Author Stephen King’s chilling tales are well-know not only in the United States but around the world as well. Due to the fact that so many of his books have been turned into movies, even people who do not read frequently are even familiar with his work, and nearly everyone can name one or two favorite stories.
However, what many people do not realize is that Stephen King has been in recovery from addiction for decades now. In his early career – even during some of his most successful periods – King was an alcoholic. Not only that, but he regularly abused a wide variety of drugs including cocaine, Xanax, Valium, and more.
In the early 1980s, King managed to break free from these addictions and has been clean and sober and on the path to recovery ever since. His career has only grown in success since he broke this self-destructive cycle and he is lucky to be alive today to tell his own true tale.
Read on to learn more about Stephen King. He managed to recognize that he had an issue, to seek treatment, and to go on with his life and his work with a passion that is evident to all who read his books. He is an inspiration to anyone working on his or her own recovery.
Stephen King’s childhood was not easy. His father left his mother and brother when he was very young and his mother struggled to support the family. They moved often and eventually settled in Maine, where King lives today.
Early on, he was not sure what he wanted to do for a living. However, after finding a short story book by early twentieth-century horror writer H.P. Lovecraft that had belonged to his father in his grandparents’ attic, he read it and was enthralled. He immediately fell in love with the genre and was drawn to the idea of becoming a horror writer right away. Soon, he was reading as much horror as he could get his hands on, including comic book series such as Tales from the Crypt.
His teachers recognized his talent for writing and as a teen he won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award. His first published work was fiction – “I Was a Teenage Grave Robber” – and appeared in a fanzine, Comics Review, in 1965 when he was just eighteen years old.
King attended the University of Maine and graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He worked several jobs to pay for his schooling and to make ends meet. When he was just twenty, he sold his first professional horror story. It was entitled “The Glass Floor” and it was published in Startling Mystery Stories in 1967.
Although King planned to teach English when he graduated, he was unable to find a position right away. In the meantime, he began writing more and started selling more and more of his stories to various publications.
In 1971, King was hired to teach at a public high school in Hampden, Maine, but he continued to write in his free time.
Carrie was the fourth novel King had written, but it was the first to be published. It was accepted by Doubleday publishers in 1973 and was almost immediately successful. This was a surprise to King, because he though the book was rather terrible.
More novels followed Carrie in quick succession. He published Salem’s Lot in 1975, The Shining in 1977, and Night Shift and The Stand in 1978. Firestarter followed in 1980 and IT was released in 1981. One of his most famous tales, Cujo, was released that year as well.
His fame grew rapidly, and so did the pressure. King believed he was somewhat of a fraud and could not believe his books were so popular. To test his theory, he published several books in the 1970s under the pseudonym Richard Bachman to find out of he could replicate his success. He did.
In addition to his own self-doubt, something else happened during this period that was likely quite influential to King’s life. His mother, who sacrificed so much to raise him and his brother, passed away from uterine cancer in 1974, just after Carrie was released.
Although King was experiencing high levels of success during the 1970s and early 1980s, he was also under a great deal of pressure. During this time he began drinking heavily and abusing drugs. He was already a regular drinker when his mother passed away, and has written that he was drunk when he delivered her eulogy.
King has been very candid about his drug and alcohol use and examines it deeply in his 2000 memoir, On Writing. In that book, he explains to his readers that his drug and alcohol abuse got so bad that he doesn’t really even remember writing Cujo.
In time, his family and friends realized that he had a problem and staged an intervention on his behalf. They searched his house for drugs and alcohol and showed him everything that they found. Upon seeing it all in front of him, shown to him by people who cared about him intensely, he agreed to seek help.
It took King some time to become fully clean and sober. Although the intervention occurred soon after Cujo was published, it wasn’t until the late 1980s that he was able to give up all drugs and alcohol, although he has been sober since.
During his quest to break free of addiction, he continued to write books, and he continued to be successful. The first book he write as a completely sober man was Needful Things which was released in 1991.
Today, King has been sober for almost twenty years. He continues to write and publish as many as three to seven books per year and writes at least 2,000 words a day. His popularity continues to grow as younger readers begin to discover his work. The number of books he has written since getting clean and sober is vast, and he nearly always has a movie in the works, too. Most recently, Doctor Sleep, a sequel to The Shining, has received rave reviews from critics and moviegoers alike.
Stephen King is an amazing author and he will surely continue to write until he no longer can. His addiction and recovery journey is very relatable and is inspiring to anyone who is working on their own recovery. For all his fans and the world of horror as well as for himself, it is wonderful that King was able to beat his addiction and to go on to tell his story to others around the world.
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