Chris Farley’s Life Struggle of Addiction and Mental Illness

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Chris Farley was considered to be a comedic genius, playing various characters on Saturday Night Live in the 90s, as well as memorable roles in “Tommy Boy” and “Wayne’s World 2.” Then, tragically, Farley passed away at the age of 33 from a drug overdose. What we can learn from Chris Farley’s life is how even a comedian who made the whole world laugh could still be dealing with painstaking struggles and need help.

Bullied as a Child

While Chris Farley used being overweight to his advantage during his comedy routines, it was not easy for him growing up bullied for it. Many kids would call him nasty names like “Tubby” or “Fatso.” He would use his comedy as a defense mechanism to mock his own weight before others could. Farley was even bullied by Hustler Magazine’s founder Larry Flynt when Flynt told him that he was glad someone made it in his career that did not make it all the way through puberty. 

Fears and Insecurities

Farley was worried that if he lost weight, he would lose his comedic edge. He expressed constant fear of his movies not doing well and not being able to make a living as an actor. Farley would also get scared that losing weight would result in him not getting work as a comedian anymore. He believed that when the “roar of laughter died down,” the silence was a terrifying sound. Another fear Farley reported experiencing was not being able to find a nice woman to settle down with and have a family with. It is hard being in the limelight with all of these worries bogging you down, as you feel like you need to be a particular person when an audience is watching.

Troubles with Addiction

Farley had an addiction to a variety of drugs like cocaine, heroin, alcohol, marijuana, mushrooms, and food. Several attempts towards recovery were made, during which Farley would try to help himself by going to Overeaters Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous. He would do stints in rehabs, as well as attend weight loss centers. During his final two years, Farley made at least 17 trips to treatment programs, attempting countless different recovery techniques. Unfortunately, none of these treatment attempts worked, and he consistently relapsed. 

People Who Tried to Help Farley

Old friends and family were very much aware of Farley’s addiction problems. People from Saturday Night Live and other fellow actors, like Lorne Michaels, Dan Ackroyd, David Spade, Tom Arnold, and Farley’s manager, tried to get him to cut out drugs from his life. Sooner or later, he would go back to his old ways. The only thing that was helping Farley was when he was working because he would have no choice but to stay clean. Studios wanted to protect their investment and make sure he was behaving well on set. When Farley was making the movie “Almost Heroes,” he was required to attend A.A. meetings. He was even watched around the clock back when he was scheduled to play Shrek. 

The Death of Chris Farley

It seemed like things were looking up for Farley as he did a quick stint at the Hazelden Detox Center in Minneapolis, went to mass, and was preparing for Christmas. His friend, Jillian Seeley, said that Farley was enthusiastic about being in the movie “Almost Heroes.” Farley’s success did not last, as he began bar hopping on December 14th and consuming large amounts of alcohol and narcotics. Unfortunately, Chris Farley died in his Chicago apartment on December 18, 1997, and was found by his brother, John. His system had traces of cocaine, morphine, and marijuana. He also had an advanced heart disease that caused a buildup in his arteries. Farley’s final moments consisted of him taking drugs with a call girl who stole his watch, took pictures of him when he collapsed on the floor, and left after leaving a note. Farley’s last words were, “Don’t leave me.” 

Missed Opportunities of Chris Farley

Aside from “Tommy Boy” and “Beverly Hills Ninja,” Chris Farley did not have enough time to establish his fame and share his talent with the world. There were a lot of roles that Farley was supposed to play that could have advanced his career. He was originally cast in “The Cable Guy,” a role that was ultimately given to Jim Carrey. “Kingpin” was another hit movie that Farley would have starred in. However, the part was given to Randy Quaid upon news of his passing. Farley was supposed to have major roles in “Ghostbusters III,” “A Confederacy of Dunces,” and even the starring role of Shrek, in which he recorded nearly all of his lines. Sadly, his untimely demise prevented him from performing these roles, robbing his fans of the joy and laughter that only Farley could provide.

What to Learn From the Death of Chris Farley

Chris Farley was a very talented comedian. Farley made many attempts to get clean, but none of them worked. Maybe Farley’s story could have been different if he had gone to therapy for his mental health as well. Abusing drugs and overeating was a coping tool for Farley’s insecurities and fears. His story is a testament to how comedians may look like they are laughing at themselves on the outside but actually screaming for help on the inside. So many opportunities for his career and potential family were missed. Farley’s experience highlights the importance of treating substance abuse and mental health simultaneously for a successful recovery and happy life. 

At Silver Lining Recovery, our experienced professionals are committed to identifying the underlying causes and conditions that perpetuate addiction. We believe that addressing these issues and learning ways to cope are crucial to achieving long-term recovery. Offering several treatment modalities, including EMDR, CBT, DBT, and alternative healing techniques such as meditation, we work with our clients to create individualized treatment plans that meet their unique goals. Recovery is possible, and you don’t have to do it alone. Silver Lining Recovery is here to help. Call us today for a consultation at (833) 844-4769.