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Sober Musicians

Notable musicians like Alice Cooper, Steven Tyler, Elton John, Eminem, and Ozzy Osbourne have faced and overcome addiction. Their journeys reflect the prevalent substance abuse in the music industry and their resilience in choosing sobriety.

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Addiction has taken a toll on many lives and careers, leading to the death of many big-name musicians, such as Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix. 

The music scene of traveling and performing, and just being a celebrity in general, has long been synonymous with a party lifestyle. Alcohol and drugs often flow freely through this subculture. Rampant and regular drug and alcohol misuse can lead to addiction, which is compulsive substance abuse with an inability to stop despite negative consequences.

Drug and alcohol addiction wreaks havoc not only on the life of the person involved, but also on their families and anyone close to them. It can make it difficult to keep up with obligations, such as creating music or performing at concerts, which can then impact a musician’s career. 

Financial troubles, legal conflicts, mental and physical health problems, and relationship woes are common side effects of addiction. 

We’ve listed 10 musicians who decided enough was enough and took it upon themselves to get sober. These musicians are in recovery:

1. Alice Cooper

Rock legend Alice Cooper, born Vincent Damon Furnier, gained musical fame and popularity in the 1970s and has had a career spanning five decades. Known for his dramatic and horror-themed theatrics and pyrotechnics, dramatic makeup, and raspy voice, Alice Cooper is still touring today. His hit songs include “Welcome to My Nightmare” and “Poison.”

Alice Cooper struggled with alcohol abuse and got to the point where he was only feeling “good” for a few hours a day while drinking at least a case of beer a day. 

Cooper was a type of functional alcoholic. He was still able to perform and not appear outwardly drunk, so he was able to continue drinking at significant rates until his liver and pancreas started failing, and his addiction became life threatening in the late 1970s. 

He entered rehab, suffered one major relapse and almost died, and then sobered up for good. Alice Cooper says faith helps, and he has been in recovery and sober for 40 years.

2. Steven Tyler

Born Steven Victor Tallarico and best known as the front man for the band Aerosmith, Steven Tyler and Aerosmith saw success in the 1970s with hits such as “Dream On” and “Walk This Way.” 

By the late 1970s, the band started having problems with Tyler’s rampant drug use. He began with marijuana in the mid-1960s and then moved on to any drugs he could use to get high, from prescription medications to heroin and cocaine.

In 1988, his bandmates staged an intervention. After a few stints in rehab in the 1980s, Tyler got sober in 2009. Aerosmith was less than a month away from the re-launching of their Las Vegas residency in May 2022 when Tyler suffered a relapse and checked himself back into rehab. He has since completed rehab and is sober once again.

3. Elton John

Nicknamed “Rocket Man” after the hit with the same name in 1972, Sir Elton Hercules John — born Reginald Kenneth Dwight — is a world-renowned pianist, composer, and singer. Elton John was a child prodigy on the piano and launched into international stardom as a singer in 1970 with his self-titled album. Elton John came out as gay in the 1990s and remained at the top of the charts as a mainstream artist. 

Elton John struggled with alcohol and drug abuse. In 1990, he asked for help and got sober. He took an entire year off work to focus on recovery, and he regularly attends AA and NA meetings to support his sobriety. 

Elton John has been sober for 32 years. He is on a farewell tour today after celebrating decades of success and hit songs.

4. Eminem

The American rapper Eminem was born Marshall Bruce Mathers III. One of his big claims to fame is the popularization of hip hop in middle America. He is one of the best-selling artists of the 21st century and also one of the most controversial. 

With a rocky childhood, Marshall dropped out of school in the 9th grade and hit it big with the release of the Slim Shady LP in 1999. The Marshall Mathers LP in 2000 was the fastest-selling album in rap history.

Eminem struggled with prescription drug abuse, at one point taking as many as 80 Valium a night up until a near-fatal overdose in 2007. Eminem admits to taking any pills he was offered, including Vicodin, Valium, Ambien, and methadone — the drug that ultimately led to his overdose. 

