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Nerd In Recovery: Robert Downey Jr.


This is a new series I am starting called Nerds in Recovery where I take a look at a famous person in recovery. Okay, you may be thinking there is nothing nerdy about some of these people and since some are pretty big Hollywood names you would probably be correct. But most of these are stars that have had some influence on the geek world, so that qualifies them in my book. For the record, I don’t intend to regulate it to just famous people. If this little site grows enough then hopefully one day I will be able to tell other people’s stories as well.
So why famous people? Am I just trying to capitalize on their struggles? I could see how somebody might think that. However, that is not where my mind is at in this endeavor.  There are two main reasons for this. One, since they are well known in recovery they already lack a lot of the anonymity most people still hold closely to. Secondly, is to give us all some inspiration and encouragement along the way. To know we aren’t alone and that people have gone on to be very successful in recovery.  I once heard a quote that read, “We tell stories of those who are great to remind us that we too, can be great.”  So I tell the stories of those who are great. Speaking of which, let’s get started with….
Robert Downy Jr.
Robert Downy Jr. is well known in recovery from drugs and alcohol.  In fact, he is so well known I almost didn’t start with him. It’s like those Geico commercials, everybody knows that. Still my Mama always told me “Go big or go home” (she never actually said this…) so I figured I might as well do just that.
There is one more slightly personal reason I started with him. When I was in rehab my brother sent me an Ironman card as a sort of joke. On it he wrote that even Robert Downey Jr. didn’t become Ironman until after his recovery. Which was very encouraging to me at the time.
Another reason is that in a lot of ways, Robert Downy Jr.  owes a lot of his resurgence to the nerd community. Nabbing the Tony Stark/Ironman part brought him out of actor obscurity and you can’t help but think that in many ways he really is like Tony Stark.
Another reason is that every year he rocks the Comic-Con panels in Hall H. He comes in dressed up as Tony Stark and puts on a show for the audience. This year he danced out to Michael Jackson, opened a briefcase and threw flowers out to the audience, and then introduced the rest of the Avengers, who also danced out to MJ. He knows how to really connect with the audience and the nerd community has really embraced him.  My brother actually got a high five from him one year!
From what I have read, he had a pretty early introduction to drugs. His parents were hippies and he had pretty access to drugs growing up. Add to that the pressure and success of a young star and it was the perfect mix for an addiction. I am not blaming either of things per se, he made his choices, but his environment didn’t help.
But now he is clean and sober and is big in the recovery community. Sadly his son is now going through similar struggles but he is doing his best to help him work through it. At least he knows what it is like!
So here’s to you Robert Downey Jr/Ironman/Tony Stark!  Thanks for giving us Iron Man, staying clean and sober, and encouraging others to do the same. We will see you next year at Comic-Con!
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