Robin Williams: Addiction  cover

Robin Williams: Addiction

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In the first flush of fame, laughter was enough of a drug to fuel Robin Williams’ manic need to be loved. But like most addictions, it wasn’t long before he needed something even stronger to keep his childhood insecurities at bay.


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Robin Williams: Addiction

Childhood Insecurities

In the first flush of fame, laughter was enough of a drug to fuel Robin Williams’ manic need to be loved.

But like most addictions, it wasn’t long before he needed something even stronger to keep his childhood insecurities at bay.

And just as he was physically incapable of stemming the flood of free-flowing jokes and japes when he was on, so he could never seem to get high enough when he was snorting cocaine or drunk enough when he was slinging back bottle after bottle of vodka or Jack Daniels. He must be the only junkie to confess he took cocaine to stay calm!

Robin Williams

Robin Williams

Image by Eva Rinaldi

(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Asking For The Blow

It wasn’t as if he didn’t understand the risks he was taking.

Williams was snorting cocaine with his pal John Belushi on the night the ‘Animal House’ funnyman OD’d on a speedball cocktail of heroin and cocaine at his Sunset Strip, Los Angeles, bungalow at the Chateau Marmont hotel on March 3, 1982.

At the time, Belushi was spending $8,000-a-week on cocaine and the ‘Mindy & Mork’ star called in with ‘Godfather’ star Robert De Niro asking for drugs, according to dealer Cathy Smith, who was also at the bungalow.

“Robert De Niro and Robin Williams came bopping in, laughing and shouting, ‘Hi guys, where’s the blow?’ she said later.

Like A Vacuum

Smith said Belushi handed them a bag of cocaine.

“They attacked John’s bag – sticking straws in it and snorting the white powder into their noses, looking like Hoover vacuum cleaners,” she added.

When Belushi started to feel sick after injecting the deadly drug cocktail, the two stars left like “gentlemen” not realizing the doomed star wasn’t going to recover, Smith explained.

If the tragically early end to his friend’s life gave Williams pause for thought, it didn’t last long. He complained later that sometimes he took so many drugs he thought he was going to die because his heart was pounding so hard.

Dealing With Addiction

Dealing With Addiction

©iStock

Looking For New Challenges

“Cocaine is God's way of telling you that you're making too much money,” he would joke.

The problem was that Williams was making more and more money as his TV and movie career took off.

Every night in the late 1970s and early 80s was a party for the actor as he sought escape in wild excess, often mixing the cocaine with tumblers of vodka and whiskey.

The birth of his first child, Zak, in 1983 restored some sanity and for two decades Williams found some satisfaction in his thriving movie career, throwing himself into a wide variety of challenging and popular roles with the same kind of intensity he had partied in the past.

Relapsing After Tragedy

But the 2004 death of his best friend Christopher Reeve – the ‘Superman’ star he met at Juilliard who crippled his spine falling from a horse – sent him spiraling back into addiction.

The video games and the obsessive exercising he’d used as crutches during his sobriety were no longer enough. It was harder and harder to summon the energy to keep his family, his friends and even his audience laughing. He never went back to cocaine. “I knew that would kill me,” he said.

But booze was an easy alternative. Williams told Parade magazine in 2013 that he relapsed while on location in Alaska.

Relapsing After Tragedy

Relapsing After Tragedy

Image by Charles Haynes

(CC BY-SA 2.0)

Everything Is A Joke

“One day I walked into a store and saw a little bottle of Jack Daniel’s. And then that voice — I call it the "lower power' — goes, "Hey. Just a taste. Just one."

I drank it, and there was that brief moment of "Oh, I’m okay!" But it escalated so quickly. Within a week I was buying so many bottles I sounded like a wind chime walking down the street.”

Unable to resist a joke, he added: ‘I went to rehab in wine country - to keep my options open.'

Calling An Intervention

In 2006, his family held an intervention to again force him into rehab.

At the time, his publicist said: ‘After 20 years of sobriety, Robin Williams found himself drinking again and has decided to take proactive measures to deal with this for his own well-being and the well-being of his family.'

Talking about his addictions, he explained how loneliness pushed him into drinking.

Lonely And Afraid

"I was in a small town where it's not the edge of the world, but you can see it from there, and then I thought: drinking."

"I just thought, hey, maybe drinking will help. Because I felt alone and afraid. It was that thing of working so much, and going f***, maybe that will help. And it was the worst thing in the world," he told The Guardian in 2010.

At that time, he was regularly attending AA meetings.

The Last Time

The Last Time

He returned to rehab in June.

By then he was a shell of the man who exploded in Hollywood like an alien on crack, which wasn’t so very far from the truth. With so many highs the downs were always there waiting for him to fall. This last time he just couldn’t get up again.

Image by FlickreviewR

(CC BY-SA 2.0)