He tried rehab once. Then, after his near-death experience, he detoxed in a hospital before returning home to recover. Eminem has been sober since 2008.

5. Ozzy Osbourne

John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne is a British musician who gained fame with the band Black Sabbath during the 1970s before enjoying an extremely successful solo career as both a musician and television personality. 

One of Ozzy’s most notorious moments in his career was biting off the head of a live bat onstage during a show on tour. Winning a Grammy Award in 1993 for his metal performance on the song “I Don’t Want to Change the World,” Ozzy reunited with the members of Black Sabbath in the late 1990s and continues releasing music both solo and with the band.

Ozzy Osbourne struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction dating back to the 1970s, finally getting sober in 2014. Ozzy says he started abusing inhalants at a young age, which then turned to alcohol and more drugs as an attempt to self-medicate. 

Ozzy’s first trip to rehab was in 1984. This was followed by several more over the years. The Osbourne family blames the filming of the reality show The Osbournes for fueling the family’s addiction issues, as his children Jack and Kelly have both struggled with addiction and sobriety as well. Ozzy has now been sober for eight years.

6. Keith Urban

An Australian American country singer and guitar player Keith Urban — born Keith Lionel Urbahn AO in New Zealand — has had tremendous success beginning in the early 1990s. He moved to Nashville and formed a band, the Ranch, but it did not have much success. Due to a medical condition that prevented Keith from singing, the band disbanded in the late 1990s. 

While his voice recovered, Urban focused more on his guitar playing for other big musicians on their albums. After his voice healed, Urban released his first American solo album in 1999. He has since won many awards for his music and was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2012.

Keith Urban struggles with alcoholism and went to rehab twice, once in 1998 and again in 2006. His wife, also a celebrity, Nicole Kidman staged an intervention in 2006 that helped him to get sober. Keith is still touring and sober today after 16 years in recovery.

7. Demi Lovato

Demetria Devonne “Demi” Lovato was born to musician parents, and her mother is a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Getting a start as a child actor on Barney & Friends, Demi won several talent contests as a child and recorded songs for the Camp Rock soundtrack after landing the starring role in 2007. Demi released a solo album in 2008, Don’t Forget, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart.

While Demi Lovato has experienced massive success both on screen and through music, they have also struggled with substance abuse and addiction. At 18 years old in 2009, while on tour with the Jonas Brothers, Demi got into a fight with a backup dancer and sought treatment for addiction, bipolar disorder, and an eating disorder. They entered a sober house in 2013. 

After being sober for six years, Demi relapsed. Only one month after releasing the ballad “Sober,” Demi was hospitalized for almost two weeks after a near-fatal drug overdose. They spent an additional three months in rehab in 2018. 

Demi abused alcohol and drugs, including cocaine and marijuana, for much of their life. After the near fatal overdose in 2018, Demi opted for a “California sober” approach that included drinking and using marijuana in moderation. As of December 2021, Demi announced that they were going to stay “sober, sober” and remain abstinent from all drugs and alcohol.

8. Nikki Sixx

Most well-known as the bassist and co-founder of the heavy metal band Motley Crue, Nikki Sixx was born Frank Carlton Serafino Feranna Jr. Motley Crue released their debut album in 1981, and in 1983, their second album Shout at the Devil was a national hit. Their most successful album Dr. Feelgood stayed on the charts for 114 weeks in 1989. 

Motley Crue had their final reunion tour in 2014, which ended in 2015. Sixx also has written and collaborated on several individual projects, including books and radio shows.

In December 1987, Nikki Sixx suffered a heroin overdose where he was pronounced legally dead for two minutes. After being revived and taken to the hospital, he returned home to shoot up again. After this near-death experience, Sixx and his bandmates entered rehab. 

Sixx had a few relapses over the years. He now celebrates 20 years sober and lives in recovery in Wyoming with his family.

