Gary Busey Reflects On Cocaine Addiction, Becoming Sober

By Paul Gaita 11/15/18

Busey says he stopped using cocaine on May 3, 1995, and has been sober ever since.

Gary Busey discusses his cocaine addiction on the Dr. Phil show
Photo via YouTube

In addition to his busy and prolific career as an actor, Gary Busey has earned a reputation for philosophical aphorisms that he calls "Buseyisms"—words of wisdom drawn from the letters of a word that he said reveal a new definition in its "deeper, dimensional meaning."

The Academy Award nominee has compiled many of these life lessons in a new book, Buseyisms: Gary Busey's Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. In addition to a wealth of Buseyisms, the new book also details the actor's battle with cocaine addiction, which nearly ended his life before he gained clarity through a spiritual awakening.

In a conversation with NBC News, Busey recalled how he became addicted to cocaine shortly after earning an Oscar nomination for his performance in The Buddy Holly Story.

"A fellow who looked like a Beverly Hills cowboy showed up at my door," he recalled. "He told me that he was going to be my manager, and he had a gift for me. It was a blue box from Tiffany's and, in the box, was a rock of cocaine as big as a 50-cent piece, and thick, with my initials in it."

The dealer told Busey that the drug would help him be "more creative," and as Busey recalled, "I got hooked bad." His drug use led to an overdose, followed by an unpleasant realization: "What have I been doing? I've been dancing with the devil in a circle that's very tight, and the devil always leads the dance."

According to Busey, he stopped using cocaine on May 3, 1995, and has been sober ever since.

To summarize his 25 years of sobriety, Busey has an aphorism: "F-R-E-E-D-O-M stands for 'facing real exciting energy, developing out of miracles." Busey expounded on the notion by adding, "The best freedom you can have is knowing you're a miracle. So, be yourself, and live in the harmony of what God gave you to be when you were born. Think on that; feel that about yourself. And you won't need to abuse substances or alcohol or needles or pills."

Busey remains sanguine about the challenges of chasing sobriety. He freely admitted that those who follow his advice and give up their substance of choice may actually come to hate him for such a suggestion. "But that's okay," he noted. "Hate is an emotion that comes with growth."

But the payoff, he said, is worth the effort. "Everything you've done in your life, even though some of it was hard, is good, because you go through it to get better. And that’s why we're on earth."

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.