Los Angeles: His is one of the greatest comeback stories in Hollywood but superstar Robert Downey Jr can never forget his ugly struggle with drugs and alcohol addiction which almost ruined his life.
The 45-year-old actor, who has been sober for close to five years, began acting at a small age and even went on to land an Academy nomination for his role as Charlie Chaplin in the 1992 film `Chaplin` but his career swiftly went downhill with his excessive drug use, Us magazine reported.
Downey was frequently arrested on drug-related charges and did several rehab stints between 1996 to 2001 to break from the habit. After doing supporting roles in mainstream films like `Gothika` and `Zodiac`, the actor made a successful comback with his title role in `Iron Man` in 2007.
"Not having done drugs for literally five or six years is a lifetime. I think of myself as someone who has no desire, use for or conscious memory of that life. And yet I don`t shut the door on it, and I don`t pretend it didn`t happen," Downey says in an interview to Playboy magazine.
Downey says he still has "very strong" recollections of his former self, whom he describes as a "messed-up kid…lost, lost in narcotics."
The actor says that even today he feels like "a veteran of a war that is difficult to discuss with people who haven`t been there."
The `Tropic Thunder` star does not take his sobriety for granted. "Looking back, I think, `Oh my God, I could have been done. I could have been so fried and so bad off and, oh my God, such a cautionary tale. And I still could be."
Downey, who has a son, Indio, 17, and has been wed to producer Susan Levin for five years, says that an integral part to staying clean: "You take responsibility, whether
you`re outraged by the results or not."
He also relies on self-discipline, which he says is "about respect. It`s not even about self-respect; it`s about respect for life and all it offers."
The actor, who returns on the big screen next month in `Due Date`, a comedy by the director of The Hangover, feels that it is the best phase in his life.
"My age and my recent set of experiences ... have left me feeling I`m in the zone. This is just the sweet spot of my career and my life so far, and strangely, they`ve come at the