Robert Downey, Jr. Talks Passing on Addiction to Son

By Shawn Dwyer 09/09/14

In an upcoming edition of Vanity Fair, the Iron Man actor discussed his own past with addiction while addressing his son's current struggle.

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“Pick a dysfunction and it’s a family problem,” said actor Robert Downey, Jr. in a recent interview with Vanity Fair.

Downey was discussing his own sordid past with drugs and alcohol when he was asked about his son, Indio, who is also struggling with addiction. Indio was arrested in June for possession of cocaine.

“He’s his mother’s son and my son, and he’s come up the chasm much quicker than we did,” Downey said. “But that’s typical in the Information Age; things get accelerated. You’re confronted with histories and predispositions and influences and feelings and unspoken traumas or needs that weren’t met, and all of a sudden you’re three miles into the woods."

Downey talked with the magazine at length about his own well-publicized struggle with addiction, though the details are known even to the most casual fan.

He became an addict as a kid, and despite that became a Hollywood star. But in 1996, he was caught at a traffic stop with powder and crack cocaine, heroin, and a loaded handgun. That triggered a series of legal entanglements that landed him in numerous rehabs and finally prison in 1999. Following two more arrests, including when he was infamously found wandering the streets barefoot, Downey finally got clean.

“Job one is get out of that cave,” he said. “A lot of people do get out but don’t change. So the thing is to get out and recognize the significance of that aggressive denial of your fate, come through the crucible forged into a stronger metal...But I don’t even know if that was my experience.”

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.