Johnny Depp and Substance Abuse. What we can learn.

Note: One need not care for Hollywood and its often amoral actors in the slightest to have sympathy for victims of addictions in general. Many of us know or love persons who have suffered—and made others suffer— from addictions. Christians are no more immune to it than their enemies. Some jump into it. Other slide. Promising lives are often utterly ruined, or threaten to become so.

Johnny Depp shows that no amount of money can buy lasting happiness. Nor can fame, much less romanticizing it all. One of Depp’s most important mentors was the effete, self-indulgent Hunter S. Thompson who, after decades romanticizing booze and drug use, blew out his own brains. One hopes Johnny Depp (or his hellish friend Marilyn Manson) doesn’t end the same way.

Johnny Depp: I Started Taking Drugs “at a Very Young Age”. — Lasting Recovery.

“It has been well-reported and I have been open about my challenges with alcoholism and addiction throughout my life. In fact, I started drinking and taking drugs when I was still a child. I am not in any way embarrassed to say this.” ~ Johnny Depp

Movie star Johnny Depp has lived what seems to be an enviable life — rich, handsome, and ultra-famous for his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise.

But he has also had more than his share of well-documented struggles with substance abuse, which often makes him cannon fodder for the tabloids. For example, it has been reported that bon vivant Depp spends over $30,000 a month on wine.

Now 57, Depp is going through a very painful and very public libel suit involving claims of spousal abuse against his ex-wife, Aquaman star Amber Heard. Vicious allegations are being hurled from both sides, and Depp recently had to take the witness stand in his own defense. One of the things he was questioned about was how he “found drugs and alcohol” early in life.

“It was Not a Particularly Stable or Secure or Safe Home Life”

“My mother used to ask me to go and get her ‘nerve pills’ and I think I was around the age of 11 that it dawned on me that ‘nerve pills’ were calming her nerves, so I brought her her nerve pills and I took one and that began [my drug use].” ~ Johnny Depp

There are several important revelations in Depp’s courtroom statement.

First, there is the fact that his mother evidently had “nerve” issues, i.e., anxiety. This is significant because like addictive disorders, anxiety, and other mental illnesses tend to run in families. To deal with the emotional pain of clinical anxiety, sufferers abuse substances at a much higher rate than the general population.

This is borne out in Depp’s own words when he said that his early alcohol and drug use was “the only way that I found to numb the pain.”

Second, the most common “nerve pills” when Depp was a child were barbiturates such as Luminal or the then-newer benzodiazepines Librium or Valium.

But tranquilizers like barbiturates or “benzos” are extremely habit-forming, even when taken exactly as directed. In fact, dependence can develop in a matter of weeks, easily paving the way for abuse and addiction.

Third, and perhaps most influential in Depp’s individual case is the fact that he started misusing his mother’s prescription medication when he was only 11 years old.

At that prepubescent age, the human brain is still developing and is particularly vulnerable to the effects of mind-altering substances. In a very real way, Johnny Depp the boy contributed to the later struggles with addiction faced by Johnny Depp the man.

This is because early substance use triggers changes that “prime” the brain for more alcohol and drugs. For example, a child who drinks before the age of 15 is six times more likely to develop an Alcohol Use Disorder at some point as one who waits until age 21 or older. Likewise, teenagers who use marijuana before they turn 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop a Cannabis Use Disorder.

“It was a Pretty Dark Time for Me”

“I was poisoning myself beyond belief…There was a lot of liquor. A lot of liquor. I was pretty unhealthy” ~ Read it all

—- Roger Kimball on The Beat Generation, Cultural Catastrophe