Abuse of heroin, a deadly and highly addictive drug, is on the rise. Between 2006 and 2012, the number of new heroin users in the United States rose from 90,000 to 156,000, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The popular star of the Iron Man... Read more »
This talented and critically... Read more »
Cory Monteith, the young star of... Read more »
British comedian Russell Brand... Read more »
The former child star of numerous... Read more »
Ten-year-old Tatum O’Neal won... Read more »
A reality star, fashion designer... Read more »
The lead singer of the Red Hot... Read more »
Soulful eyes and a gentle smile... Read more »
Whether he was flattening a beer... Read more »
Blond hair and blue eyes were a... Read more »
Celebrity problems with opium... Read more »
The dark lyrics and guitar-driven... Read more »
Audiences loved Mitch Hedberg’s wacky... Read more »
Joplin’s distinctive rasp catapulted... Read more »
Another member of the “27 Club” (so... Read more »
One of the founding members of The... Read more »
Miles Davis was an innovator in the... Read more »
Another celebrated jazz great, the... Read more »
Ray Charles struggled with a heroin... Read more »
Battling Heroin Addiction
Their tragedies are cautionary tales that can hopefully prevent young people from ever using drugs. Their successes also give hope and inspiration to those that are already addicted to heroin and want to get clean. Heroin addiction is difficult to overcome, but with professional treatment and the support of loved ones, it is possible.
The popular star of the Iron Man movies hasn’t always been as successful as he is today. After a promising early career, he became addicted to drugs. And his use of heroin that took him to the breaking point.
Through the late 1990s and early 2000s, Downey spent much of his time in and out of rehab and jail. But he was able to turn his life around, put his addiction behind him, and get back into acting.
Downey’s is one of the most inspiring tales of returning from the depths of addiction. He serves as an important role model for anyone facing a similar slide into heroin addiction.
This talented and critically acclaimed actor won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and had several award nominations during his career. And he did it all while battling lifelong addiction to heroin and other drugs. Sadly, Hoffman lost the battle in February of 2014 when he died of an overdose.
Prior, Hoffman had been sober for over two decades before succumbing to his addiction again. His story started an important conversation about drug use and addiction, especially about the rise in heroin use. Hoffman’s death also illustrates just how serious the addictive hold is, even after years of sobriety.
Cory Monteith, the young star of the popular TV show Glee, is another tragic celebrity victim of heroin. He had always been open about his addiction to prescription drugs. His death is an example of the growing trend of heroin use among young and wealthy or middle-class people. Like many others, Monteith transitioned from painkillers to heroin. His death, while senseless, has helped to start discussions about the growing problem of heroin use in the United States.
British comedian Russell Brand has found fame being both funny and controversial. He has become known for the drug-addled characters he plays in movies, and in real life, he’s battled with heroin addiction.
Although Brand hasn’t used in over 10 years, he admits to thinking about using again and having thoughts about it every day. In spite of the strong grip that heroin has on his mind, Brand is an example of perseverance and strength in the face of the lifelong disease of addiction.
The former child star of numerous ’80s movies was once addicted to heroin. He has spoken candidly about his addiction, and describes using the drug to try to fill a void in his life. He also says that he became instantly addicted to heroin after one use, which demonstrates just how powerful the drug is.
Today, Feldman is clean and focused on a music career. He has been sober for 10 years and has no desire to return to the bonds of drug addiction.
Ten-year-old Tatum O’Neal won an Academy Award for Paper Moon, the movie she made with her father. With so much success at a young age, her future looked bright. But a series of hardships and setbacks in her adult life led her down the path to drug use.
After a rocky relationship with her father and a divorce in the early ’90s, O’Neal turned to heroin looking for relief. What she found was addiction. O’Neal has been open about her battles and shares them in her memoir, Found.
A reality star, fashion designer, and mother, Nicole Richie is open about her former addictions, which include heroin. By the young age of 20, she was already hooked on heroin. Richie attributes her drug use as a response to boredom.
After going through treatment for both heroin and cocaine addiction, Richie was able to rebuild her life and become successful and happy. Her success story is an example to those who feel hopeless and beyond repair.
The lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers battled heroin addiction in the 1990s during the height of the band’s popularity and critical success. Growing up with a drug addict father and surrounded by drug use, Keidis began his own experimentations early.
When his bandmate, Hillel Slovak, died of a heroin overdose, the incident prompted Keidis to get clean. He entered rehab but relapsed again in the mid-1990s. His struggle and relapses show just how difficult it is to recover from a heroin addiction. But his perseverance serves to inspire others going through the same struggles.
Soulful eyes and a gentle smile brought River Phoenix to fans’ attention, but it was his acting talent that made him a star. He received critical acclaim for films like Stand by Me and My Own Private Idaho, a rare feat for someone so young.
Phoenix’s death at the age of 23 from a combination of heroin and cocaine tested his image as a clean-living person. Rumors suggest that Phoenix experimented with drugs and considered alcohol an abiding addiction. Friends and family agree it’s likely the actor used heroin more than once, but it’s difficult to confirm habitual abuse. What is known is that heroin played a fatal role in his final collapse outside a Hollywood nightclub in 1993.
Whether he was flattening a beer can on his forehead or dangling pencils from his nostrils, John Belushi was one of comedy’s most outrageous funny men. His no-holds-barred style helped launch Saturday Night Live into a cultural phenomenon, and he brought life to movies like The Blues Brothers and 1941.
