Adam Hicks’ Journey from Rock Bottom to Recovery

Former child star, singer, songwriter, and rapper Adam Hicks talks opens up about his mental health and addiction struggles. In 2018, Adam found himself facing involuntary institutionalization and incarceration after being charged with robbery. But what led him to this moment was a lifelong battle with anxiety and a series of personal tragedies that fueled his substance use and addiction.

Here is Adam’s story about coming back from rock bottom and his journey of personal discovery, recovery, and redemption.

Early Stardom and Coping with Anxiety

Adam’s entry into Hollywood started as an escape and hobby for him. Still, like many child actors, his career started early, and soon, he found himself putting in 12-hour days almost every day of the week. It didn’t leave much time for typical childhood experiences or going to school. After suffering his first panic attack at age 8, he started searching for ways to manage his symptoms. By age 13, Adam began to use alcohol to cope with the stresses of his career and to self-medicate his crippling anxiety.

“I Thought I Had it Under Control. Until I Didn’t.”

Adam started drinking around age 13. “I kept it a secret,” he said. What began as a way to take the edge off his anxiety slowly turned into a habit. “It progressed into constantly drinking, consistently drinking, and just not getting enough of alcohol,” said Adam.

Adam’s dad had been prescribed Xanax to manage his anxiety symptoms and has been on and off benzodiazepines for decades. Adam followed suit and began using Xanax to help cope with his debilitating anxiety. Eventually, Xanax wasn’t enough. “At first, it started where I was hungover, and then I would take the Xanax for the anxiety of the hangover. Then I started mixing Xanax with alcohol, and that’s when things began to get out of control.”

“My Life Fell Apart”

Adam had been struggling with the effects of his mental health issues for quite some time. Despite using alcohol and Xanax to cope, he believed that he had his substance use under control. However, a series of tragedies ultimately triggered a spiral of escalating drug and alcohol use. “I was struggling with addiction, and my personal life was falling apart, and because it was falling apart, it was fueling my addiction.”

The final straw was the death of Adam’s mother, “I felt this switch after my mother died. It felt like the alcohol and the Xanax started to affect me differently. It wasn’t the same buzz. It wasn’t the same drunk.” Adam’s use continued to escalate, and eventually, he was experiencing delusions. “I was going in and out of these continuous delusional episodes,” he said. “It got to the point where I was in full-blown psychosis, and I didn’t know how I’d gotten there or where I was or what exactly was going. Because once you’re in it, it’s hard to differentiate. Next thing I know, I’m arrested.”

Rock Bottom and the Journey to Recovery

Adam’s mental health deteriorated to the point where he was deemed unfit to stand trial for his arrest. He was sent to a state hospital, where his recovery journey began. “ I was sent to a state hospital where I was put on court-ordered medication, and that’s where the recovery and the journey really started.”

Eventually, Adam ended up serving time in prison for his offense. But inside, he had time to reflect on the events that led him to this point. “[Addiction] is a progression. It progresses and gets worse and worse and worse and worse and worse. I thought I had control of it. I felt like I had control until I had no control at all, and I had no idea what was going on. And it happened very, very quickly.”

However, prison was what gave Adam a second chance. “Jail saved my life because it turned me in the direction of complete sobriety.”

“Sober is the Only Way I Can Live”

While in jail, Adam had to come to terms with the trauma and tremendous loss he’d experienced — all while substance-free. “[I had] to process all of this and think about it, with a clear and level head, for the first time,” he said. But in the grief process, he found focus for the first time, too. “I had to figure out the changes I would have to make sure something like this never happens again. This was a major thing for me, figuring out what I was going to do to make my personal mental health better and live a sober life.”

Since getting out, Adam has set himself up to live a healthy life. “I’ve put up barriers to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again. I’m on medication. I go to therapy. I have a small group of friends. I don’t go to bars or live that lifestyle anymore.” He admits it isn’t easy but says, “[It’s ] the only way I can live.”

“If One Person Finds Hope, Then it’s Worth it.”

Adam believes that recognizing the early signs of someone struggling can get people the help they need before things get out of control. He advises, “See the early signs. I had so many early signs and tried to self-medicate (don’t self-medicate). I didn’t want to tell people about my problems, but getting help at a young age would’ve saved me from these problems.”

Adam hopes that his story inspires other people to start talking about mental health and addiction. He said, “Somebody may get a little hope from my story. And if that one person gets a little bit of hope, then it’s all worth it.” Through that conversation, he hopes to inspire people to get the help they need because there is a rich and rewarding life at the end of it.

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