Is Being “California Sober” Really Being In Recovery?
The idea of somebody who is in recovery from addiction and describes...
From playing big brother Brand in The Goonies to super villain Thanos in the Avengers series, Josh Brolin has been a household name in film and entertainment for decades. Brolin made his debut as a fresh-faced 17-year-old in 1985, and has starred in dozens of projects since, ranging from westerns to dramas to horror movies and thrillers.
Brolin quickly found success in film—even earning an Oscar nomination for 2008’s No Country for Old Men—though behind the scenes of his life in the public eye, he was struggling with alcohol abuse. In 2013, Brolin’s alcoholism came to a breaking point; he was arrested for public intoxication on New Year’s Day, and would enter addiction rehab later that year.
Shortly before Brolin entered rehab, he also suffered the breakdown of his marriage to actress Diane Lane. At the time, he told The Guardian that going to rehab made him reflect on his life’s decisions, saying, “It made me think of a lot of things. My mom dying when I was in my 20s. All the impact that had on me that I hadn’t moved past; I was always such a momma’s boy. But I realized that I was on a destructive path. I knew that I had to change and mature. It was like I stepped back and saw the hamster wheel.”
The son of actor James Brolin and activist Jane Cameron, Josh Brolin grew up in California, and was exposed to drug use in his friend group at an early age as a member of a surf gange. In the same interview with The Guardian, he admitted that he had tried heroin in the past and had robbed cars, stating, “That sounds so horrible when you put it like that. But yeah, I tried heroin. I mean, I never got into it and I never died from it, which is a good thing. I’ve had 19 friends who died. Most of those guys I grew up with, they’re all dead now.”
Over time, though, Brolin’s dependence on alcohol grew. Prior to entering rehab in 2013, Brolin was involved in a drunken public altercation at a bar, and his marriage to actress Diane Lane was heading toward divorce. After completing treatment, Brolin created a commitment to sobriety that has now endured for eight years.
On milestone anniversaries, Brolin has reflected on his progress on social media, often sharing poetic thoughts on his experiences. At his five-year sober milestone in 2019, he shared an old photo of himself intoxicated, saying in part being drunk felt like, “[…] you can’t remember anything you did so you roll out of bed over last night’s urine and you dial your best friend’s phone number because you recall him lifting you over his head, your whole self, before you hit and broke through the drywall and, you think, a large aquarium. And the phone on the other end rings and he picks it up, that clambering for a phone, the clumsiness of a hardline, and you say: ‘What did I do last night?!’”
Now sober for eight years, Brolin has taken to Instagram again to share his thoughts. Now 53 years old, Brolin is remarried and a father of four, including two adult children from his prior marriage and two young daughters with his current wife.
The effect that sobriety has on his children’s lives is making all the difference for Brolin, as he wrote in part that, “And sobriety is when your children look at you and trust what they see (you can see it in their pupils, and the way they stand before you) — that they know they are not being cultivated into some idea but celebrated for the original garden they are growing into. Sobriety is about living better than your remembrance of what your greatest drunk ever was — an everyday malleability into gratitude for what is.”
As he shares his experiences with the world and beautifully articulates what it means to get sober—and remain sober—Brolin paints a picture of possibility and hope for many.
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