Drug addiction and celebrity culture have had a long and tumultuous relationship. Fame comes with a strong sense of freedom, and easy access to illicit substances seems to be part of the package. The story is all too familiar\u2014the star is catapulted into fame and the lifestyle that comes along with it, and then its fleeting nature leaves his life feeling empty when he isn\u2019t supported by his chemical crutch. Thankfully, the ending isn\u2019t always the same. The latest star to come clean about his addiction - Wes Bentley of "The Hunger Games" \u00a0proves that emphatically. It isn\u2019t just a hopeful promise of change that is destined to fall flat; Bentley has joined the illustrious ranks of celebrities who\u2019ve battled their demons and made a lasting and positive effort to build a better future. Bentley\u2019s Early Career and Descent Into Addiction Bentley got his big break in the critically-acclaimed movie \u201cAmerican Beauty,\u201d in which he played a philosophical and poetic oddball with a video camera permanently fused to his hand\u2014and at 21 the fame that came with it was too much to handle. He spoke to People magazine about it in 2011, telling the interviewer how the fame had become bigger than he was and transformed into fear. The fear took over his existence. He said, \u201cI felt I had a license to party ... My morals had changed. I could feel being suffocated by this party monster.\u201d The use of the phrase \u201cparty monster\u201d won\u2019t go unnoticed by film buffs, being the title of a biopic about a legendary New York promoter, known for his excessive drug use that eventually led to the murder of his roommate and drug dealer. It paints a very clear picture of where Bentley\u2019s life was going, from a rapid rise to fame to an equally rapid spiral into drugs. Bentley started with what are traditionally thought of as the \u201cgateway\u201d drugs\u2014alcohol and marijuana. Regardless of your stance of the \u201cgateway\u201d drug concept, it played itself out in a tabloid-friendly fashion with Bentley, who soon graduated to ecstasy and cocaine before moving to the drug that would come to take over his life: heroin. A Career Jeopardized The success of \u201cAmerican Beauty\u201d should have been a positive omen for Bentley\u2019s career\u2014and indeed his memorable role did generate interest in the young actor. Unfortunately it was already too late; by that point Bentley had begun refusing offers of scripts and ignoring his career in favor of getting high. He turned down numerous opportunities, including the chance to work with legendary directors such as Tim Burton, Ang Lee and Tony Scott. Moviefone notes the lull in his career around 2000, with only a handful of roles being listed in the 10 years that followed. He told People that \u201cafter a while, I was just doing films to fund my partying and drugs.\u201d His life revolved around them. This took its toll on his relationship, too. His marriage to Jennifer Quanz broke down; the couple separated for three years before getting divorced in 2009. The previous year was a particularly important one\u2014he was arrested for possession of heroin and his best friend, Heath Ledger, died from a prescription drug overdose. This was his ultimate low point, with legal trouble, professional difficulties, a broken relationship and drugs taking the life of a close friend. Getting Better Bentley claims his motivation to make a change in his life came from meeting Jacqui Swedberg, his second wife and the mother of his second child. This may be partially true, but it seems he\u2019s being a little modest here\u2014the motivation to make a change ultimately always comes from within. He checked himself into a 12-step rehab facility. He said he\u2019s never looked back. According to his interview with People, he knows where the road to addiction leads and he never wants to go back. And his actions are in perfect congruence with his words\u2014he\u2019s now four years clean and sober and his career is on the rise. He built himself back up by acting in other movies such as, \u201cThere Be Dragons,\u201d but \u201cThe Hunger Games\u201d has etched his name in the minds of a new generation of movie-lovers. A Happy Ending The best thing about Bentley\u2019s story is that it\u2019s an important reminder that with some resolve, it\u2019s more than possible to overcome addiction, no matter how much it eats into your existence. \u00a0Bentley went from a depressing side note on a \u201cWhere Are They Now?\u201d feature into a star in one of the biggest blockbuster movies in recent memory. He was able to do that because he took stock of his life and realized he wasn\u2019t heading in the right direction. We can only hope that the publicity his story gains will inspire ordinary people who struggle with addiction to make similar changes in their own lives.