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Robert Downey Jr.’s Drug Addiction: A Story of The Troubled Actor Who Became The Infamous ‘Iron Man’

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Robert Downey Jr’s movies have given him quite the credibility and reputation befitting of a hardworking and versatile Hollywood actor. But the sharp-looking Downey Jr. was once known for a decline in his life and illegal drug use.

MCU icon Robert Downey Jr.’s life is symbolic to his life as Iron Man. As Iron Man, he was an accomplished man whose enemies tried to destroy. However, many saw him rise again to become one of the most celebrated superheroes.

In the same vein, Downey Jr.’s personal life started rosy when he was a child star. Then, he became helpless and was at the mercy of drug use before the life-changing turn. Here’s the story of his journey to sobriety.

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Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. Image: Pinterest

How Robert Downey Jr Became Addicted To Drugs

Born in 1965 into Hollywood royalty, Downey Jr. quickly became a part of the industry by virtue of his dad’s influence. He became a child actor and, in no time, was known as an accomplished child star. 

As a child star, his feature film success included movies like “Weird Science,” “Baby, It’s You,” and “Firstborn.” Downey Jr. got lucky and secured a regular character stint on “SNL.” He was on the popular show from 1985 to 1986. 

From his coming-of-age years through his life as an adult actor, he bagged milestones. However, behind all that success and Hollywood glamor, Downey Jr. knew he had a challenging issue eating him up in private. 

Downey Jr’s father, Robert Downey Sr, introduced him to drugs at the age of eight. He would usually take them during the weekend or after working on set. With time, the young Downey Jr. became an addict. 

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The “Chaplin” actor was in his twenties, and his case was deteriorating fast. What worsened it was when he took on a role in “Less Than Zero.” He had played a party-loving drug addict called Julian Wells. 

Downey once revealed that the movie triggered how he became more addicted to substance abuse. He described playing Julian as “the ghost of Christmas future.” He said: 

“The character was an exaggeration of myself. Then things changed, and, in some ways, I became an exaggeration of the character. That lasted far longer than it needed to last.”

Downey Jr. was soon checked into a rehabilitation center, and that seemed to be a new beginning. However, it did not take long for him to relapse again when he abruptly left the care facility. 

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One thing to note is that despite his drug issues, the “Sherlock Holmes” actor’s career continued to soar. By the 1990s, he was a certified critically-acclaimed actor and earned praises for his opera production of 1991’s “Soapdish.”

Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. Directed by Richard Attenborough Image: Pinterest

Downey Jr’s Legal Issues

While his personal life spiraled due to drug use, Downey Jr. gradually began having brushes with the law. One of these was his arrest in 1997.

The police found substances like heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine in his possession, as well as an unloaded .357 magnum. Unfortunately, the officers stopped him for driving above the speed limit before the items were discovered. 

Another brush with the law happened hours after he was caught with the illegal paraphernalia. He slipped unnoticed into a neighbor’s Malibu home and passed out in a bedroom, only for the astonished homeowner to find him knocked out. 

Downey, 31, was arrested on suspicion of trespassing and being under the influence of a controlled substance, which authorities believed to be heroin. He spent the night in the jail ward at County-USC Medical Center and was released Wednesday morning on his own recognizance.

The actor would later tell Vanity Fair that it was “an uncommon occurrence for me. Happened to be a very public one. I was not a guy who blacked out.”

Downey Jr.
Young Downey Jr. Image: Pinterest

His Sobriety Journey and Life After Addiction

Years after the dark moments of his life passed, Downey Jr. sat in an interview with Vanity Fair sharing his experience with rehabilitation and leaving behind his woes. 

He explained that the first step, which is “job one,” is to “get out of that cave.” The Oscar-winning actor shared that people often got out [of addiction], but many still do not know how to change. 

Downey Jr. stated that there was the need to not only change but also recognize “the significance of that aggressive denial of your fate, come through the crucible forged into a stronger metal.”

Robert Downey Jr.’s wife also played a part in making sure her husband got out of the foxhole. Presently the pair run their production company, Downey Team, among other milestones. 

He was the highest-paid actor from 2013 to 2015, and he has experienced no career decline in years. Downey Jr. has also kept dazzling his MCU fans with his “Iron Man” alter ego since 2008. 

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