Addiction Services Blog

Wes Bentley in Recovery From Heroin

Although we know quite a bit about addiction today compared to years past, there are still a number of misconceptions about the disease among the general public. The disease model of addiction seems to be difficult to reconcile with the widespread perception that addiction is primarily a behavioral and, therefore, a moral problem. This has been a major contributor to the pervading stigma that exists against those who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction. But the fact of the matter is that addiction is a brain disease that anyone could develop. It can occur in anyone no matter their age, socioeconomic background, religion, sexual orientation, political disposition, and so on. In short, it’s an indiscriminate disease that has affected the entire demographic spectrum, even celebrities, one in particular who we are going to be talking about today is actor Wes Bentley.

In addition to addiction, another cultural phenomenon that has taken root in the U.S. is a widespread obsession with celebrities. Whether it’s because people imagine themselves as celebrities or because their curiosities reach the point of infatuation, many Americans become personally invested in the lives of the people they see in movies, on television, and on the radio. For some, it goes far beyond a healthy curiosity; some get quite fixated on certain celebrities. But whichever the case may be, the fact is that through the various media sources available we’re able to learn more about our various celebrities — the good and the bad — than ever before. In instances when celebrities have histories with addiction, it can be enlightening to individuals who are struggling with the disease themselves.

Who is Wes Bentley?


If you were born in or before the 1980s, you’ll probably recall a number of 1990s films that remain favorites of cinephiles and on many best-of lists even today. Films like Clueless, Cruel Intentions, and American Pie are just a few that remain part of the contemporary cultural zeitgeist. However, one of the most artistic and groundbreaking films of the 1990s is undoubtedly American Beauty, which tells the story of one small town family that, despite having achieved what many of us would call the ‘American Dream’, finds themselves in suburban hell. Besides the nuanced performance by Kevin Spacey, one of the most notable and intriguing features of the film was the boy living next door named Ricky Fitts.

Played by Wes Bentley, Ricky Fitts wasn’t actually the break-out role for the fledgling actor, but it’s certainly the first role he played that would be widely remembered. Bentley was just 20 years old at the time American Beauty was filmed and the widespread acclaim American Beauty received almost unanimously should have catapulted him into immediate stardom. After all, Bentley hailed from Little Rock, Arkansas, the son of a minister and a chaplain. However, instead of steamrolling the success he experienced with his portrayal of Ricky Fitts into other projects, Bentley fell prey to the underbelly of Hollywood. Like many others before him, the rapid success of being part of an Oscar-winning film led to Bentley losing almost ten years of his life to a severe substance abuse problem.

Wes Bentley’s Struggles with Alcohol and Heroin


After he broke into the biz in a big way with American Beauty, Bentley took a major misstep and started spiraling downward into a pit of addiction. Specifically, the actor’s substances of choice were alcohol and heroin. Although he appeared in a couple minor roles over the next several years — virtually all of which were overlooked by the masses — Wes Bentley got almost no work during this period of his addiction, which lasted almost ten years total. In other words, Bentley went from being the “it” boy of 1999 to a heroin addict and alcoholic by just a year later.

In 2001, Bentley married fellow actor Jennifer Quanz, but the relationship was doomed before it even began due to the would-be actor’s substance abuse problem. During this period in the 2000s, Bentley met and became best friends with another actor who would meet a very tragic end: Heath Ledger. Over the course of his decade of narcotics addiction, many of Bentley’s struggles became quite public, such as when he was arrested and charged with possession of heroin in 2009, also the same year that his marriage with Jennifer Quanz ended. There came a point in time, Bentley now says, when he was holed up in a squalid apartment, withdrawing from heroin and other drugs, and he realized that he needed to get help. It was the 2008 death of his best friend Heath Ledger that was his wake-up call, spurring him into a program so that he would not meet the same untimely fate.

movie theater tickets with popcorn

A Path to Recovery


At a point, Bentley pleaded with a friend to help him. He confessed his addictions with heroin and alcohol, asking for help before he lost his life like Ledger the year before. His friend helped him to find a twelve-step program to join. According to Bentley’s recent statements, he was extremely successful in the program. He was able to get clean while working the Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous, and with the support of his friends and loved ones, was able to carve out a life for himself in Hollywood that didn’t involve the use of heroin, the abuse of alcohol, or any other mind-altering substances.

Shortly after joining a twelve-step program, Wes Bentley began booking more jobs. He had appeared as a villain in Ghost Rider in 2007, but after getting sober, Bentley appeared as Seneca Crane in The Hunger Games (2012). After his successful and acclaimed performance in the first installment of the Hunger Games franchise, Bentley appeared in Christopher Nolan’s recent space epic Interstellar alongside the likes of Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain. Last fall, Bentley accepted a role in the wildly popular anthology series on FX called American Horror Story, which was in its fifth season subtitled Hotel; Bentley’s character was a detective looking into the murderous mysteries centered around a mysterious hotel, which happened to be the residence of the ominous Countess, played by Lady Gaga. It’s been reported that Bentley will be appearing in the upcoming season of American Horror Story that debuts this September and is in Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of Pete’s Dragon.

Wes Bentley Opens Up About His Past Addiction


He’s not the only celebrity to have suffered from a substance abuse problem and been able to make a comeback. However, Wes Bentley is one of the very few who have spoken openly and candidly about his struggles with heroin and alcohol addiction as well as his ongoing recovery. When public figures are open with their past substance abuse problems while showing that they’ve been able to rise above, it gives hope to those of us who aren’t celebrities and who have also had battles with this deadly disease.

If you or someone you love would like to discuss the treatment options that are available, call Sober Services toll-free at (877) 212-5798. We have a team of specialists available anytime, day or night, to take your call and help you or your loved one begin the journey back to sobriety and health.
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The 12 Steps of AA, Breakdown Of Each Step!
The 12 Steps of AA, Breakdown Of Each Step!

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