Ray Charles Heroin Addiction
Ray Charles had many challenges to overcome in the music industry.
He was an African American trying to break into a world dominated
by white men. He was blind, growing up in poverty, and struggling
to make his way in the world. There were many challenges that
he faced growing up that few people could even fathom and yet
he appeared to do so with style, elegance, and grace.
Yet Ray Charles also succumbed to the powerful temptations of
drugs when he became addicted to heroin. It is commonly reported
that he developed this powerful, and dangerous, addiction shortly
after the death of his beloved mother in 1946.
Ray Charles's story of addiction is somewhat different than the
average drug addict's. The reason for this is that, while he seemed
to attempt to rehab from time to time, he didn't make any major
concerted effort until his third drug bust for possession, which
took place in Boston in 1964, led him to finally decide to quit.
Heroin is one of the most powerfully
What makes his story so much different than most others who have
become addicted to heroin is that the drug itself alters the neural
pathways in the brain. In other words, the drug itself causes
a physical change in the brain, which usually means that the body
actually needs to the drug to function. In some of today's rehab
clinics, heroin addicts are prescribed methadone in order to stay
away from the more devastating and dangerous drug heroin.
Ray Charles, however, entered a drug clinic in L.A. in 1964 and
walked out clean and sober. He didn't require any follow up and
basically quit the most dangerous and addictive drug cold turkey.
He once stated that quitting smoking for him was much harder than
Not without his staples
Of course, Ray Charles did have one minor addiction that remained
with him long after his heroin using days were over and that was
coffee with a splash of gin added, daily. Considering the life
that Ray Charles led from early childhood, and then comparing
that upbringing and the struggles that he endured to musicians
and other celebrities today who live a charmed life for the most
part from their childhood through adult life, it is remarkable
that someone with so many obstacles, pain, and sacrifice laid
out before him could quit so readily after so many years.
This leads us back to the principle that a person must want to
quit using drugs or alcohol before any type of rehab will be effective.
If there is no desire to improve or to better one's life, then
there will be no chance at living that kind of dream.
Ray Charles in life stands as a testimony to the power of will
over substance abuse. He is one of the leaders in famous
celebrity recoveries. It is a mystery why some people can
stop cold turkey and just walk away from drug and alcohol addiction
the rest of their lives while others are in and out of rehab until
the day they die.
Ray Charles, in overcoming his addiction, provides an inspiring
story of hope to millions who suffer with similar substance abuse