Author: Justin Mckibben
Since late last week, the tragic story of the sudden death of rock legend Chris Cornell has taken some heartbreaking and bewildering turns. While the initial reports held no details of the singer’s unexpected death, more recent reports have indicated the cause of death was suicide. However, as the story continues Chris Cornell’s family is skeptical and openly critical of this conclusion. Now some are speaking out saying it was drugs, and not depression, responsible for the sudden passing.
Born Christopher John Boyle, the 52 year old Seattle, Washington native was one of the most recognizable voices of American rock music. His famous and powerful vocal belting technique along with an impressive voice range has inspired countless artists and soothed the rock genre with its passionate and often brooding words. The guitarist, singer and songwriter is best known as lead vocalist for the bands:
Cornell was also the founder and front man for Temple of the Dog, a tribute band dedicated to his friend, the late Andrew (Andy) Wood. Andy, Chris Cornell’s roommate who played in the band Mother Love Bone, died in 1990 from a heroin overdose.
He is also known for his numerous solo works, soundtrack contributions since 1991. Cornell is credited as one of the architects of the 1990’s grunge movement
Chris Cornell was found in the MGM Grand Detroit in the early hours of Thursday morning, May 18, 2017. He had only hours earlier been on stage performing with his Soundgarden band.
Since his teenage years Chris Cornell struggled through multiple battles with addiction and roads to recovery. In one 2006 interview Cornell actually talked about having a bad experience with PCP at age 14 and developed a panic disorder. He admitted that as the child of two alcoholics, drinking ultimately led him back to drugs in his late 20s.
The rocker managed to get off of drugs and alcohol between around the year 1980 up until 1997. Around 1997 his first marriage was failing, and the band Soundgarden had split up. Cornell resorted to using substances including the powerful prescription opioid OxyContin.
In 2002 Cornell checking into rehab, and afterward commented on the experience stating:
“It was a long period of coming to the realization that this way (sober) is better. Going through rehab, honestly, did help … it got me away from just the daily drudgery of depression and either trying to not drink or do drugs or doing them and you know.”
Chris Cornell also noted in an interview in 2011 that the biggest difference he had noticed when Soundgarden had reunited and began making music together was that the presence of alcohol was no longer constant. Without conversation, it had just been removed from the picture.
Wife Vicky Refutes Suicide Reports
Although he was a profoundly emotional musician with a catalog of melancholy or blues melodies, many have called into question whether Chris Cornell would actually knowingly take his own life, including his wife, Vicky. Reports have said Vicky does not believe Cornell was suicidal. Less than 24 hours after the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office determined that Chris Cornell had died as a result of suicide by hanging himself, Cornell’s wife and attorney openly challenged that conclusion. Lawyer Kirk Pasich said in a statement:
“Without the results of toxicology tests, we do not know what was going on with Chris – or if any substances contributed to his demise,”
The statement also said the family found these implications disturbing, and that Chris Cornell was a recovering drug addict who had been taking a prescription anti-anxiety medication Ativan. The statement added:
“The family believes that if Chris took his life, he did not know what he was doing, and that drugs or other substances may have affected his actions,”
The statement included medical literature indicating that,
“Ativan can cause paranoid or suicidal thoughts, slurred speech and impaired judgment.”
The Night Of
Vicky shared her heartbreak over the loss of her husband of 13 years, the father of their two pre-teen children, and told interviews that Cornell, a devoted husband and father, had come home to spend Mother’s Day with his family between shows, and flown to his next stop Wednesday.
“When we spoke before the show, we discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do,”
“When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him.”
In her own words Vicky reasserted the belief that his anti-anxiety medication had played a bigger role in the tragic events, stating:
“What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details. I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life. The outpouring of love and support from his fans, friends and family means so much more to us than anyone can know. Thank you for that, and for understanding how difficult this is for us.”
