johnny depp

Johnny Depp’s History of Addiction Comes to Light in Trial

When most people think of Johnny Depp, they think of an unkempt, treasure-hungry pirate, or a reformed shut-in with scissors for hands. An American actor, musician, and producer, Depp has enjoyed A-list celebrity status spanning almost four decades due to his many memorable, albeit unconventional, roles and performances. Lately, however, Depp has been gaining attention for more uninspiring reasons. 

An April 2018 op-ed was published in the Washington Post which depicted Depp as an addict and “wife-beater”, claims brought against him by his most-recent ex-wife Amber Heard. While the actual incidents that occurred during their marriage are currently being disputed in court, it is important to analyze Depp’s addiction to understand what could have led him here. Therefore, this article attempts to reason how Johnny Depp went from being a Hollywood heartthrob to the main player in a courtroom spectacle.    

Early Life 

Johnny Depp was born in Owensboro, Kentucky on June 9, 1963. His parents had a turbulent marriage that eventually ended when Depp was fifteen years old. It has recently become known that during his childhood, Depp’s mother was frequently physically abusive towards him and his three siblings, to the point that the children, including Depp, would feel the need to shield themselves from their mother since they never knew when and how she would lash out. 

After his parent’s divorce, Depp’s mother attempted suicide but was unsuccessful. For the remainder of his years in his childhood home, Depp immersed himself in music to escape the everyday reality of his home life. At the age of 16, Depp dropped out of high school to pursue a career in music. Shortly after, at the age of 20, Depp then moved to Los Angeles with members of his modestly successful band The Kids

After working odd jobs and continuing to play with his band in small venues, Depp befriended young actor Nicholas Cage who introduced Depp to casting agents and helped him secure auditions. Depp has said he never intended to be an actor, but it paid the bills and allowed him the financial freedom to focus on his musical career. 


Before long, Depp was booking various acting roles and quickly became a  teen heartthrob thanks to his roles in Nightmare on Elm Street and 21 Jump Street. Once he began to feel established as an actor in Hollywood, Depp began seeking roles that he found more interesting. Depp quickly became close friends with director Tim Burton who is known for his many eccentricities and offbeat, yet successful films. Burton cast Depp in cult classics such as Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Alice in Wonderland, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 

One of the most notable franchises Depp has been involved in during his career is The Pirates of the Caribbean in which Depp plays the main character, Captain Jack Sparrow. His portrayal of the seemingly always-drunk pirate earned him Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. After participating in five Pirates films, it was ultimately decided that Depp would no longer be a part of the franchise due to allegations of domestic violence against ex-wife Amber Heard. 


Depp has been very transparent with his substance abuse struggles over the years, previously stating that he began sneaking his mother’s pills at the age of eleven, and by the age of fourteen was using any drug he could get his hands on. In adulthood, alcohol would appear to be his drug of choice. While discussing his drinking habits during an interview, Depp stated  “I investigated wine and spirits thoroughly, and they certainly investigated me as well, and we found out that we got along beautifully, but maybe too well”.

 In response to his previous business managers’ claims that he spent $30,000 per month on wine, Depp stated that the amount was insulting—he spent far more than that amount. His reliance on alcohol would soon prove to be more detrimental to his life than he previously believed. During his marriage to Amber Heard, he participated in heavy drinking and drug use which was a huge factor in their very toxic and public relationship and subsequent divorce. 

Marriage to Amber Heard and Trial

Depp and Heard met on the set of The Rum Diary in 2011 and began a whirlwind romance. They eventually married in February 2015, with Heard filing for divorce in May of the following year. As stated in an article published by Washington Post, Heard alleges that Depp was physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive during their relationship with substance abuse being largely to blame. Depp was ordered to pay Heard a settlement in the amount of $7 million. Depp has adamantly denied ever physically harming Heard and has since launched a lawsuit that alleges that the defamation and slander at the hands of Heard have cost Depp multiple movie contracts and millions of dollars. 

The lawsuit is currently underway and the litigation has received enormous media attention. Many who have been following the case believe that Heard’s accusations of domestic violence are untrue, whereas others have pledged their alliance to Ms. Heard. Tabloids covering the case have published articles covering courtroom bombshells ranging from defecating in their shared bed to a sliced-off finger to possible borderline personality disorder. 

As the trial progresses, the nation and viewers around the world will likely hear much more supporting evidence in relation to Depp’s addiction. Unlike accusations of domestic assault and abuse, Depp’s substance abuse issues remain unquestioned. He has recently stated that he no longer drinks heavily or partakes in recreational drug use. It is clear that his substance use over the years has caught up to him. 

Oasis Recovery Center Can Help

If you feel that you or a loved one may be struggling with addiction or substance abuse, you are not alone. These issues can affect anyone. If you or a loved one are currently struggling, help is available! We encourage you to reach out to the professionals at Oasis Recovery to learn more about our personalized treatment programs and mental health services.

 Oasis Recovery was founded from firsthand experience of addiction and recovery, with a mission of providing a space where people can heal from addiction in a compassionate, creative, open-minded, and heart-centered environment. We believe recovery is always possible. Our experts work with you to design a treatment plan that fits your needs. Common treatment programs include:

  • Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)
  • Full-time Addiction Treatment on campus
  • Aftercare Services

Contact us today for more information about how our programs and services can help you get your life back on track. You no longer have to struggle with addiction on your own. We are here to help. 

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