Robin Williams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman were both in recovery when drug relapses ultimately led to their tragic and untimely deaths. For someone who has never been there, it may be hard to comprehend how addiction can grip someone so strongly—even after years of sobriety.
Questions abound, many of which are simple variations of one inquiry in particular:
If someone was successful in recovery, why start doing drugs or drinking again?
Understanding the Addiction Process
In reality, those of us who have suffered from addiction understand that it’s an everyday struggle. Unfortunately, these recent high-profile tragedies also prove that addiction is also a lifelong battle.
The following nine quotes are from former addicts who set out to show how difficult—and rewarding—living in recovery can truly be.
Jim: Executive Marketing Professional
“I’ve been clean for seven years but still think about using heroin everyday. Sometimes the thought is fleeting, but sometimes it scares me how long I think about using. Whenever it gets to be too much, I also think about the hopelessness of that time in my life. Recovery can be a struggle, but it’s a struggle that gives me my life today.”
Russell Brand: Actor, Comedian, Author
“The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help, they have no hope.”
Stanly: College Professor
“I had been drinking since I was 12 or 13 years old, and I actually managed okay as a pretty heavy drinker my whole life. One night, my son died in a car accident. Over a few days, I drank myself into a stupor. To this day, I don’t remember his funeral. When I realized I didn’t remember it, I was completely disgusted with myself and sought treatment. In recovery, I am now a present father to my two little girls, my wife and the memory of my son.”
Eric Clapton: Musician
“My identity shifted when I got into recovery. That’s who I am now, and it actually gives me greater pleasure to have that identity than to be a musician or anything else, because it keeps me in a manageable size.”
Victoria: Stay-at-Home Mother
“Seeking treatment was not easy for me. I was a classic ‘in denial’ addict. As a stay-at-home mom, I drank wine all day, but nothing really seemed to be wrong. One day, my teenager daughter and husband had a mini-intervention with me. I felt so embarrassed and guilty. I think I was drinking because I was lonely and a bit depressed. However, the community I’ve found in recovery and through AA has been incredibly supportive. I’ve regained my happiness and heath.”
Robert Downey, Jr.: Actor
“Getting sober was one of the three pivotal events in my life, along with becoming an actor and having a child. Of the three, finding my sobriety was the hardest thing.”
Nicole: Registered Nurse
“When I first started taking prescription pills, I didn’t think I had a problem. I had a good job and lots of friends. After a while though, I lost my job and slowly my friends. Thing is, I barely even noticed or cared. Finally, I got treatment after horrible withdrawals. Now that I am in recovery, I understand how blinding my addiction actually was.”
Matthew Perry: Actor
“From an outsider’s perspective, it would seem like I had it all. It was actually a very lonely time for me because I was suffering from alcoholism…I’ve been the lead in movies, on television shows and nominated for Emmy. But the best thing I can say about me is that people who can’t stop drinking come up to me and say, ‘Can you help me?’ And I can say, ‘Yes.’”
Bill: Military Veteran
“I’ve been in recovery for 23 years, and I’ve relapsed seven times. But, the support I get in the recovery community has helped me every time I start drinking again. No judgment, just help and support. Without my recovery program, I know I would have drank myself into an early grave every time. Recovery isn’t always easy, but it certainly beats the alternative.”
Additional Reading: 4 Loopholes We Use to Justify Staying Addicted
How to Get Help for Alcohol and Drug Misuse
If you or a loved one is struggling with a substance misuse problem, help is available and recovery is possible. You can contact an admissions advisor with American Addiction Centers (AAC) for free at for help locating drug or alcohol addiction treatment centers near your location. You can also check your insurance coverage online now.
Levels of Care in Addiction Treatment
- Inpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs
- Outpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs
- 3-Day, 5-Day and 7-Day Detox Programs
- Sober Living Housing
- Aftercare Programs