'American Horror Story' Star Wes Bentley Opens Up About Drug Addiction

By McCarton Ackerman 10/29/15

The actor once again talked about overcoming his addiction to heroin and cocaine.

Wes Bentley

American Horror Story: Hotel star Wes Bentley is opening up about the drug addiction that ruined his first marriage and nearly cost him his career in the early 2000s.

Bentley, who plays Det. John Lowe on the show, first rose to fame in 1999 with his role as artsy teenager Ricky Fitts in the movie American Beauty. But unable to cope with sudden fame, he soon developed a problem with heroin and cocaine that eventually led to a divorce in 2006 from his first wife, Jennifer Quanz.

“At 20, I was too young and too unprepared for stardom. I took myself too seriously,” Bentley told the New York Post. “You have to have a sense of humor about fame at that point. You have to understand that it’s not real and it’s not about you. People are feeling something through you. Or the character you’re playing. I didn’t know who I was.”

Shortly after the divorce, Bentley spiraled into his addiction, working sporadically just so he could pay bills and buy drugs. He was arrested in 2008 and ordered into both counseling and 12-step programs, but admitted to the New York Times in 2010 that he relapsed shortly after treatment and “continued using heroin until he was broke.”

In July 2009, he hit rock bottom and admitted to a friend that he needed help or else he would die. After entering a 12-step program again shortly afterwards, he has remained sober for six years. He has also since married again to producer Jacqui Swedberg and is a father to two young children.

But unlike many celebrities, Bentley says he will continue to remain open about his drug addiction and hopes his story will inspire others to turn their own lives around.

“I want to speak to young artists who might think they should do drugs because they’re creative,” he said. “It’s something I fell into. I already had a wild, creative mind and I thought I could accelerate that with drugs. Then I learned many of the artists I admire did not do drugs ... The biggest problem is the shame. It keeps you down. But you can turn it around.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.