While Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s tragic death is the most recent to make headlines, heroin claimed the lives of many beloved artists, including Cory Monteith, Janis Joplin, River Phoenix and Chris Farley.
Other stars – from Angelina Jolie and Nicole Richie to Samuel L. Jackson – have admitted to dabbling if not struggling with the drug. And many have offered chilling personal accounts of their heroin use.
Here are six celebrities who have shared their experiences with the dangerous drug over the years:
Nearly 11 years sober, Brand has been very open about his struggles with heroin in an effort to help those facing similar addictions.
“I cannot accurately convey to you the efficiency of heroin in neutralizing pain,” the actor-comedian wrote in a column for The Guardian in 2013. “The mentality and behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction.”
Robert Downey Jr.
He wasn’t always Iron Man. The action star has one of the best comeback stories in the business. After several stints in jail and treatment in the late ’90s and early 2000s, Downey Jr. turned his life around.
“I accidentally [got] involved in heroin after smoking crack for the first time. It finally tied my shoelaces together,” Downey Jr. told Rolling Stone in 2010. “Smoking dope and smoking coke, you are rendered defenseless. The only way out of that hopeless state is intervention.”
The troubled child star had a very public and tumultuous battle with addiction in his early career.
After a breakup, “I was like, ‘Well, I’ve tried everything else, and it doesn’t seem to fill this void, so maybe I should try that now.’ So I did, and boom – instantly addicted The only one that really ever took me down that fast and that hard was heroin, and it was awful. It lasted maybe a year, a year and two months,” Feldman told HuffPost Live in 2013. “I’ve never looked back.”
Intervention for the grunge rocker meant urine tests while working on a movie in 1996. The Hole front woman first did heroin at 16 but has said she didn’t develop a problem until partying at Charlie Sheen’s mansion while establishing her career.
Aside from one relapse in an attempted suicide attempt in 2005, Love told sobriety blog The Fix, “I think of myself as sober. When you’re used to heroin and cocaine, a few pills doesn’t seem like the end of the world. As they say in AA, it’s about progress, not perfection.”
The actress is the youngest performer to ever win an Oscar (for Paper Moon at age 10), but her adult life was full of hardships. After divorcing her husband in 1993, she became addicted to heroin.
“I was still looking for a panacea, for some kind of relief from all of that life, from all of that damage,” she told Stone Phillips in 2004.
She also detailed her experiences with the drug in her memoir, Found: “I had started craving [heroin] psychologically, longing to sink into oblivion. Then without it, I began to experience frighteningly dark depressions, with fierce anger as their flip side.”
Not everyone has seen treatment as the only choice for heroin use, though. In a controversial interview last year, Keith Richards told Men’s Journal, “I hate all this idea of rehab and giving stuff up because it just means you’re hung up on it.”
The Rolling Stones guitarist has said the only drug he does now is marijuana – possibly to stay out of trouble with the law. “With smack, I knew: ‘I’ve got to stop now, or I’m going to go in for hard time.”
Even so, the rocker noted reckless use of the drug when he was on it: “I was very interested in what I could take and what I could do. I looked upon the body as a laboratory But all experiments must come to an end.”
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