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Actor Wes Bentley Opens Up About Struggling With Heroin Addiction

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Actor Wes Bentley was once one of the most promising young talents in Hollywood before his addiction to heroin led to him quickly plummeting out of the industry. Now sober, Bentley has rejuvenated his career and reclaimed his life, but not without a fresh perspective that he is eager to share. He recently sat down with The Huffington Post to talk about his battle with addiction in the hopes of inspiring others who find themselves in the same position.

A rising star sent spiraling into addiction

At the turn of the millennium, Wes Bentley was a rising star in the entertainment world fresh off of a leading role in the Oscar-winning film American Beauty. The film’s staggering success jumpstarted Bentley’s career and nearly decimated it all at once. Barely an adult, the 21-year-old Bentley was suddenly in high demand in Hollywood and facing a load of pressure.

In order to cope with the mounting expectations, Bentley turned to drugs. It happened fast, but it held on firm. Last August, he told The Hollywood Reporter that his heroin addiction “happened in a matter of days.” Unfortunately, it would last much longer, taking a serious toll on his professional life. His work became sporadic. He only appeared in a total of three films between 2002 and 2007. “I wasn’t bringing my A game to any of them,” he recalled in the Hollywood Reporter interview. “I don’t know if I was bringing my B game. I just kind of didn’t care and [was] coasting.”

As Bentley’s work continued to suffer due to his deep addiction, his personal life began to unravel as well. In 2008, his best friend Heath Ledger lost his life to a prescription drug overdose, burying Bentley further beneath his own addiction. Soon thereafter, Bentley was arrested for heroin possession. Then his wife divorced him. He was in debt with the IRS. He’d hit rock bottom.

Bentley finds hope and fuels recovery in a foreign place

Taking the only work he could get at the time, Bentley went off to Argentina to work on a film called There Be Dragons. It was there that he finally found the will to fight back against his addiction after listening to a colleague talk about his own trials, tribulations and ultimate redemption. Bentley was inspired by the man’s zeal for life and yearned for the same thing, so he returned to Los Angeles to detox on his own. After an excruciating detox period, he returned to Argentina and began attending meetings with that same colleague.

Since his awakening, Bentley has stayed sober and reinserted himself into Hollywood relevance, scoring roles in recent blockbusters such as The Hunger Games and Interstellar. He has even remarried and now has a three-year-old son; his family is an important motivator for staying clean.

It is not the only thing that drives him, though, which he articulated in his recent conversation with The Huffington Post. He is doing this as much for others as he is for himself, hoping that his comeback can serve as an inspiration to the thousands of people dealing with the depths of addiction.

“There is a stigma that it’s the one you can’t beat, and it is an awful one,” Bentley said of heroin addiction. “But that’s partly why I wanted to talk about it, because there’s people out there who are still addicted, and they might not think you can get past it either. But I want to show them that you can.”

That is not to say that Bentley believes he is cured, just that he has found the inspiration and the means to overcome potential triggers. “I mean, I have to work on it every day still, as you know, but I just want people out there to know … that it is beatable and you can live an amazing, happy life.”

Getting help

As a famous actor, Wes Bentley is an outlier of society, but his struggle with addiction is a common story. You don’t have to be a Hollywood hit to have everything you love and have worked for ripped away in the blink of an eye by a disease as devastating as addiction. Nor do you have to be a celebrity to overcome that disease. That’s the message Bentley hopes to make clear, and it is one we are eager to echo. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or substance abuse, it is never too late to achieve redemption. Get the support you need today. Call The Watershed at 1-800-861-1768.

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