9. Lana Del Ray

The singer-songwriter Lana Del Rey was born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant and took the world by storm with her song “Video Games” in 2011. She has sold millions of albums and had multiple No. 1 hits on the Billboard 200. Lana Del Rey has a vast fan base, many radio hits, and songs and videos that have seen over a billion views on YouTube.

Lana Del Rey’s family lived in the small town of Lake Placid, New York where she started drinking at a young age. Her family sent her to boarding school at the age of 14 to curb her drinking and alcohol addiction. She has been sober ever since.

10. Anthony Kiedis

Lead vocalist and one of the founding members of the hugely popular alternative rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Anthony Kiedis is the godson of Sonny Bono of Sonny & Cher. The breakout album Blood Sugar Sex Magic in 1991 sold over 4 million copies. Subsequent albums over the next two decades had great success as well.

Anthony began experimenting with drugs in his early teens, as his father was a drug dealer. He began with marijuana and then moved on to heroin, cocaine, and Quaaludes. Kiedis ran into trouble with the band, even getting kicked out for a time due to his drug use and addiction, and entered rehab for the first time at age 27

He relapsed a few times after that initial period of sobriety, but he now celebrates 21 years sober.

Rehab for Celebrities

Celebrities can enter any sort of treatment program that works best for them, but there is often the added complication of being recognized and needing more privacy. Celebrities also have specific needs and struggles, and it can be helpful to be in a treatment program with other individuals who can relate. 

Private residential addiction treatment centers can offer a high level of privacy, luxury accommodations, and additional amenities to make the stay as comfortable as possible. It can be helpful for celebrities to have a safe and secluded environment where they can remain anonymous while healing and working in recovery.

Rehab can be offered in a variety of settings. It will typically include group and individual counseling and therapies, medication management, life skills training, and support groups. It can also be beneficial to learn specific coping skills and tools for dealing with the pressures of being a celebrity, managing the party lifestyle while minimizing the risk of relapse, and learning how to deal with the public and all the attention in a healthy way. 

A treatment center that understands these specific factors can be optimal for celebrities in rehab.

Updated November 21, 2023
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  2. Alice Cooper Prays Everyday and Credits God for Staying Sober. (May 2021). Page Six.
  3. Steven Tyler. (April 2017). Biography.
  4. Steven Tyler Enters Treatment: What the Aerosmith Frontman Has Said About Addiction and Sobriety. (May 2022). People.
  5. Elton John. Britannica.
  6. Elton John Recalls Performing for the First Time Since Getting Sober: ‘I Was Terrified.’ (November 2019). Variety.
  7. Eminem. (April 2017). Biography.
  8. Eminem Opens Up About Getting Sober Over a Decade After His Near-Fatal Drug Overdose. (September 2022). Vanity Fair.
  9. Ozzy Osborne. (September 2022). Britannica.
  10. The Osbournes Open Up About Addiction and How the Family Finally Found Recovery. (February 2021). Variety.
  11. Keith Urban. (October 2022). Britannica.
  12. Keith Urban Opens Up About His Sobriety, Says He’s Thankful Alcoholism Didn’t Ruin His Music Career. (May 2022). Music Mayhem.
  13. Demi Lovato. IMDb.
  14. Demi Lovato’s Struggle with Addiction in Their Own Words. (August 2022). US Weekly.
  15. Demi Lovato Says They Are ‘No Longer’ California Sober: ‘Sober, Sober Is The Only Way to Be.’ (December 2021). People.
  16. Nikki Sixx. (January 2018). Biography.
  17. Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx Opens Up Sobriety, Why He Left California for Wyoming: ‘It’s Home.’ (January 2022). Fox News.
  18. Lana Del Ray. (July 2018). Biography.
  19. The Sober Life: Chrissy Teigen, Brad Pitt, and Other Celebrities Who Have Given Up Drinking. (August 2017). W Magazine.
  20. Anthony Kiedis. (April 2014). Biography.
  21. Anthony Kiedis Describes ‘Dark Energy’ in RHCP Before Sobriety. (October 2022). Newsweek.
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