Robin Williams's Long Struggle With Addiction
by Hilary Lewis
Robin Williams’s unexpected death Monday brings to an end the comedian’s long battle with cocaine and alcohol addiction.
Williams checked himself into a renewal center just a few weeks ago, but his battle with addiction dated back more than 30 years. He struggled with cocaine and alcohol abuse in the early ’80s, after his rise to fame on Mork and Mindy.
"Cocaine for me was a place to hide. Most people get hyper on coke. It slowed me down,"Williams told People in 1988, the magazine recalled in a 2006 piece about the actor seeking treatment (again) for alcohol addiction.
Williams was even with John Belushi during the Saturday Night Live star’s all-night cocaine and heroin binge that led to his fatal drug overdose.
Belushi’s death and Williams’s then-wife Valerie’s pregnancy with the couple’s son, Zak, forced the comedian to quit cocaine and alcohol cold turkey.
"The Belushi tragedy was frightening," Williams told People. “His death scared a whole group of show-business people. It caused a big exodus from drugs. And for me, there was the baby coming. I knew I couldn’t be a father and live that sort of life.”
Williams even joked about the dangers of cocaine addiction in his Live at the Met stand-up performance (video below).
After 20 years of sobriety, though, Williams checked himself into rehab for alcohol abuse in 2006.
He later told the New York Times that he hadn’t confronted the underlying issues at the root of his addiction.
“There was still, in the background, this voice, like, ‘Psst,’ ” he told the newspaper. “So when I relapsed, I went back hard. The one thing I hadn’t dealt with was, how honest do you want to live?”