Cameron Douglas' Dark Days: His Battle with Addiction and Life in Prison
The eldest son of Michael Douglas has been released from prison after nearly seven years
Cameron Douglas tested positive for marijuana while on probation during a random drug testing.
Cameron was released from prison last summer after nearly seven years behind bars following a drug conviction. The probation officers asked the judge to be lenient toward Cameron, saying “relapse is part of the recovery process.”
Cameron spoke to the judge himself, admitting his mistake. “I guess what I want to tell you is that since I’ve come back, I’ve worked really hard, and this hiccup is unfortunate, but I don’t foresee it happening again,” he said during the hearing.
It’s the latest in the ups and downs the eldest son of Michael Douglas has had after his first run-in with the law almost twenty years ago.
During the difficult time period that also saw the 71-year-old actor battling cancer, Cameron and his father have both been outspoken about the harsh sentencing for non-violent drug offenders.
Cameron, now 37, had his first run-in with the law in 1999 when he was arrested in New York and charged with buying drugs. He was also arrested in 2007 in California on cocaine possession charges,
The actor and DJ was then arrested in a federal drug sting in the summer of 2009 and hit with a methamphetamine-dealing charge after he was found in possession of crystal meth at the Hotel Gansevoort in Manhattan.
Following the arrest, Michael and Cameron’s mother, Diandra Douglas, who were married for 23 years before divorcing in 2000, released a statement about the family’s “difficult” situation dealing with Cameron’s substance abuse.
“We are devastated about the recent behavior of our son Cameron. Any family who has dealt with substance abuse knows how difficult it can be,” read the statement. Michael has spoken about being treated for alcoholism in the 1990s.
Michael also opened up to PEOPLE about how he was coping with the ordeal.
“I’m holding up fine,” he said in 2009 at the New York City premiere of his film Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. “It’s a very difficult situation and painful, as I’m sure any mother or father of a substance abuser knows. So we’re doing the best we can.”
In his letter to the judge before the sentencing, Douglas wrote: “For the past eight months, I have cherished my two hr. a week in person conversation with Cameron at the MCC [Metropolitan Correctional Center]. He’s sober! I get to witness the wonderful young man he can be. He maintains his spirit, blames no one but himself, and recognizes his criminal activity began with his heroin use.”
In 2010, Cameron was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to sell crystal meth and for heroin possession.
Soon after his sentencing, he was moved to a minimum security prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.
In 2011, Cameron, then 32, pleaded guilty to smuggling drugs into prison. He was charged with possessing items that tested positive for cocaine and heroin, which were found in his cell by an investigator.
In court, he admitted struggling with addictions to heroin, cocaine and alcohol.
“God knows I am sorry,” records show he told the judge.
At the time, his father said in a statement: “Cameron accepts full responsibility for his conduct, which involved a small user-quantity of drugs. While he has made much progress, he is still not cured. Most people and their families are able to address this illness privately and outside of the spotlight. Unfortunately this has not been possible here, for reasons completely outside of his control. He thanks those that have rooted for his recovery and looks forward to the day when he will not disappoint.”
Although he faced a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release plus a $250,000 fine, Cameron’s sentence was extended by over four years.
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Over the years, Michael regularly visited his son in jail and has been vocal about his disappointment in the prison system following the harsh punishment of his son.
“I see him twice a month now because he’s incarcerated closer to our home,” he said. “He’s a drug addict, but he’s done more than his fair share of time for it.”
Cameron has also spoken out about his time behind bars. In 2013, he wrote an essay published in the Huffington Post in which he opened up candidly about his experience in prison.
“Here I sit at my little table in the belly of the beast, writing to you. I have spent close to two of my four years of incarceration in solitary confinement,” Cameron wrote in 2013.
The actor went on to question the way in which non-violent drug abusers are punished under the current prison system.
“This outdated system pays little, if any, concern to the disease of addiction, and instead punishes it more harshly than many violent crimes,” he wrote. “I’m not saying that I didn’t deserve to be punished, or that I’m worthy of special treatment. I made mistakes and I’ll gladly and openly admit my faults. However, I seem to be trapped in a vicious cycle of relapse and repeat, as most addicts are. Unfortunately, whereas the effective remedy for relapse should be treatment, the penal system’s ‘answer’ is to lock the door and throw away the key.”
He concluded by writing that he felt “blessed” to have the support of his family and that “there is a beautiful purpose hidden along this painful journey.”
Although Cameron wasn’t scheduled to be released from prison until 2018, he was discharged early and is now living in a halfway house in New York City.