Author: Justin Mckibben
This past Tuesday, Academy Award-winning actor, screenwriter and producer Ben Affleck made a powerful and inspiring announcement to his fans and friends via social media. Since then the internet has lit up with articles and insights on how this public admission could be seen as a heroic moment to so many people all over the country.
Ben Affleck has the honor of being the new face of Bruce Wayne, bringing the Batman to life in the most recent installments to DC’s feature films. So he is no stranger to the role of a hero with a dark past.
Being open and honest with the world Affleck publicized he had completed treatment for alcoholism, and so many in the recovery community and advocates for addiction have found it as a beacon… or “BAT SIGNAL” if you will… (I will)… for all those struggling to overcome the stigma and see they are not alone.
In an emotionally-charged note to his fans, Ben posted on Facebook stating:
“I have completed treatment for alcohol addiction; something I’ve dealt with in the past and will continue to confront. I want to live life to the fullest and be the best father I can be. I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step. I’m lucky to have the love of my family and friends, including my co-parent, Jen, who has supported me and cared for our kids as I’ve done the work I set out to do. This was the first of many steps being taken towards a positive recovery.”
This is also not the first time Affleck has done battle with alcoholism. The 44-year-old actor has faced his own alcohol addiction in the past, while his childhood was also impacted by the influence of alcoholism on his father.
Alcoholism in the Family
In 2012 Ben Affleck did an interview with Barbra Walters discussing his parent’s divorce when he was 12 years old. During the interview Affleck stated:
“[My father] was an alcoholic… I did know that as a child. He drank a lot. My father was a — what did they call him — a real alcoholic. He, you know, drank all day, drank every day, and to his credit, he got sober ultimately,”
“He’s been sober for several decades, which I think is pretty impressive.”
At this time he credited his brother and his closest friends, including Matt Damon, of helping him through a difficult childhood. After Ben Affleck earned his place in Hollywood for his work with Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting in 1997, he gave up drinking at 24-years-old.
Ben Affleck’s First Time in Rehab
In July of 2001, Ben Affleck completed a 30-day residential rehabilitation program for alcohol abuse. But this experience didn’t seem to convince Affleck at the time he was in danger of real alcoholism. In a 2012 statement, he had said,
“I went to rehab for being 29 and partying too much and not having a lot of boundaries and to clear my head and try to get some idea of who I wanted to be.”
Not saying it wasn’t an important experience, but this statement seems to lean closer to the ‘I’m not as bad as some people’ line.
In 2004, Ben Affleck married Jennifer Garner, his co-star from another comic hero film Daredevil. Sources at the time said Affleck’s new married put a halt on all the hard partying. Batfleck began to settle down and start up a family. The two were later blessed with 3 children: Violet, age 11, Seraphina, age 8, and Sam, age 5. Affleck says,
“I think becoming a father makes you see the world differently and it’s good.”
However, Jennifer and Ben did eventually split in 2015. Still, early reports are indicating Jennifer is an important part of Ben’s current path to sobriety.
While Ben Affleck has been more private about his time in rehab this time around, speculation began when Batfleck was spotted with woman while out and about in Los Angeles that a source later told ET was actually a sober coach Ben had been working with named Elizabeth Weaver.
Other sources have indicated to ET reporters that while Affleck no longer works with Weaver, he was supported by another sober companion while showing up to the 2017 Oscars to support his brother Casey Affleck who won Best Actor.
Looking forward a bit, it’s interesting that the next Batman solo movie starring Ben Affleck is also set to star Joe Manganiello as the infamous villain Deathstroke. Joe Manganiello has also had his struggles with alcohol. In a past interview Manganiello stated,
“My life was ruined. I was homeless, careless and broke with no career.”
The former “Magic Mike” and “True Blood” star has been sober over twelve years! In a 2015 interview Joe Manganiello said his sobriety was “very close to [his] heart.” With him starring as a rival assassin and all out bad mofo in the next Batman against Affleck, one has to wonder if a sober bro-mance might blossom between the two Hollywood action heroes.
Heroes and Alcoholism
One inspiring aspect of all this is that it not only gives us a reason to see past the stigma of alcoholism and addiction, but it also makes those who suffer feel more connected to the people who they may look up to; more connected to their heroes.