Cornell leaves behind his wife Vicky, their two children- Toni, 12 years old and Christopher, 11 years old- as well as his 16 year old daughter Lillian Jean from his first marriage to Susan Silver, the former manager for Soundgarden.
Chris Cornell on Black Days
Some might argue the following statement supports the suicide claims, but others could argue it supports the doubts presented by Cornell’s family. Back in 2014, Chris Cornell had spoken in depth with Rolling Stone magazine for a 20th anniversary edition of his band Soundgarden’s ground-breaking Superunknown album. When asked about the song “Fell on Black Days” he had said,
“I’d noticed already in my life where there would be periods where I would feel suddenly, “Things aren’t going so well, and I don’t feel that great about my life.” Not based on any particular thing. I’d sort of noticed that people have this tendency to look up one day and realize that things have changed. There wasn’t a catastrophe. There wasn’t a relationship split up. Nobody got in a car wreck. Nobody’s parents died or anything. The outlook had changed, while everything appears circumstantially the same.”
“No matter how happy you are, you can wake up one day without any specific thing occurring to bring you into a darker place, and you’ll just be in a darker place anyway. To me, that was always a terrifying thought, because that’s something that – as far as I know – we don’t necessarily have control over. So that was the song I wanted to write.”
What this may suggest is that beneath how happy Chris Cornell was with his family and his future, some part of his perspective could have made him even more vulnerable to a sudden shift created by a powerful medication designed to impact emotions.
Anti-Anxiety Drug Ativan
Is it possible that anti-anxiety medication could have played a part in Chris Cornell’s apparent suicide? According to the list of side-effects for Ativan and the common opinion of experts as to the risks associated with these drugs, absolutely.
Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam. This prescription drug calls into the category of benzodiazepine (benzo) medications. Lorazepam is typically used for treating:
- Anxiety disorders
- Sleep problems
- Active seizures
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Nausea or vomiting from chemotherapy
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, serious side effects of using Ativan include:
- Worsening depression
- Unusual mood or behavior
- Suicidal thoughts
- Dizziness, drowsiness
- Slurred speech
- Lack of balance or coordination
- Memory problems
The truth is, Ativan is intended for short-term use, specifically for treating anxiety. In fact, the FDA advises against using any benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam, for longer than four weeks. There is a very real risk of dependence, withdrawal symptoms and even overdose.
The Dangers of Legal Drugs
Back in March 2016 we wrote about how data shows that in the last two decades deaths by overdose of anti-anxiety drugs have quadrupled, which coincides with a tripling rate of these drugs being prescribed. What is even worse, independent reviews from different research groups showed that in many cases the pharmaceutical companies were misrepresenting suicides or suicidal thoughts in their own research reports.
Could the unusual behaviors and slurred speech Vicky described of Chris Cornell be signs of something else at play? Could a lifetime of struggling with a panic disorder, depression and drugs have been exacerbated by the presence of a chemical that worsened his depression, throwing his mood into chaos and flooding his vulnerable state with thoughts of suicide have been the cause of such a heartrending and desperate act? Drugs, legal or not, can devastate.
Now, there is definitely a shadow on the sun.
We have seen time and time again how legal, medical drugs have destroyed amazing and talented individuals. We saw it with Michael Jackson and Prince. We’ve seen how depression plays into the same tragedies, such as with the loss of Robin Williams. Still, one thing Chris Cornell spoke of with addiction is that it becomes glorified by the fact drugs kill famous people, and the world weeps, while ignoring the everyday tragedies of the unknown but extraordinary, everyday people. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Shernide Delva
Were you a Green Day fan growing up? Whether it was “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” or “Wake Me Up When September Ends,” most people found it impossible to avoid hearing their jams in the early 2000s. When I think back to my middle school years, their songs practically play in the background.
The ‘90s pop/punk rock band reached a plateau with their successful American Idiot album in 2004. The album reached number 1 in 19 countries and sold over 15 million copies worldwide. Suddenly, the band was headlining stadiums, and touring the globe. Lead singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong struggled to keep up with the pace.
