Widely praised for his incisive screenplay for Traffic, director Steven Soderbergh's epic study in across-the-border drug smuggling, writer, director and recovering drug addict Stephen Gaghan drew from many personal experiences for his rich and complex story line. Often citing his addiction to and use of crack on various powerful studio lots, Gaghan may be comfortable discussing his past troubles now, though the thought of unemployment due to the discovery of his addiction weighed as a heavy shadow over his impending success. After earning a Best Adapted Writing Oscar for his smart and complex screenplay, it seems unlikely that Gaghan will have trouble finding work anytime soon.
Beginning his career as a writer by penning scripts for such legally oriented television series as NYPD Blue (for which he won an Emmy) and The Practice, Gaghan also scripted episodes of former Hardy Boy Shaun Cassidy's short-lived supernatural series American Gothic and served as co-producer for another fleeting otherworldly themed series, Sleepwalkers. Gaghan later moved into feature-film territory with his script for director William Friedkin's critically panned military thriller Rules of Engagement before penning Traffic (2000) and Abandon (2001), the last of which also served as Gaghan's directorial debut. Gaghan's admission of his chemically enhanced past was an admitted attempt to shatter the stigma surrounding drug abuse and encourage others with similar addictions to "raise their hand and ask for help."