Addiction Can Hit Anyone?
Addiction to drugs or alcohol is often given a negative connotation, but in reality, it’s often the start of something special. Just as everyday people struggle with weight or health issues, drug and alcohol problems plague people, presenting a seemingly insurmountable problem. It’s those people who best approach the problem that thrive in the environment of rehabilitation and come out stronger than they ever were before. Sobriety is key.
Here are the stories of people who made a conscious choice to get out of the endless spiral of drug and alcohol abuse and make something of their lives. In each case, they reached greater heights, because of sobriety, and each has resisted temptation in an environment in which it would be very easy to relapse.
That Aerosmith is around in 2013 making new music is a miracle in and of itself. The rock group’s ability to defy the odds and beat their addictions makes Aerosmith’s tale one of the most remarkable rehabilitation stories in history.
Many younger rock fans know Aerosmith largely for their string of hits in the 1990s and 2000s. However, things could have ended for the band decades prior. As was the case with many rock bands in the 1970s, Aerosmith was very much a part of the drug scene. Unlike many of their contemporaries, though, the drugs began to become the most notable part of the band’s reputation as the 1970s came to a close, when the hits stopped coming.
The band’s legendary excesses in the 1970s gave lead singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry the dubious nickname of “The Toxic Twins”, a name that lives on in spite of decades of sobriety. Perry, Tyler and the rest of the band were surrounded by hangers-on who convinced them that they were doing great and that they didn’t have any drug problems to worry about. Predictably, the band began to self-destruct when their commercial appeal began to decline, in part due to the band’s inebriated performances that alienated audiences.
The original lineup split up in 1979, which was followed by a string of replacement musicians who placated the band’s drug abuse, but didn’t match the group’s initial spark. In the mid-1980s, Aerosmith came back together to give it one last try. As part of the reunion, each member of the band agreed to go to rehab.
The band came back together with a renewed sense of purpose, and Aerosmith’s sobriety helped propel the music to new heights. Some of the band’s most famous songs, such as “Love in an Elevator” and “Livin’ on the Edge”, became major hits after Aerosmith’s comeback, putting the band back on top of the music world. The band itself became a bigger part of pop culture than ever before, regularly appearing on MTV and even facilitating singer Tyler’s stint as a host of American Idol.
Aerosmith is still thriving today, having released a new album in 2012 and touring the world each year. Even in their 60s, the band can still rock, and most of the credit is due to the things they learned in rehab. By ridding themselves of their vices, Aerosmith found the key to reaching their potential.
Robert Downey, Jr.
Many people are familiar with Robert Downey, Jr.’s comeback from drug addiction, but they don’t realize just how intense his addiction was and how remarkable his recovery has been. Today, Downey is the world’s biggest movie star, but for a while it seemed like he was headed towards an early grave.
Robert Downey, Jr. took his first drug at age six, when his drug addicted father gave him marijuana. From that point, Downey was a frequent drug user. For a while, Downey was able to juggle drugs and acting; as part of the famous “Brat Pack” from the 1980s, Downey starred in many popular movies and received critical acclaim. He even received a nomination for Best Actor for his work in the 1992 film Chaplin. However, this was the peak of Downey’s early career.
After Downey’s Oscar nomination, he frequently found trouble due to his addiction. A period of jail and failed rehab stays kept Downey out of work, and even after he cleaned up his act, Downey was unable to act in films because studios refused to insure him. Downey was forced to start small, acting in music videos and working his way up the ladder.
Downey finally kicked drugs for good in 2003, and within a few years he was back in the good graces of critics and the moviegoing public alike. In 2008, Downey made his major star turn – the lead role in Iron Man, a movie based on the famous comic book. The lead character’s playboy status was a perfect match for Downey’s past transgressions, and the public rewarded Downey’s efforts by making Iron Man the 2nd highest grossing movie in 2008, with $318 million in box office receipts. Two successful sequels followed, as did Downey’s involvement in the Sherlock Holmes franchise, cementing Downey’s status as the top box office draw in the world.
Throughout the past decade, Downey has been open about his struggles and his stay in rehabilitation. This has not only encouraged the public to rally behind him, but has helped him to stay clean. Downey’s story shows that there is always a second chance, provided one is willing to put in the work to get sober.
When people think about Eric Clapton today, they don’t think about drugs or alcohol. Clapton’s recovery over the past 25 years gives great credence to the power of drug and alcohol rehab and what can be done with the proper mindset and effort.
Given Clapton’s history – one of his most famous songs is called “Cocaine” – it’s not surprising to hear that he has battled substance abuse. But Clapton’s tale is very significant given how it began; specifically, with him passed out backstage at George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh, the first-ever rock benefit for charity. Clapton continued abusing heroin after this incident, to the tune of an addiction that cost him $16,000 each week.
In a 2007 interview with NPR, Clapton said that he was in denial. He simply felt he could stop whenever he wanted. Unfortunately, the reality was that he couldn’t give up his addictions – which also included cocaine and alcohol – until he realized he needed help and actively sought treatment. Clapton finally got help in the late 1980s and has remained sober ever since.
Clapton’s sobriety has continued in the face of unspeakable tragedy. When his four-year-old son fell out of the window of an apartment building and died, Clapton resisted the urge to return to his old ways. Instead, he channeled his grief into his biggest hit, “Tears in Heaven”. Clapton has remained vigilant in his sobriety, opening the Crossroads Centre in Antigua, a facility dedicated to helping those who struggle with the drug and alcohol addictions that plagued Clapton for years. Clapton plays frequent benefit concerts for the facility, which serve to raise awareness of the facility and provide funding.
Today, Eric Clapton enjoys a quiet family life, one in which he has been sober longer than he has abused drugs and alcohol. Clapton’s story shows that, even in their lowest times, the coping mechanisms learned in rehab can help people overcome anything.