Armstrong admits that songwriting became this “relentless thing” and he often felt he was “trying too hard.” Ultimately, this led to Armstrong fueling himself with alcohol and pills. Armstrong admits he got to the point where he was surprised to “wake up in the morning.”
Hitting Rock Bottom
Then, 2012 happened. As Rolling Stones reports, Armstrong was “blackout drunk” during a performance at the iHeartRadio festival. Armstrong had a public meltdown. He eventually smashed his guitar in a rage after the band was forced to end their set due to time constraints.
“Let me tell you something, I’ve been around since 19-fucking-88,” he screamed into the microphone, “and you’re gonna give me one fucking minute? I’m not fucking Justin Bieber, you motherfuckers.”
Armstrong’s meltdown was a long time coming. His drinking problems date back to 2003 where he was busted for a DUI. However, he did not realize the severity of his alcohol addiction until he reached his bottom that day onstage. Bassist Mike Dirnt realized at that point how bad his addiction really was:
“The fucking path had gone too far … It was, ‘We’re done. Recognize it. I can’t think about playing with you right now. You got to get right.’”
Armstrong finally made the decision to check into rehab after repeatedly trying to get sober on his own for many years. Dirnst wrote to Armstrong while he was in recovery. One letter read:
“If we make it through this and we get back together, we’re either going to be stronger than ever or we’re going to not be doing this.”
Green Day’s Comeback: New Album
Mike Dirnt might have had a point. Green day is back, and it seems like they are better than ever. The new album, Revolution Radio, comes out on October 7, and critics have already been hailing it as a major comeback for the group. It has been over four years since Green Day last released music, and they had a lot of hurdles to overcome. Thankfully, Armstrong is now sober and has been the past four years.
Reflecting on getting sober, today Armstrong says,
“My foundation was cracked,” and if he hadn’t gotten help, “I don’t know if I would be around.”
These days, instead of getting trashed, Armstrong is enjoying recovery with his family. His 20-year marriage is going strong, and his son Jakob is about to graduate high school. His son is even following in his footsteps by releasing his own music.
“I want to watch my kids go through their experiences,” Armstrong said. “I don’t want them to have to deal with that kind of darkness ever in their lives.”
Four years sober is a major accomplishment and only further exemplifies the importance of seeking treatment. You have the opportunity to live a life free of drugs and alcohol. All it takes is taking that first step. We can teach you to live a happy, healthy life in recovery. All you have to do is call. Do not wait.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Ok, this is actually a pretty crazy story if you ask me. Of course no one did ask me, but if they did… woah. Somebody hold my gold teeth! Not to say celebrities never get sober, or rap artists, but Gucci Mane is one rapper that was infamous for his reputation as a “Trap Artist.” Typically that title means he is a rapper who makes music glorifying selling drugs and the violence that comes with it. Not a huge fan personally, but the guy is definitely one of those “nothing to something” stories that makes you scratch your head to think he’s gone straight.
Gucci Mane- born Radric Delantic Davis in February of 1980- is an American rapper from Atlanta, Georgia. He released his debut album back in 2005, but was getting in trouble long before then and found plenty of it afterwards. Now after serving nearly three years behind bars, Gucci Mane says he is sober and ready to reclaim his throne… 3 years sober!
Radric “Gucci Mane” Davis, had a string of hits in the 2000s including “Wasted” and “Lemonade.” He’s also had a string of arrests that year. At least 10 times since 2001. Most noteworthy was May 10, 2005, when Guccie Mane was attacked by a group of men at a house in Decatur, Georgia. Gucci Mane and his companions shot at the group, killing one. The corpse of one attacker was found later behind a nearby middle school. The rapper turned himself in to police investigators on May 19, 2005, and was subsequently charged with murder. Mr. Gucci Mane claimed that the shots fired by him and his party were in self-defense. The DeKalb County district attorney’s office dropped the murder charge in January 2006 due to insufficient evidence.
