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Eight Is Enough star Adam Rich died at age 54 in Jan. 2023 from an accidental fentanyl overdose. Rich was found dead in his Brentwood home during a welfare check.

His publicist, Danny Deraney emphasized that Rich did not do recreational drugs. “If there is any silver lining, it’s that our suspicions were correct that it was an accidental overdose from fentanyl and not recreational drugs,” Deraney told E! News after the autopsy results were revealed. “We hope this closes the chapter on any suspicions people had and now the family can have some privacy as we move forward.”

The actor was known for playing the youngest brother Nicholas Bradford in the endearing ABC series about widower Tom Bradford (Dick Van Patten), a columnist with eight children.

Rich starred in the series, beginning at age 8, and essentially “grew up” on the show. But when the series ended in 1981, Rich followed the same tragic path as many child stars.

Adam Rich suffered from depression

Rich went on to make guest appearances on series like The Love Boat and Baywatch, but his acting career stalled. Eventually, he returned his character to star in two Eight is Enough reunion shows but he never regained the sizable fame he earned during the early seasons of Eight is Enough.

Adam Rich | ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images
Adam Rich | ABC Photo Archives/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Deraney said Rich suffered from depression, but would not get treatment. “He was just a very kind, generous, loving soul,” Deraney said in a statement via CBS News. “Being a famous actor is not necessarily what he wanted to be. … He had no ego, not an ounce of it.”

He became a beacon for those who struggled with mental illness

Rich battled his own demons, facing depression while trying to self-medicate. Before he turned 13 years old, Rich admitted to drinking and drug use (via The New York Times). In 1991, he was arrested for breaking into a pharmacy in an attempt to steal morphine. Rich claimed he sought painkillers at an emergency room hours earlier but was denied.

Rich was in and out of rehab five times before he turned 22. Ultimately, Rich sought treatment for depression and created a following on social media in 2020 for being so open about his struggle. In 2022, he shared on X (formerly Twitter) that humans weren’t meant to battle mental illness.


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“Human beings weren’t built to endure mental illness. 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,” he posted.

His last tweet addressed the Dec. 2022 suicide of Stephen tWitch Boss. “The only thing those suffering from a mental illness know how to do is pretend to be ok. Enough! The stigma is killing people. Be yourself. Ok, or not ok, is the only way to create change, & stomp the stigma! Heal your truth!” Weeks later the tweet triggered a flood of fans posting tributes to Rich after he died.

How to get help: In the U.S., call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988 or 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to speak with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.