There are some artists who have been, in many ways, defined by their public struggles through recovery and addiction--Eminem, and his struggle to get clean and find peace in his personal relationships; the many young artists who died too soon such as Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain; the untimely passing of DMX after years of struggle; and the handful of the hard partiers of yesteryear who have crossed over into old age, yoga and such as Steven Tyler and Alice Cooper. And some artists have kept their addictions and recovery quieter. But quiet doesn't mean they aren't open about their addictions and the struggle to get sober. Here are 7 musicians in recovery who you might not expect:
Lana Del Rey
Known for her sultry vocals and one-eyebrow raising headlines, Lana has been open about her troubled adolescence, telling GQ about her alcohol addiction as a young teen: “I was a big drinker at the time. I would drink every day. I would drink alone. I thought the whole concept was so f—ing cool. A great deal of what I wrote on ‘Born to Die’ is about these wilderness years. My parents were worried, I was worried. I knew it was a problem when I liked it more than I liked doing anything else. At first it’s fine…you think you have a dark side—it’s exciting—and then you realize the dark side wins every time you decide to indulge in it. It was the worst thing that ever happened to me.”
Even then, Lana felt her artistic drive. “In my heart of hearts, I really wanted to be creative. I was really looking for direction and validation, for someone to say it doesn’t have to be business; you could do something where your entire life will end up being an extension of your profession.”
She was sent to boarding school at fifteen in hopes of recovering, and was able to make her way through.
After co-writing the hit song “Boyfriend” (yes, the Justin Bieber tune), Matthew Moser, aka Blackbear, started drinking heavily in the wake of the success. So heavily that he became illl with pancreatitis and had to have a risky surgery. It was during his stay in the hospital and recovery afterwards that he wrote his hit hot girl bummer.
He now also advocates for Mission Cure a non-profit dedicated to finding the cure for chronic pancreatitis and welcomed his first child in 2020.
In 2016 Kid Cudi entered rehab for addiction, depression and suicidal urges. After emerging, he nows says he’s been clean from cocaine for over two years.
Cudi – whose real name is Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi – said that fame and expectations from fans and music industry figures resulted in a decline in his mental health.
While Cudi does not identify as an addict, he has nonetheless been open about stopping the use of drugs, recovering and working through the underlying mental health issues that he feels caused him to rely on substance abuse.
The youths may know him only as the tattooed drummer engaged to Kourtney (free from Scott at least) and working with artists such as MGK and (blank). But back in the day, Barker, as the drummer in Blink 182 struggled with addiction and personal issues until a deadly plane crash in 2008.
Speaking to Forbes in 2017, Barker says that "sobriety saved my life. My only my regret is it didn't happen sooner. It was sad that it took a plane crash and almost dying to finally sober up. My second chance at life and my kids was enough to never touch drugs again. Being present and sober is something I wouldn't trade for anything. Music is my drug."
The esteemed DJ has been making music since 1994, but in 2001 he decided to become sober, telling Forbes, "Every time you go into a city people come and see you and they’re there to have the biggest night of the weekend, especially in Vegas. So when I do a show and have my friends come through they’re there to party hard. And I think the thing for me, back in the day, was say I was taking a sabbatical from drinking, I would end up having a shot, then I would have two, and I would have three. Then it’s like, “Who gives a f**k?” When DJ AM [Adam Goldstein] passed away that’s when I made the distinction, ‘It’s not about taking a break, I’m just not gonna drink. . . I think a lot of the time it’s an issue of shame. But that conversation needs to be had even more, so the dialog is the key to finally pulling the skeletons out of the closet, dealing with the issues."
Reznor got his start in the 90’s but got sober in 2001, explaining, “My way of dealing with life was to numb myself with drugs and alcohol, because it made me feel better and more equipped to deal with everything.”
Reznor’s struggles with addiction continued through the end of The Fragile tour, where he experienced an overdose in London on China white heroin that he mistook for cocaine. After that a close friend and studio technician died and finally Reznor entered a rehab facility. “Incredibly unpleasant experience. Hardest thing I’ve ever done. But many benefits come from it, aside from not being dead. I sorted through a lot of shit that I was carrying around. I’m very grateful that I had to go through that,” he told Entertainment Weekly.
Mary J. Blige
The recent superbowl performer struggled with addiction to drugs throughout the beginning of her career, stemming from a molestation that had occured when she was young. Her 1994 album “My Life” was a self-described “dark, suicide testimony” but over 25 years later, she is clean and healthy and talks openly with Self about going to therapy, struggling with her privacy while seeking help during recovery and the ways she has grown since getting clean, telling the magazine, “We numb ourselves with drugs and alcohol and people and shopping and shit, to cover up what’s really going on inside,” she says. “You’re taking drugs so you can go out and feel courageous, or go out and feel beautiful or whatever. You’re doing it to cover up something.”
One of the things most helpful for others going through recovery is knowing they are not alone in the process--that even the stars and musicians we admire have had the same struggles.
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