Heroin is a highly addictive drug. In an alarming trend, the number of people trying the opioid drug is increasing, despite the obvious dangers. Hollywood celebrities who have spoken openly about their prior heroin use shed a light on the risks and complications that can occur. Read on to learn about 10 celebrities who spoke openly about their experiences with the drug.
1. Philip Seymour Hoffman
Academy Award winner Philip Seymour Hoffman was a film and stage actor who gained acclaim for his performance as Truman Capote in the 2005 film “Capote.” He later went on to star in other Oscar-nominated films including “Charlie Wilson’s War” and “Doubt.” At the time of his death, he was almost finished filming the final film in the “Hunger Games” series.
In 2006, Hoffman revealed in a “60 Minutes” interview that he had entered rehab and reached sobriety at a young age — just 22. “You get panicked,” he said. “It made me worried if I was going to get to do the kind of things I wanted to do in my life. I was putting myself in situations, in predicaments that were dangerous.”
Hoffman battled addiction his whole life, and he died in February 2014 at age 46. His official cause of death was combined drug intoxication.
2. Russell Brand
English comedian and actor Russell Brand speaks openly about his previous drug use. In addition to his sex addiction and promiscuity, his drug use is frequently mentioned as part of his stand-up act.
He began using drugs at age 16 after leaving his mother’s home. Brand has described his first experience with heroin as “blissful.”
“I cannot accurately convey to you the efficiency of heroin in neutralizing pain. It transforms a tight, white fist into a gentle, brown wave,” Brand told The Guardian. In December 2014, he tweeted that he was 12 years clean and sober.
3. Robert Downey, Jr.
Robert Downey, Jr., teenage heartthrob turned “Iron Man” superstar, has lived a very public battle with heroin and drugs. After being introduced to drugs by his father when he was just 8 years old, the actor was in and out of jail for various drug charges between 1996 and 2001.
“All those years of snorting coke, and then I accidentally get involved in heroin after smoking crack for the first time,” Downey told Rolling Stone. “It finally tied my shoelaces together. Smoking dope and smoking coke, you are rendered defenseless. The only way out of that hopeless state is intervention.”
In 2003, Downey entered rehab and brought his years-long addiction to an end.
4. Corey Feldman
Corey Feldman, one half of “The Two Coreys,” a nickname given to him and fellow actor Corey Haim after their rise to popularity in the 1980s, lived out a very public battle with drugs. In his 2013 memoir “Coreyography,” the actor described sexual abuse by a family friend. The same man who abused Feldman also introduced him to drugs.
Feldman battled substance abuse for years after he was introduced. In 1990, he was arrested for heroin possession. Following the abuse, his addiction dramatically worsened.
“And that’s when I really took the plunge, after I got off the coke, after I’d already had a stint with crack,” Feldman told The Huffington Post in 2013. “Then this other girl broke up with me, and then the guy, who was the pedophile (whose name I had to change [in the book]), who introduced me to every one of the drugs I ever tried said, ‘Hey, why don’t you try heroin.’”
5. Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher’s most iconic role was as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” franchise. For many years Fisher also battled drug addiction. Fisher later revealed she started using drugs, including heroin, as a type of self-medication to control the manic side of her depression. “Drugs made me feel more normal,” she told Psychology Today. “They contained me.”
In a 2016 question-and-answer interview with Rolling Stone, Fisher detailed her drug use, including experimentation with heroin. Rolling Stone asked, “Are there any drugs you wish you’d never touched?” The actress answered, “The stronger of the opiate class. I would say heroin. I snorted that. I never did it the full-on way, which is basically what you do when you’re trying to kill yourself.”
In December 2016, the actress died at age 60 of cardiac arrest. Her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, died the following day.
6. Cory Monteith
Before he was a star in the hit television show “Glee,” Cory Monteith was battling the bright lights of another kind: addiction. In an interview with Parade, Monteith said he was skipping school to get drunk and smoke pot by age 13.
“Anything and everything, as much as possible,” he said. “I had a serious problem.”
At 19, his friends staged an intervention and Monteith worked to get clean and sober. He got a job, took acting classes, and soon landed a high-profile spot on a popular musical show. Then, unfortunately, the addiction returned. In 2013, he checked back into rehab, but he died of combined heroin and alcohol toxicity in July of that year.
7. Courtney Love
She had dabbled with drugs before, but singer and actress Courtney Love says her heroin use became real after a party at Charlie Sheen’s house at the urging of a friend. “At some point, Jennifer — who has been very clean for 16 years now — convinced me to shoot up. ‘Come on, everyone’s doing it.’ So that’s when my whole heroin drama began,” Love told sobriety blog The Fix in 2011.
A few years later, she quit as part of a promise to a boss. “I finally quit in 1996, when I gave my word to [‘The People vs. Larry Flynt’ director] Milos Forman that I would not do any drugs while he was filming that movie,” she told The Fix.
8. Kurt Cobain
Courtney Love’s husband and lead singer of rock band Nirvana, Kurt Cobain openly struggled with heroin use like this wife. In an unreleased 1992 letter to his fans, Cobain detailed his heroin use.
“So after protein drinks, becoming a vegetarian, exercise, stopping smoking, and doctor after doctor I decided to relieve my pain with small doses of heroine for a walloping 3 whole weeks,” he said. “It served as a band-aid for a while but then the pain came back so I quit. It was a stupid thing to do and I’ll never do it again and I feel real sorry for anyone who thinks they can use heroine as a medicine because um, duh, it don’t work.”
Cobain was never able to stop using heroin, and in April 1994, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His autopsy revealed high levels of heroin in his bloodstream at the time of his death.
9. Tatum O’Neal
As the youngest person to be awarded an Academy Award, Tatum O’Neal grew up in the bright lights of Hollywood stardom. Her father, Ryan O’Neal, was a famous actor and boxer. Her mother, Joanna Moore, was likewise a famous television star. Later in life, O’Neal married tennis legend John McEnroe and had a family. But all of that wasn’t enough to keep the allure of drugs away. She began using at an early age. She got clean and started a family, but that wasn’t enough to silence the pull of drugs. She lost custody of her children because of her heroin use.
“I hated the way I felt inside. I had this exterior life in Hollywood that looked great. Little girls wanted to be me, boys wanted to date me. But I was being treated like the most terrible daughter that ever lived,” O’Neal told The New York Times. “All I wanted was my mom, and she wasn’t there. So when I finally met John and that didn’t work out, I had such a hole in my gut. I didn’t know what to fill it with. It was so empty. I kept filling it with heroin, then stopping, then going back. But I got clean. And I did two years of urine-testing, and I did get my kids back, damn it!” O’Neal was arrested again in 2008 for buying drugs in Manhattan.
10. Keith Richards
English musician and guitarist for the Rolling Stones Keith Richards has long been associated with heavy drug use. The band’s tours were notorious for free-flowing drugs, and the members were arrested several times over the course of their careers for possession. All of these brushes hasn’t stopped Richards, though he did stop using heroin in 1978. In fact, he’s quite candid about his heroin use and the benefits he thinks came from it.
In an interview with Men’s Journal, the magazine asked, “Your book suggests you did heroin because it allowed you to work. I find it hard to believe heroin was part of your Protestant work ethic.”
“It was — either stay up or crash out or wake up. It was always to do something,” Richards said. “Also, I've got to confess, I was very interested in what I could take and what I could do. I looked upon the body as a laboratory — I used to throw in this chemical and then that one to see what would happen; I was intrigued by that. What one would work against another; I’ve got a bit of alchemist in me that way. But all experiments must come to an end.”