On top of such a controversial story, Gucci Mane also has a history of drug related arrests. Various other arrests, including this most recent, were related to assault or weapons charges. Needless to say, Mr. Gucci Mane is notorious for a reason.
When speaking with members of his management team, Todd Moscowitz was quoted by New York Times that,
“every single time that he was about to break through is exactly when he went back to jail.”
In September 2013, he began serving a three-year jail sentence for possession of a firearm by a felon. Since May he has been released to finish his sentence on house arrest.
Recovering Drug Addict
However, it would seem even a guy like Gucci Mane can turn things around. While in jail, Radric “Gucci Mane” Davis got sober. Since then he acknowledges that his addiction has been a primary source of his unruly behavior. His latest album, Everybody Looking, is the first time he’s made music while sober. New York Times again went out of their way to interview him on this development and he stated,
“I felt like I couldn’t make music sober, I couldn’t enjoy my money sober. Why would I wanna go to a club and couldn’t smoke or drink? I felt like sex wouldn’t be good sober. I associated everything with being high. In hindsight I see it for what it was: I was a drug addict.”
This is actually an incredible transition. From “Trap Star” to “Recovery Artist” it seems Davis has really switched it up! Radric “Gucci Mane” Davis is currently overcoming addiction to a wide range of drugs. When talking about his drugs of choice he includes:
Gucci Mane speaks out about his addiction and recovery in his new music. The new single, “No Sleep,” includes him relating to his drugs of choice and his past as a drug dealer. Throughout a lot of these new songs he calls himself a “Recovering Drug Addict” which sounds like some 12 Step Fellowship talk to me.
Determined to Stay Sober
This isn’t the first time Gucci Mane has tried getting clean. This time he was forced to take the withdrawal process on while locked up. This probably has a lot to do with his determination to stay sober. He said in an interview,
“Death. It feel like death. Your body just craving lean bad. Stomach tore up, can’t think straight. Just mad at the world. Temper so short, so violent, so aggressive. So just rude and toxic.”
Gucci Mane says he stays sober with a commitment to:
“I made like a pact to myself: When I get out, no matter what happens, I must record these songs. It was so real when I wrote it,”
Not only is he committed to not letting his career and money making opportunities slip by anymore based on his addictions, he also seems adamant about sharing his experience as much as possible to keep on the right path. The truth is despite his history as a violent drug dealer with a laundry list of criminal offenses, he is a prime example of how recovery is possible for anyone. If a guy like Mr. Gucci can actually hit a bottom despite all the millions of dollars, flashy music videos and multiple arrests to turn himself around and spread a message and change his life than who has an excuse not to?
As surprising as a story like this can be, even a hardcore drug dealing rap artist can fall hard enough to realize there is a serious problem with their substance abuse and addiction. While their lives may be incredibly different, addiction does not discriminate. Luckily, the solution doesn’t either. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
For anyone who wasn’t influenced by the pop-punk rock music craze of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Sum 41 is a band from Ajax, Ontario, Canada that formed in 1996 and debuted their album All Killer, No Filler in 2001. They jumped to mainstream success with the smash hit “Fat Lip” scoring number-one on Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. That album went on to certify as platinum in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.
I know right… I had to listen to the song again just writing this. #2002 all over again!
They followed up with some periods of commercial and critical success. Their last project was Screaming Bloody Murder in 2011 which was met with mixed reception and never reached commercial success compared to previous works. Sum 41 was even nominated for a Grammy at one point. They still tour to this day, but not all original members are still on board.
The band’s leader singer, Deryck Jason Whibley is the longest-lasting member at this point. With the mid-June announcement that the band would be releasing their first studio album since 2011, titled 13 Voices, Whibley recently spoke about his latest work. He has attested it would be a single storyline about his journey through alcoholism. So now a popular punk-rock kid from the past is stepping in to speak out about substance abuse.