Belushi was also a noted drug and alcohol abuser. On a March night in 1982, Belushi partied long and hard with other entertainment industry friends, one of whom injected him with a number of “speedballs,” a mix of cocaine and heroin that lead to his deadly overdose.
Blond hair and blue eyes were a ticket to stardom in the 1970s fashion and magazine modeling scene. Perhaps that’s why Gia Carangi stood out. Her dark features graced the cover of magazines like Vogue and sold luxury products including Christian Dior.
This daughter of working-class Philadelphia came to prominence in 1978 and is reported to have begun using heroin in 1980. Carangi’s love of that and other substances finally made her unwelcome on photo sets. She dropped out of the celebrity scene three years before her death of AIDS-related causes in 1986.
Celebrity problems with opium derivatives like heroin claim many contemporary headlines. But the appeal of heroin and the related pharmaceutical morphine goes back. Among morphine’s longtime acolytes was 20th century fashion designer Coco Chanel.
Chanel, whose designs liberated women from corsets, bustles, and floor-dragging skirts, is said to have regularly injected herself with morphine well into her eighth decade. Chanel was a hardworking and demanding person whose glamorous public image covered a lifetime of broken romances. She died at the age of 87, in the midst of preparing the Chanel spring fashion catalog.
The dark lyrics and guitar-driven sound of a band from the Pacific Northwest helped establish what we know as grunge music. As Nirvana’s founder, face, and lead singer, Kurt Cobain typified late-20th century male despair and anger. His use of heroin is reported to have become habitual after beginning in 1986, long before his success.
While Nirvana’s record sales broke worldwide records in the early 1990s, Cobain struggled with a fame he often considered unwarranted. A difficult marriage to a fellow musician further complicated Cobain’s troubled heart. His death from a self-inflicted shotgun wound in Seattle in 1994 was a landmark event in the lives of Generation Xers.
Audiences loved Mitch Hedberg’s wacky sense of humor and unexpected delivery. This standup comedian launched his career with appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman, and went on to take top prizes at international comedy festivals.
Hedberg’s physical manner on stage demonstrated his shyness. He often wore sunglasses and tilted his head forward so his long hair covered his face. This stage fright could help explain his use of heroin for its narcotic effects. In addition to joking about drug use, he was arrested for heroin possession in 2003. He died in 2005, at age 37, with a lethal combination of heroin and other drugs in his bloodstream.
Joplin’s distinctive rasp catapulted her to rock stardom. The singer began her struggle with heroin addiction shortly after her swift rise to fame, but it was a battle she ultimately did not win. During the fall of 1970, Joplin was in Los Angeles, putting the finishing touches on her album Pearl.
Unfortunately, she never saw the release of this album, which would become the best selling record of her career. With one song left to record (ironically titled “Buried Alive in the Blues”), Joplin was found dead of a heroin overdose by her manager and friend, John Cooke. She was 27 years old.
Another member of the “27 Club” (so named because all of the musical members died at age 27) is poet and Doors frontman, Jim Morrison. The prodigiously talented young man shot to fame in the music rocket that was the 1960s.
Like many, Morrison was as unafraid of experimenting with drugs as he was with music. In recent years, there have been new revelations in the cause of his mysterious death, initially ruled as natural causes. More recent claims state the artist accidentally overdosed in the bathroom of a Paris bar and was moved by his drug dealers to his apartment.
One of the founding members of The Ramones, bassist and songwriter Dee Dee Ramone died of an accidental heroin overdose in June of 2002. He was found by his wife Barbara, face down over the arm of a chair and unresponsive.
Ramone struggled most of his life with his addiction to heroin. He was scheduled to perform at the Key Club on Sunset Strip on the night of his death. Instead, the gig was repurposed as a tribute. A memorial concert was held a few doors down at Cat Club the next night.
Miles Davis was an innovator in the jazz world. His career spanned five decades, during which he could be found at the heart of every stylistic change in the genre. His friendship with another musician, Charlie Parker, led Miles to a four-year battle with heroin addiction.
Davis beat the drug when he decided he was tired of being strung out all the time. He told Rolling Stone Magazine in 1969, “I laid down and stared at the ceiling for 12 days, and I cursed everybody I didn’t like. I was kicking it the hard way. My pores opened up and I smelled like chicken soup. Then it was over.”
Another celebrated jazz great, the prolific saxophonist John Coltrane struggled with heroin addiction. He used for nearly a decade before finally kicking the drug.
Coltrane’s friendship and musical partnership with Miles Davis was threatened by his frequent drug use. After Davis got clean, he kicked Coltrane out of his band a couple times before Coltrane got off the stuff in 1957.
Coltrane’s sobriety was the result of a spiritual awakening that later developed into an interest in Indian philosophy.
Ray Charles struggled with a heroin addiction for 17 years, during which he wrote songs like “I Don’t Need No Doctor” and “Let’s Get Stoned.” By 1965, he had been busted twice for drug possession, and was arrested a third time by Los Angeles police when he tried to buy heroin from a street dealer.
Charles was sent to a rehabilitation center instead of jail, and he came out of the experience a new man. He remained sober after that, dying in 2004 at 73 of liver failure.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating, tragic, and mysterious musical biographies is that of Billie Holiday. Holiday changed the art of pop vocals with her stylized singing — a beautiful blend of blues and jazz that set her apart from her contemporaries.
Although the facts are obscured, all accounts agree that Holiday had a very rough life indeed. Her addiction to heroin was ongoing, increasing after the death of her mother in the late 1940s. Holiday was taken to the hospital for the last time in 1959. The police searched her home, where they found heroin. She was placed under arrest at the hospital and died shortly after from heart failure.