"Stranger Things" Star Shares "Most Important" Thing He Learned From Addiction
Through his music and social media, he has an important message to share.
Until recently, Jamie Campbell Bower was best known for his roles in Twilight, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. No longer an "up-and-coming actor," Bower has arrived on the main stage thanks to his standout performance on season four of the Netflix hit Stranger Things. Yet for all of his successes, the actor admits his path to stardom hasn't always been easy. Now, he's opening up about his battle with addiction and the hard-won lessons he's gleaned on his seven-year sobriety journey. Read on to learn what he now says is the "most important" thing he learned from addiction and mental illness, and for the message he's sharing with others through his music.
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Bower has opened up about living with addiction and recovery.
Bower took to Twitter this week to reflect on a difficult chapter in his past: one marked by addiction, mental health issues, and disordered eating. In a two-part Jul. 27 post, the actor shared that his addiction coincided with his early rise to fame, just as the Twilight series swept the nation. "12 and a half years ago I was in active addiction," Bower began. "Hurting myself and those around me who I loved the most. It got so bad that eventually I ended up in a hospital for mental health. I am now 7 1/2 years clean and sober. I have made many mistakes in my life," the actor admitted.
"But each day is a chance to start again. Atone for mistakes and grow," he continued. "For anyone who wakes up thinking 'oh god not again' I promise you there's a way. I'm so grateful to be where I am, I'm so grateful to be sober. I'm so grateful to be," Bower said. "Remember, we are all works in progress," he told his 950,000 followers.
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He says this is the "most important" thing he learned from his addiction.
Bower now uses his fame as an actor and musician—he's lead singer for the punk band Counterfeit—to shed light on mental health and addiction issues. He's also shared some of the key coping tools he's acquired, in hopes that his fans will find healthier paths for themselves.
"I'm in recovery, so one of the first things that they teach you when you're in recovery is to be super honest about what it is that you're feeling, like guilt, shame, fear, sadness, whatever it is," he explained in a 2019 interview with i-D. "The most important thing is, and it's the hardest thing to do, is just express exactly what it is that you're feeling."
He says he now applies that lesson in his creative life.
Bower says that some of those lessons also translate into his creative life as an actor and musician. "It's about setting boundaries for myself and those around me, and being as honest and genuine in whatever I'm doing as possible," he told the magazine. "Even now I'm growing and looking for roles and projects that speak to me so that when I'm going into them I'm giving my true true self, because that's what fuels me, and I'm exploring that through the medium of art in whatever way possible."
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His music shares his message of hope with others.
Bower's difficult past has found its way into his career in more ways than one. In 2019, Counterfeit recorded a song called "It Gets Better," which expressly tackled themes of mental health and addiction. "If you've seen the bottom, if you've given up/Believe me, my sister, there is hope for us," Bower wrote in the lyrics.
Bower sees this as a way of paying his good fortune forward. "I go out there and I try to spread the same message that's been blessed to me. Being in recovery and going through that: I've been given a strength by those people around me and that's what I want to push out," he shared in a 2020 interview with Gigwise. "Look, it's okay to talk about your feelings. It's not a weakness. If you have something in your life that's pulling you down, you can get rid of it. Because a lot of people in life are very very stuck. And I know how that feels."
Shedding the veneer of celebrity, Bower strives to connect with his audiences on a deeper level when he performs onstage, he says. "You're not alone in whatever it is that you're going through," he said. "There's no shame in talking about that at all."