Rocking harder than it looks…
As a Grammy nominated band, Sum 41 had some rousing success. As a musician, it would seem Whibley had it all. He was married to Avril Lavigne, and was a success story in his career. But under all the hair dye, black shirts and ripped jeans he was torn up inside, too. At only 34 years old Deryck’s liver and kidneys shut down from drinking.
In one interview last year the Sum 41 singer opened up about being taken to the hospital and put into a medically-induced coma for a week. According to the musician he first woke up feeling great, but as he realized he had a collection of tubes sticking out of him the reality of the situation settled in. He told reporters,
“The doctors said I was lucky to be alive and that there was still a chance I could die.”
“Mentally, I don’t even want to drink again anyway. If I literally hadn’t done it to death, I might feel like I’ll be missing something, but I’m not missing anything. I’m done with it.”
His former wife, Avril Lavigne suggested that she helped Whibley stay off drugs since they got together. They stayed together about 3 years, and divorced in November 2010 on seemingly decent terms.
So if this story tells us anything, we have to understand that even for someone who found fame and fortune so young doing something he loved, drugs and alcohol still had the power over his happiness to some degree. Being wealthy and well-known doesn’t make you immune to addiction.
Moving forward in music…
Now that he is making a new move on his music, he talks about his choice to incorporate his addiction struggles into the writing the new Sum 41 album 13 Voices. The album is due for release in October. During one interview he stated,
“I would go as far as to say it’s a concept record about my entire experience. From beginning to end, I would say it’s chronologically laid out, which I didn’t intend to do at first. I just started writing and it came out. As it grew I realized what it was. At first, I didn’t want to do that. When you’re writing that personally, about yourself, you can fall into a thing or it just being a journal or a diary. As it started going I tried to find ways to make it sound more storytelling than journaling.”
So it would seem Whibley took his experience, strength and hope and laced it over gritty guitars. While he admits there may not be much warmheartedness on the album, it is a story about a dark time in his life. Not saying he hasn’t found some happiness in sobriety. Now sober, Whibley has remarried to model Ariana Cooper. Talking about his sobriety he said,
“There are so many exciting things now. So many things are new for me. I’d never done anything sober. Now there’s this whole world out there and things I’m realizing I’ve never done.”
This seems to be the same experience for a lot of people who stumble their way through a bottom to land themselves in sobriety. Somehow they are often surprised to discover the vastness of life they had been leaving unlived. Maybe for the first time in a while the band will be able to bring back some of that throw-back vibe and spread some message about adversity and overcoming. It’s cool for a blast from the past to pop up and make an effort to share their struggles in the name of their art.
Rock stars, actors and artists are among some of the amazing people who deal with the devastating disease of addiction and fight to overcome it and share their stories. You don’t have to be a celebrity to survive, or to make a difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Music has power, to some of us it is the heartbeat and life-blood of our lives. Music is the diverse and intrinsic translation of the world we love into a variety of voices and tempos that decorate, elaborate and celebrate everything that we are as people, and there is something very transcending and spiritual about music. It speaks to our souls with a cultured voice like nothing else, and it has the ability to transport us to a moment intangible in the world we know, and keeps us in tune with our abstract emotions.
We develop different relationships with different songs, and sometimes we can’t hear a song without thinking of our personal relationships or memories. It takes us home, it pushes us outside ourselves, and in recovery we all have some kind of song/album/band/genre we can surely connect with on some instinctual level.
For me, one of those bands has been Bring Me the Horizon, and even though I prefer to hear their earlier grittier style, I respect their transition and what inspired this change for the vocalist.
Oli Sykes is currently in recovery from an addiction that had distressed his life and career, and thinking back to some of my favorite songs from the album Sempiternal (which saved my life a couple times in addiction and in recovery) it seems like there is plenty of that story in those lyrics. One song in particular entitled “Can You Feel My Heart” says it clearly in a way I feel a lot of addicts can probably understand:
“I’m scared to get close, I hate being alone
I long for that feeling, to not feel at all
The higher I get, the lower I’ll sink
I can’t drown my demons, they know how to swim”
Yes… yes that is my life. My every waking moment in addiction in those exact words.
