As many of us know, Hollywood can be a tough place to grow up. We’ve seen child stars like Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes go through the ringer, and now that Adam Rich has died, we’re reminded once again of child star troubles. Adam Rich, who died on Jan. 7, 2023, is known for his role as Nicholas Bradford on Eight Is Enough, the 1977 sitcom about a single dad raising eight children.
What was Adam’s cause of death? Through looking at his past and his relationship with his on-screen father, portrayed by the legendary Dick Van Patten, we take a look at what could have happened. Wrought with a complicated childhood, Adam stayed close with Dick throughout the rest of their lives. Was Adam ever married or was he a perpetual bachelor? And how did Adam die? Keep reading for all the details.
What was Adam Rich's cause of death?
On June 23, 2023, it was confirmed that Adam Rich died as a result of a fentanyl overdose. TMZ obtained the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner's report, which stated that the overdose was accidental. According to the report, he "also had non-toxic levels of alcohol and lorazepam, the generic for Ativan," in his system.
Eight Is Enough fans who’ve been following Adam’s path know that he struggled with mental illness and substance abuse. After Eight Is Enough was pulled from the air in 1981, Adam wanted to go on to have a normal childhood. He attended Chatsworth High School near Los Angeles, and eventually fell into the wrong crowd.
The Los Angeles Daily News (via the Orlando Sentinel) gave us some insight into Adam’s journey post-stardom after he was arrested on a burglary charge in 1991. At the time, Dick bailed him out of jail for $5,000 because of Adam’s lack of familial support, which he never fully discussed openly.
He did, however, discuss his mental health. "I don't know why this happened, but I know I am sick. I have a disease," he said after the arrests. "I am very remorseful, very embarrassed about this whole thing. … Some people are saying it was a cry for help, and I guess that's right. I really can't explain it, but I'm taking the blame for it."
Throughout all of this and afterward, Adam had done everything he could to take care of his substance abuse and depression. He went to the Betty Ford Center to kick his habit for a 45-day program and spent another 90 days at an undisclosed location. He was more recently arrested in 2002, but he shared in October 2022 on Twitter that he was seven years sober.
Throughout the years, Adam Rich never married.
It’s clear that managing sobriety and mental health isn't a linear journey, and there are many ups and downs. Even still, Adam’s friends and colleagues spoke very highly of him. "He was just a very kind, generous, loving soul," publicist Danny Deraney told The Associated Press (via NPR). "Being a famous actor is not necessarily what he wanted to be. ... He had no ego, not an ounce of it."
On Twitter, Adam was outspoken about normalizing the discussion around depression and addiction. "Human beings weren't built to endure mental illness," Adam tweeted in September (and retweeted in December). "The mere fact that some people consider those to be weak, or have a lack of will is totally laughable ... because it's the total opposite! It takes a very, very strong person ... a warrior if you will ... to battle such illnesses."
Adam was never married. After starring in Eight Is Enough, Adam also appeared in The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Gun Shy, and Code Red. He also voiced Presto the Magician in a 1983 Dungeons & Dragons series, although his most recent credit is from 2003 as Crocodile Dundee in Reel Comedy.
Our thoughts are with Adam’s family and friends.
If you or someone you know needs help, use SAMHSA Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator to find support for mental health and substance use disorders in your area or call 1-800-662-4357 for 24-hour assistance.