darren Shahlavi even got the opportunity to act in the martial arts film Ip Man 2, the next year he got another big break as a star in Mortal Kombat: Legacy as Kano. Because of the prominent martial arts prowess, he was cast in a variety of other action roles in films such as:
- Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
- BloodRayne (2005)
Still it was his adaptation of Kano, the thuggish head of the Black Dragon crime cartel in the Mortal Kombat series that earned him the widest recognition.
Tragedy struck on January 14th of this year when Shahlavi, age 42, was reportedly found dead at his home in Los Angeles. Few details are currently known about the British actor’s death, but some new outlets have recently reported that the death was due to an apparent overdose on prescription drugs.
Some sources have also made claims that Shahlavi had an extended history of drug and alcohol abuse, but this has yet to be confirmed by an official report. The Los Angeles County Coroner is now preparing for the conduct toxicology tests before more detailed information will be available.
His agent, Kathy Carpenter, confirmed his death shortly after the initial reports. With the news of Shahlavis death circulating the Internet at rapid speed, several former co-stars took to Twitter in order to express their grief and condolences. Stephen Amell, star of Arrow on the CW network wrote,
“RIP Darren Shahlavi. 1st guy I ever fought on Arrow. He was a great dude & a patient, thoughtful partner. Fight looked good because of him.”
Shahlavi is survived by his former wife, Luraina Undershute, and his actress sister, Elisabeth Shahlavi. After hearing about his passing, Shahlavi’s younger sister Malouse wrote on Twitter,
“Don’t know how to express the emotions I’m feeling right now. Last night I found out my dearest brother had past away, he was a true inspiration to so many people including myself and I will forever be proud of all of your accomplishments with your acting career.”
Truly it is always a painful and emotional time when another incredible and talented individual loses their life to drugs and alcohol. It is sad that as a society we are used to hearing about celebrities and entertainers dying due to abuse of drugs or a severe addiction. Our thoughts go out to Darren’s family during this difficult and devastating time.
Rest in Peace
August 5, 1972 – January 14, 2015
Prescription drug overdoses have drastically increased in the past few years. More and more people are dying because of this dangerous and debilitating affliction, and the worst part is there is help out there that can save them. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135