Although he was known throughout the world as one of the most beloved, prolific musicians in the industry, Ray Charles did not live a life free of struggles. In addition to being blind since the age of seven, Charles was forced to confront a heroin addiction during the early part of his life that threatened to derail his career before it had a chance to reach new heights.
The Heroin Addiction of Ray Charles
In 1965, Ray Charles had already been arrested twice for possession of heroin when Los Angeles police busted him a third time when he attempted to buy the drug from a street level dealer. But fortunately, Ray Charles drug addiction did not land him hard jail time, but a stint at as Southern California drug rehab center and attempt to kick the habit.
How Ray Charles Overcame his Heroin Problem
Although few details are known regarding the specifics of the time Ray Charles spent in Los Angeles heroin addiction treatment, it was likely that he would have first gone through heroin detox in order to “get clean” and overcome his heroin physical addiction. Then, a great deal of counseling would have been required to teach Ray how to make better decisions about drug use. In the entertainment industry, temptation lies around every corner, so Charles would have needed to really apply himself to the lessons being taught during this portion of heroin addiction treatment. Finally, Ray Charles may have attended 12-step group meetings during and after drug rehab as a means of getting the support he needed to maintain sobriety. AA and NA groups are highly confidential, and this being the age well before the era of paparazzi, Ray would have been able to get the support he needed at regular meetings of these programs.
Ray Charles left heroin drug rehab a new man – and would go on to receive the kind of fandom and adulation that very few artists enjoy. Hollywood even made a film about his life, portrayed with Oscar-winning intensity by Jamie Foxx. Charles died of natural causes in 2004, but one must seriously imagine how long he would have lived had he not entered into treatment almost 40 years sooner. It would have been an entirely different story had Ray Charles heroin addiction not been treated earlier.