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What Role Did Addiction Play in the Death of Robin Williams?

Robin WilliamsThe news of a celebrity death always triggers public outpourings of grief and shock, but the news of the loss of Robin Williams has really hit many people hard. He was a comic genius famous for his unstoppable energy and enthusiasm, so it is incredibly disturbing to hear that Robin Williams committed suicide. It is known that he was suffering from severe depression and that he recently returned to rehab, so addiction almost certainly played a part in his death.

Fame, Addiction, Depression and Robin Williams

In high school, Robin Williams was voted the funniest student but also the one who was least likely to succeed. His classmates definitely got half of their assessment right, but he busted the latter predication in a spectacular manner. He was accepted into the prestigious Juilliard School of Theatre and, by 1978, he had started to appear on TV. He got his first break in the hit TV show Happy Days in which he briefly played an alien called ‘Mork’. His character was so popular that it led to a new show called Mork and Mindy. This series was hugely popular around the world, turning Robin Williams into a household name. By the eighties, he had started to appear in successful movies like Good Morning Vietnam, Awakenings, and Dead Poet’s Society. He continued to make great movies right up until the time of his death, including hits such as Mrs Doubtfire, When Dreams Come, Patch Adams, and One Hour Photo.

Robin Williams first started to get into trouble with alcohol and drugs during the seventies. He became addicted to cocaine, later admitting that there was a lot of stuff that he did during this time that left him feeling full of shame. He decided to get sober in 1982 when his friend John Belushi died from a heroin and cocaine overdose. His decision to quit was also greatly influenced by the birth of his son. He managed to escape a life that probably would have killed him during the eighties, becoming a recovery success story.

Robin remained sober for the next two decades, but he began drinking alcohol again while on location in Alaska in 2003 – he claimed the trigger was loneliness due to staying in such a remote location. Robin was only back drinking for about a week before he realised he was in big trouble – it took him three years to stop drinking again. He returned to rehab in 2006 in an attempt to quit alcohol.

It was reported that Robin returned to rehab earlier this year but his publicist claimed that this was not due to another relapse. Apparently, he has suffering from depression due to post-acute withdrawal symptoms, so he entered rehab to strengthen his sobriety. The toxicology report is not due back for another few weeks, so it is unclear if Robin had been using alcohol or drugs around the time of his suicide.

Depression and Addiction

Depression and addiction too often go hand in hand. It can be this that drives people into substance abuse in the first place out of a need to self-medication. If the person does not suffer from depression before they begin abusing these substances, they usually will be by the time they stop. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can mean suffering with depression for years after giving up alcohol or drugs. These episodes of depression can come and go, but when the condition comes, it can suck all the joy out of sobriety.

Dealing with depression in recovery is vital, but there is not enough being done about it. Despite many years of sober living, Robin Williams continued to struggle with it. It is not clear why he did not get the help he needed to manage his depression but instead continued to suffer so much from it that he felt the need to end his life prematurely.

The death of Robin Williams is so disturbing because it feels so wrong. How could somebody who made so many people laugh be so depressed? How could somebody who fought his way back from addiction end up suffering so much from this condition? Why did he not get the help he needed? We hope that some answers to these questions will begin to appear over the next few weeks as more about his life is revealed.

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