Actor Robert Downey Jr. teaches that it's never too late to change your life

"Remember that just because you hit rock bottom doesn't mean you have to stay there," actor Robert Downey Jr. says.

Before donning the red Iron Man suit, Downey had hit rock bottom. He famously battled addiction — since the age of 8. He was arrested in June 1996 after, upon searching his car, police found heroin, cocaine and an unloaded .357 Magnum. In 2001, he was again arrested after wandering around in a barefoot daze through Culver City, Calif. and, afterward, checked himself into rehab.

Downey, now sober since 2003 and more successful than ever, said of his turning point, "‘You know what? I don’t think I can continue doing this.’ And I reached out for help, and I ran with it."

"It’s not that difficult to overcome these seemingly ghastly problems. What’s hard is to decide to do it. ... Job one is get out of that cave. A lot of people do get out but don’t change. So the thing is to get out and recognize the significance of that aggressive denial.”

He credits therapy, meditation, 12-step recovery programs, yoga, the practice of Wing Chun kung fu and, especially, his wife Susan for helping him overcome his drug and alcohol habits.

Since his recovery, Downey got married in 2005 (and, yes, they're still together), had two kids and starred in more than 20 movies. Not only that but, because of his success and because he overcame his demons, he has been able to make others' lives better as well. Most recently, on Monday, Downey and "Civil War" co-star Chris Evans visited a teen fan, who is battling leukemia, at his home.

Downey's life teaches that, no matter how bad things may seem right now or how many mistakes you have made, it's never too late to pull yourself out and turn your life around.

"The lesson is that you can still make mistakes and be forgiven," Downey said.

If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, visit www.addictionrecoveryguide.org/resources/state/ for a by-state list of resources.


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