Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr.’s post-rehab rebound is evidence that, with hard work and a great support system, anyone can recover from a devastating drug addiction. Despite the ups and downs experienced during his film career and recovery effort, Downey Jr. retains a positive outlook on life.

Ironically, the actor first achieved great success while playing a cocaine addict in Less Than Zero. At the time, however, few fans realized that, like the character he was portraying, Robert Downey Jr. was heavily dependent on illicit drugs. But after a few years, the actor’s drug problem grew quite obvious, given his frequent arrests for possession. During a 1999 trial, Downey Jr. provided a harrowing account of his addiction: “It’s like I have a loaded gun in my mouth and my finger’s on the trigger, and I like the taste of the gun-metal.”

Robert Downey Jr. hit rock bottom in 2001

Following drug-related arrests in Palm Springs and Culver City, he was dismissed from a high-profile role in Ally McBeal and ordered to enter a drug rehabilitation program or face up to four years in prison. This time, Downey Jr. made a real commitment to recovery and was able to finally achieve lasting sobriety. Later speaking of the ordeal with Oprah Winfrey, Downey Jr. said, “I reached out for help, and I ran with it. You can reach out for help in kind of 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 actually do it.”

Since his time in rehab, Robert Downey Jr. has made a full recovery and gone on to pursue a remarkable career. His accomplishments include starring in such popular films as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Ironman and Sherlock Holmes. The acclaimed actor also earned an Oscar for his performance in the comedy Tropic Thunder. All signs point to the future creation of several additional blockbuster movies.

Robert Downey Jr.’s story is a valuable one, in that it proves both the ability of addiction to hit any type of person, as well as the ability of seemingly hopeless addicts to achieve sustained sobriety. Recovery does not require a miracle; it simply requires hard work and a whole lot of patience, both of which Downey Jr. has displayed in his mission to remain sober.