Looking through the songs on this album, there is some definitive language that would probably be familiar to those of us in the recovery world, and when you listen, the desperation and pain of a man in early recovery seem layered over the surface of these vocals.
Bring Me the Horizon (BMTH) is awesome… just want to get that out of the way. They work really well into my slam-dance-Saturday routine.
Some people are probably going to disagree with me on this one, and I couldn’t be more okay with that, but I have a lot of respect and personal connection to some of this music. Especially in some of my more heated and more jaded moments this band’s intensity and even the anger in their music spoke a lot of the same truth I feel, and a lot still resonates with the experience of surviving those tougher times.
Bring Me the Horizon is a British rock band from Sheffield, Yorkshire. Formed in 2003, the band is fronted by the lead vocalist Oliver Sykes. While their earlier work has been described as the more unforgiving and heavy ‘metalcore’ rock, their style on their latest album That’s the Spirit has been met with some criticism for being a less aggressive and more on the light-side of the band as it shifted over the years from heavy and abrasive, to electronic and versatile.
From throwing in pop music style, along with full choirs and synthesized orchestras, this band gets my respect just for their attempts to evolve.
Speaking Addiction with Oliver ‘Oli’ Sykes
In the band’s album notes, all of Bring Me the Horizon’s lyrics are credited to being written by Oliver Sykes, while all five members as a band wrote the music, so when we look at the lyrics it’s no surprise they translate a lot to the heart of an addict trying to rebuild.
Back in July Oli Sykes was onstage to accept the award for Best Album at the AP Music Awards for Bring Me the Horizon’s Sempiternal release when he stunned the audience and publicly admitted to his drug addiction for the first time.
“I wanna say something that I never thought I’d actually talk about. Before we wrote Sempiternal, I was a f—— drug addict. I was addicted to a drug called ketamine. I was on it for years, and I was f—— off my head. My band wanted to kill me. My parents wanted to kill me. My f——- brother wanted to kill me. Everyone wanted to kill me. But they didn’t—they stood by me. They supported me through all that s—, and we wrote Sempiternal because of it.”
He then went on to talk about his time in rehab, and telling the fans that while no one knew about it he had spent a month in rehab, still receiving letters, text messages and emails from the fans in support. Inspired all along that everyone was unknowing of the turmoil he was facing and expressing great gratitude for the care.
Now in recovery the front-man has stated in an interview with Gigwise that conquering his demons made the band tighter as friends and enabled them to make what he described as their ‘best album to date’.
Sykes also talked about the friends he lost in his recovery process through the difficulty of him realizing he had a problem. He said in another interview he didn’t think there was anything harder than staying friends with a drug addict, and that if it wasn’t for his family, his band and his music he would still be a drug addict, adding:
“…It’s the hardest thing in the world to get through because as soon as you get sober you’re just riddled with guilt…”
Sykes admitted at one point in his addiction he no longer appreciated the things he had, and had even convinced himself he didn’t want it anymore. But now he sees his battle with addiction and his journey thus far in recovery as a blessing in disguise because without it the band would not be able to make the music they are making now.
While the music is drastically different with this new softer voice style Sykes is using, the message behind it seems to be one of great weight and dedication to an intimate internal growth from the distress and hopelessness of active addiction. It may not be as popular for the thrash and hardcore crowd, but it speaks volumes to some of us who have been weighed down by an addiction and come out the other side with a new perspective. Need an example, check out their single “Throne” on the new album.
Drug addiction can affect anyone, and without bias it destroys the lives of those it touches in the most intense and intimate ways. The things we love, the people we cared about and the passions we have are sometimes the catalyst for the transformation we need… but we have to take an action to make a change. Getting help and getting treatment isn’t impossible, and in that we can find new meaning and new freedom in recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135