Tom Sizemore’s Addiction Story

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He has one of those recognizable faces that don’t immediately call to mind a name. But you’ve seen him in Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down and several other roles as a character actor. One particular role sticks out – he plays himself, in real life, in the third season (2010) of Celebrity Rehab.

Tom Sizemore’s extensive filmography was almost exceeded by the long list of drugs he’d abused before arriving on Dr. Drew Pinsky’s show - opiates, including heroin; benzodiazepines (klonopin); methamphetamine, marijuana and cocaine.

By 2011, Sizemore was claiming 14 months of sobriety and working on a tell-all book about his experiences. The book, “By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There” hit the shelves this month.

Back from the depths

Is it the luck of the draw? Karma? The help and support of those around us? With so many examples of celebrities and others who crash and burn, it’s inspiring to read Sizemore’s story. His days were a collection of overdoses and suicide attempts. He spent time in prison and homeless. This went on for years, but somehow he managed to escape. The “miracle” in the title is no exaggeration.

His book doesn’t hold back, telling the story in detail – perhaps too much detail. There’s no question he fell into the same trap that other celebrities did, the trap of substance abuse that killed Heath Ledger, Michael Jackson, Chris Farley and others. Perhaps the unvarnished truth is warranted, especially since readers familiar with the disease will recognize themselves in the narrative. All addicts are different, but all addictions end up the same.

Celebrity drug culture

Sizemore is accused by some reviewers of being self-centered and exploiting his relationships with other notables to sell a book for quick cash. Perhaps. It wouldn’t be the first time an addict was accused of considering only his or her own best interests. And there is a bit of gratuitous name dropping. But behind the drama, readers will find some insight into the Hollywood drug culture and how stars use their fame to get what they want.

Sharing cocaine with Robert Downey Jr. or being a drug-buddy with other famous names is par for the course. Of course there’s a druggie sub-culture in Hollywood – where else would the successful be if it weren’t hobnobbing with others who can afford any forbidden pleasure that strikes their fancy?

Underneath this, and because Sizemore doesn’t back off from showing his own tragic flaws, we come to grips with just how frail human beings are, even when those human beings are held up and admired for their talents.

Will it stick?

There’s always the danger of relapse, and one never knows if the story is really over. His co-author, Anna David, who writes and edits at the addiction site The Fix, talked about her experience writing with Sizemore:

He's a total softie who cries openly, he reads constantly and can quote books I'm too intimidated to even consider reading ... All that being said, I know he's no saint: I'm all too familiar with the trouble he's gotten into, and I've seen him lose his temper. I just think he's incredibly misunderstood.

Over 50 now, and with a career it will take some time and effort to salvage, Sizemore has a better chance than some others. Addiction wears you out. Staying with it, especially at the level he did, takes a toll. Age and lack of energy might help him as much as the treatment he’s received. At least we can hope so.

So will the story end with an Oscar or an overdose? There’s no way to tell. It’s doubtful even Sizemore himself knows the answer to that question. Let’s pray for the Oscar instead of the morgue.

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