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5 Fictional Characters who Struggled with Addiction

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Stories are one of the most powerful sources of inspiration we have to draw upon. When protagonists face and subsequently overcome seemingly impossible challenges, it can provide a guiding light as we attempt to overcome our own struggles. For those that struggle with addiction, it can especially difficult to envisage an end of dependency. Thankfully, these fictional characters who struggled with addiction can help demonstrate how a person can overcome their personal challenges in order to walk the road to recovery.

  1. Charlie Pace, LOST

Each of the characters on ABC’s 2007 series LOST had their own personal demons with which to contend. While many of the characters struggled with personal relationships, Charlie Pace had to overcome his addiction to heroin. A member of the one-hit-wonder band Driveshaft, Charlie followed his older brother Liam into an addiction to heroin. A few years later, his brother had enrolled in an addiction recovery program and gotten clean, but Charlie was still addicted — in fact, he was in the bathroom using drugs when Oceanic 815 went down.

After surviving the plane crash, Charlie would regularly sneak off to use heroin, until he was caught by Locke, another survivor, in the first season episode “The Moth.” Locke took Charlie’s stash, but told him that he would give back the drugs if Charlie asked three times, since it ultimately had to be Charlie’s decision to stay clean. At the end of the episode, Charlie asks Locke to return the heroin a third time, but when Locke hands the baggie of drugs over, Charlie throws it in the fire, demonstrating that he has overcome his addiction.

  1. Donald Gately, Infinite Jest

David Foster Wallace’s hefty 1996 novel Infinite Jest is filled with a variety of characters, including over a dozen recovering addicts who live in the Ennet House Drug and Alcohol Recovery House (sic). Don Gately is the counsellor in residence at Ennet House, himself a recovering narcotic addict. Over the course of the novel, Gately provides plenty of insight into the mechanisms of 12-Step programs, and the readers gets to see Gately attend several of these meetings, as well discuss the nature of the programs with others who live in Ennet House.

  1. Tony Stark, the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Billionaire playboy Tony Stark was an incorrigible partier and international arms dealer until he was captured by terrorists. It was there that he realized the error of his ways and designed a power suit, catapulting him to worldwide fame as the invincible Iron Man. However, while he may be an international businessman and superhero, Stark still struggles with his relationship with alcohol. At several key points throughout the series of movies, we see Stark reach for a drink (such as during a climactic confrontation with Loki in 2015’s Avengers). We have also seen hints that Stark may suffers from co-occurring mental health issues alongside his addiction, suggesting that when Iron Man puts down the bottle and considers a substance abuse treatment center, he should select one that provides dual diagnosis therapy in order to maximize his success in attaining recovery.

  1. Sherlock Holmes, the Sherlock Holmes canon

Perhaps the most famous fictional detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes has become a household name. However, while almost everyone is familiar with his illustrious detection career, fewer are aware that Holmes suffered a longstanding addiction to opiates. According to Holmes, he would use opiates to distract himself “from the dull routine of existence” when he didn’t have a case to completely occupy his mind. This is an excuse commonly used by addicts to justify continued self-medication. While opium was legal in London at the time the Holmes stories were set, the stories do not take the drug use in stride: Watson, best friend of Holmes and a doctor, tries to convince Holmes not to continue abusing opiates on several occasions, telling his friend that prolonged use may result in permanent damage. Eventually, Watson succeeds in convincing his friend to stay off drugs, but he mentions that while the addiction may be in check, it was not eradicated, but merely “sleeping.”

  1. Barney Gumble, The Simpsons

While many of the characters on the long-running Simpsons struggle alcohol or drug dependence, once sits above them all: Homer’s best friend and perpetual barfly, Barney Gumble. Occupying a permanent position at Moe’s Tavern, Barney has rarely held a job, occasionally earning beer money by donating sperm or plowing snow. Nevertheless, alcohol has repeatedly been shown to hamper Barney’s life, as when a dream gig as an astronaut with NASA was compromised due to Barney’s alcoholism. A self-identified alcoholic, Barney eventually decided he was done with alcohol ruining his life, and joined an addiction recovery program in order to gain sobriety.

Make Your Dreams of Sobriety a Reality!

Are you struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol? Getting sober doesn’t have to be a fantasy. At one of the drug abuse treatment facilities in the Right Path network, you’ll be provided with the necessary tools to begin your journey to sobriety. Don’t wait any longer; contact Right Path today!

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