A Famlily's Journey to Hell and back
Cameron Douglas was abusing drugs by his teens and a convicted felon by age 21. Now, sober and a proud dad, the son of Michael Douglas shares his story
As a little boy, says Michael Douglas, his towheaded firstborn was quiet and good-natured. "Cameron was a wonderful kid," says the 75-year-old Hollywood icon, sitting beside his son, now 40, on a recent morning in New York City.
He smiles warmly toward Cameron and adds with just a hint of wistfulness, "He was a sweetie." But the sweetness of those early years would sour in cinematic fashion.
What began as teenage bouts of drinking, pot-smoking and high jinks escalated into a tsunami of drug addiction and darkness for Cameron —and caused unending worry for his father and mother, Diandra, 63, a former model and producer who split from Michael in 1995.
By the time Cameron hit his early 20s, the scion of Hollywood royalty—his grandfather is legendary actor Kirk Douglas—was a full-blown cocaine and heroin addict.
Dealing meth-amphetamines for a time and carrying a Glock for protection, Cameron clung to the fast lane and mostly disregarded efforts by his parents to get him help over the years.
"It's the sneaky power, the stranglehold that addiction has when you're in the throes of it," says Cameron, who shot up cocaine nearly daily and withstood drug-induced seizures.
"When you get that far down the rabbit hole, there are a couple of options: There's prison and then there's death."
Cameron narrowly escaped the latter, but in 2009 a DEA sting operation landed him behind bars.
He faced a five-year term for conspiracy to distribute meth and cocaine.
After the sentence was extended by another five years for possession while he was incarcerated, "something inside me broke," he says.
That low point also marked the start of a gradual turnaround. He got sober in prison and focused on his future for the first time in decades.