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Robert Downey, Jr. says addiction is a family problem

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Robert Downey, Jr. admits he thinks the major factor in overcoming his addictions was simply maturing and living through it. While his theory very well may be true for some, and it’s obvious that Downey, Jr. has won his battle, does his recall of his own experience help his own young son, who is currently battling demons of his own?

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For some folks it’s just a function of age,” Downey, Jr. said to Vanity Fair about overcoming addiction. “It’s perfectly normal for people to be obsessive about something for a period of time, then leave it alone,” he continued.

Downey, Jr. admitted that he’s so far removed from the battles with drug and alcohol addiction that marred his life through most of his early career, that he almost doesn’t even believe the tale himself. While speaking on his experiences in jail (he spent time at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison) and reintegrating back to “normal” life, Downey, Jr. said, “Job one is get out of that cave. A lot of people do get out but don’t change. So the thing is to get out and recognize the significance of that aggressive denial of your fate, come through the crucible forged into a stronger metal. Or whatever. But I don’t know if that was my experience. It’s funny: 5 years ago I would have made it sound like I’m conscious of my own participation in seizing the similarities. But so many things have become less certain. I swear to God, I am not my story.”

It’s obvious that Downey, Jr. has come triumphantly out the other side of his darker times: He’s the centerpiece of the massive Iron Man franchise, he’s been named Forbes‘ highest-paid actor for the past two years in a row, he’s been happily married to his wife, Susan Downey, since 2005 and the couple is expecting a baby girl in November. But for every RDJ who emerges victorious out of rehab, there are five Lindsay Lohans who don’t.

The theory “you’ll grow out of it” could be dangerous fodder for a young adult battling addictions. If a person is truly ill, then such notions could easily be used as an excuse to keep abusing.

Downey, Jr. himself says in the interview that addiction is a family problem and possibly the cause of his addiction, as well as his son Indio’s, who was recently jailed and charged with drug possession after being busted with cocaine in June. He doesn’t reveal how the family is dealing with Indio’s problem, but he did say that it’s important not to get caught up in the struggles. “You’re confronted with histories and predispositions and influences and feelings and unspoken traumas or needs that weren’t met, and all of the sudden you’re 3 miles into the woods,” he said. “Can you help someone get out of those woods? Yes, you can. By not getting lost looking for them. Pick a dysfunction and it’s a family problem.”

What do you think of Downey, Jr.’s “live and learn” theory? Is it advice you would impart to someone you love who is battling addiction?

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