Robert Downey, Jr. is one of the most iconic actors of our generation. We most recently saw him in the new Iron Man and almost everyone knows; Robert Downey, Jr. is a recovered alcoholic and drug addict.
Robert Downey, Jr. The Addiction
From the years of 1996 to 2001, Robert Downey Jr. was in the heat of his addiction. Downey was arrested numerous times for drug related charges including cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. He went several times through drug treatment programs trying to beat his addiction and did so unsuccessfully. He tried to explain his relapses and his addiction to drugs through the fact that he had been addicted since he was eight. He said his father was an addict and had been giving them to him.
In April 1996, Robert Downey, Jr. was arrested for the possession of heroin, cocaine and an unloaded .357 Magnum handgun while he was speeding down Sunset Boulevard. A month later he was on parole and trespassed into a neighbor’s home while under the influence and fell asleep in one of the beds. He was sentenced to three years of probation and required to undergo drug testing. In 1997, he missed one of the drug tests and had to spend four months in the Los Angeles County Jail. Downey missed another drug test in 1999 and was arrested again. Despite efforts to keep him out of jail he ended up serving a three year prison term at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran, California.
Robert Downey, Jr. spent nearly a year in that drug treatment center and was unexpectedly freed when a judge ruled that his collective time in incarceration facilities had qualified him for early release. After being released from the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in 2000 for drug charges, Robert Downey, Jr. joined the cast of the TV series Ally McBeal playing Calista Flockhart’s love interest. His performance in Ally McBeal gave him a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film. His character had been written when Robert Downey, Jr. was fired after two drug arrests in late 2000 and early 2001. After one last stay in a court-ordered drug treatment program Robert Downey, Jr. following this, he moved from addiction into recovery.
Robert Downey, Jr. Recovery
After five years of substance abuse, arrests, rehab, and relapse, Robert Downey Jr. was finally ready to work toward a full recovery from drugs and a return to his career. In discussing his failed attempts to control his own addictive behavior in the past, Downey told Oprah Winfrey in November 2004 that “when someone says, ‘I really wonder if maybe I should go to rehab?’ Well, uh, you’re a wreck, you just lost your job, and your wife left you. Uh, you might want to give it a shot.”
He added that after his last arrest in April 2001, when he knew he would likely be facing another stint in prison or another form of incarceration such as court-ordered rehab, “I said, ‘You know what? I don’t think I can continue doing this.’ And I reached out for help, and I ran with it. You can reach out for help in kind of a half-assed way and you’ll get it and you won’t take advantage of it. It’s not that difficult to overcome these seemingly ghastly problems…what’s hard is to decide to do it.”
Downey says he has been drug-free and in recovery since July 2003, thanks to his family, therapy, meditation, twelve-step recovery programs, yoga and the practice of Wing Chun Kung Fu. He has described his religious beliefs as “Jewish-Buddhist” and in the past has been interested in Christianity and the Hare Krishna ideology