Danny Trejo Celebrates 51 Years Sober

By Victoria Kim 09/19/19

“My life is just so beautiful since I took alcohol and drugs out of it,” Trejo said.

Danny Trejo

Danny Trejo celebrated over a half-century sober this month. The actor posted a photo on social media of himself holding a cake with the caption, “Celebrating 51 years of being clean and sober with the guys.”

The actor, who is promoting the new Rob Zombie film 3 From Hell, shared with Entertainment Tonight, “My life is just so beautiful since I took alcohol and drugs out of it.”

He added, “God has blessed me with great friends, a great support system and great people around me. That’s what a person needs, a great support system.”

First Encounter With Drugs

Trejo, 75, has come a long way.

His uncle introduced him to weed when he was eight years old. And from then on, he would use “whatever drugs were available,” he told Prison Legal News in 2011.

“I thought that drugs were my answer,” he said in a 2015 AARP documentary. “As long as I stayed loaded, I’m okay. But life would turn into chaos.”

Trejo spent more than a decade in various maximum-security California state prisons, making a name for himself as a boxing champ “in every institution I was in.”

When he left prison for the final time, he dedicated himself to serving others and became a drug counselor, connecting with people in juvenile halls, prisons and more.

His Big Break

That’s when he got his big break. He found himself on the set of the film Runaway Train (1985) while responding to a call from a production assistant who needed support so he wouldn’t use drugs. While Trejo was on set, he was recruited by a former fellow inmate who recognized him to teach Eric Roberts how to box for the film. The director was so pleased with his work that he put him in the film as a boxer.

“Everything good that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of helping someone else,” said Trejo. “My passion is talking to young people… My message is, staying away from drugs and alcohol, and education is the key to anything you want to do.”

Trejo was first introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous in 1959. “Once you know about it, it’s always there, it’s always an alternative,” he told Prison Legal News.

A Long, Successful Career

The iconic Hollywood “tough guy” has been in at least 124 films. And he’s managed to stay humble despite his impressive filmography. “I don’t think I am a big Hollywood star,” he told the Hollywood Reporter in 2016. “I won’t let myself. I can’t, because I’ve seen too many actors with the feeling of entitlement, and I want to slap the shit out of them.”

Having been through so much in his life, Trejo learned the hard way, by being incarcerated, that substance abuse is not the answer.

“I was an addict, an alcoholic, and I know that road,” he said in the AARP documentary. “That road leads to death, institutions or insanity.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr