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On Robert Downey Junior's Son's Arrest: Is It Genetics or Growing Up Privileged in Hollywood?

It’s no mystery West Hollywood has probably seen its fair share of parties. And it’s sure there is no shortage of celebrity youths living it up, but how much is to blame on the scenery and how much on the genetics? Following his 20-year-old son Indio Downey being arrested on charges of possession of cocaine over the weekend, Iron Man actor and recovering addict Robert Downey Jr. released a press statement in defense of Indio, and admitting how his past struggles with addiction may play a significant part.

“Unfortunately there’s a genetic component to addiction and Indio has likely inherited it. Also, there is a lot of family support and understanding, and we’re all determined to rally behind him and help him become the man he’s capable of being. We’re grateful to the Sheriff’s department for their intervention, and believe Indio can be another recovery success story instead of a cautionary tale,” the 49-year-old actor concluded while speaking on his sons behalf.

Indio Downey’s Arrest

Around 2 pm on Sunday afternoon the celebrity’s son was a passenger in a vehicle when authorities pulled up next to the car and noticed a passenger smoking something out of a pipe according to recent reports from officers in West Hollywood. An L.A. Country Sheriff’s Deputy pulled over the vehicle and allegedly found cocaine in Indio’s possession. The young man was arrested and later that night posted his $10,250 bail and was released from custody. A court date was set for Aug. 29 and even though there were two other individuals in the car, only Downey was arrested.

Stories indicate that Indio had previously struggled with a pill problem and went to treatment, this report itself has not been confirmed, but it would appear that like the star himself Robert Downey Jr.’s son Indio has found himself in a struggle with addiction. Robert Downey Jr. himself had even served some time in jail for his exploits with substance abuse, and he hopes to make his son a success story of recovery.

Privilege of Parents?

The question some would feel this presents is if this is a matter of genetic predisposition to the affliction of addiction or alcoholism, or is it the results of growing up young and privileged in Hollywood? Both of which are fairly reasonable arguments. Indio isn’t the first child of a celebrity to take after the notorious habits of a famous parent in a turn for the worst.

  • Kelly Osbourne (daughter of Ozzy Osbourne)Both suffered from drug addiction, but have since been dedicated to living a clean and sober life.
  • Theodora Richards (model and daughter of Keith Richards) – was arrested for graffiti and police found marijuana and other controlled substances in her possession.
  • Brawley Nolte (Nick Nolte’s son) – arrested in 2009 on suspicion of driving under the influence in Santa Monica.

These are just a few examples of young people in Hollywood out of the clusters of celebrity kids turned teens or adults who struggle with addiction or substance abuse like their parents. Is this a result of their young and fabulous upbringings? Do these young people develop their addictions as a result of being protected by powerful and popular parents and the spoiled star life? Is it fair to assume that they simply take advantage of the glamour and play the drug game, or is it more of human nature and biology to repeat after our parents history?

The Addiction Gene

It has been speculated that when scientists look for “addiction genes” what they are really looking for are biological dissimilarities that may affect how vulnerable some individuals are to develop an addiction. It may be more difficult for people with certain genes to quit once they start abusing drugs or alcohol, or they might be more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms.

Factors that actually make it harder to become addicted also may be genetic. However it is said someone’s genetic makeup will never doom them to inevitably become an addict. Due to the fact addiction has an inherited component to its development it is true it is passed down in families. That is to say it is possible to be passed down from parent to child by combinations of genes.

But going back to the privilege Hollywood idea, environmental factors are definitely an element that can add up to make an individual susceptible. Not every addict will carry the same gene, and not everyone who carries an addiction gene will exhibit the trait, however the combination of an addictive characteristic in the family heritage and the life-style of the rich and famous can make for a drug cocktail like the media has seen time and time again.

Genetics is not an excuse; it is a factor, but not the reason for addiction. As long as the family of Indio Downey is well aware of the relevance of their son’s life-style and his attitude towards his life of luxury (possibly the lack of consequence in his addiction), there will be some kind of possibility of recovery, especially if his father can steer him in the right direction. It is important to understand the facts about the personal struggles and changes necessary to combat addiction and alcoholism, and hopefully Robert Downey Jr. will be able to share his experience, strength and hope with his son, and spare him the tabloids of another ‘spoiled rich kid’ speculation.

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