In fact, I remember watching Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne in the recent Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice movie. In one scene Bruce Wayne wakes up, fighting back his nightmares, and reaches to a nightstand cluttered by wine bottles to get a bottle of pills. Moments later his butler Alfred Pennyworth, played by the amazing Jeremy Iron, even comments on hoping:
“- the next generation of Waynes won’t inherit an empty wine cellar.”
I related in a big way to the idea even Batman is drinking and popping pills to escape. As a recovering alcoholic and lifelong Batman buff, I felt connected to a feeling I believe is unspoken but relevant to the character, the actor, and the reality of addiction.
It’s almost ironic to me, looking back. To see a well-known and highly celebrated actor like Ben Affleck play my lifelong hero, and in the midst of critical divisiveness over his recent projects still have the strength to speak out about his hardship with alcoholism and the love of his family getting him through, it’s an interesting sense of empathy. Again, when his post says,
“… I want my kids to know there is no shame in getting help when you need it, and to be a source of strength for anyone out there who needs help but is afraid to take the first step…”
That is a strong statement. Batfleck has put himself out there with solidarity and compassion for those who are struggling with alcoholism and addiction. He may not be the first, but he is still a pretty prominent voice in Hollywood today, and that means something. He wants his own kids, and everyone else, to know they should never be afraid to ask for help.
A big piece of this we can all appreciate is that when successful professionals, artists or family-oriented individuals take a public approach to acknowledging addiction, it gives us all another perspective. Those on the outside looking in can see it in the men and women they admire. Their peers can be inspired to take a similar stand on self-improvement and raising awareness. Batman himself has said,
“I have one power. I never give up.”
Bruce Wayne is a man who dedicated himself to being a symbol. Ben Affleck is a man who has struggles and is choosing to have a voice. If more of us chose to have a voice, to take a stance and not give up, we could help others still who don’t know there is a choice.
It can be surprising to see so many successful people are recovering alcoholics and addicts. Sometimes we don’t realize our favorite artists and actors have dealt with something so difficult to get through. The more heroes we have every day that step up and share their message of hope, the more hope we may have that people seek the help they desperately need. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
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
The well-known hip-hop artist Macklemore, born Ben Haggerty, earned himself quite a following a few years ago when he broke out on the scene with his breakout album, The Heist, which won him the 2014 Grammy for Best Rap Album. Macklemore and collaborator Ryan Lewis also scored the Best New Artist Award, along with a bunch of No. 1 singles.
One thing setting Macklemore apart from his peers was his speaking openly about his recovery from drugs and alcohol, and his music sending messages of hope and inspiration. His status as a sober musician was very public and seemed to draw even more fans toward his positive influence with some inspiring songs about recovery from addiction.
So it was a bit of a bummer recently to hear he admitted in an interview he’s in the process of recovering from a relapse. Still, his honesty should be admired considering how difficult it can be for some, and his shared experience might help others avoid making similar choices.
Price of Fame
32 year old Macklemore and 27 year old Ryan Lewis retreated to their native Seattle, Washington to work on new music after they had grabbed up a mantle full of awards for their initial album, and it was in this Macklemore has noted he began slipping back into some of his old bad habits and how he began to regress to a more destructive youth, trying to escape from the new found fame and the downsides that came with it.
In an interview he stated:
“I held it together for a while. But, eventually, I stopped going to my 12-step meetings. I was burnt out. I was super-stressed. We weren’t sleeping — doing a show every day, zigzagging all over the country. In terms of the media I was getting put into a box that I never saw for myself. The pressure and the fame — everything. All the clichés, man — like not being able to walk around, having no privacy, and from this TV appearance to this TV appearance, and the criticism, and the lack of connection, and the lack of meetings — all of that put into one pie was just…I just wanted to escape.”
One good thing is he was quick to point out where he had made his mistakes and what brought him to relapse. Between stress from his work, feeling disconnected, and not keeping up with his program of action which he used to maintain sobriety he found himself wondering if he could safely use, which turned out not to in his best interests.
Macklemore admitted that he was not able to get back on the wagon right away, and said it actually took the intervention of his fiancee, Tricia Davis, finding sleeping pills hidden in his shoe at the SXSW festival for him to even try to sober up.
This was short lived as he kept putting himself around drugs to catch ‘contact highs’ before jumping right back into smoking weed. He experienced the typical pattern of bargained with himself about sobriety that so many addicts are familiar with, saying:
“You know, like, Monday, I’ma stop…. OK. Tuesday, I’ma stop…. OK, f— it, I might as well go on to the weekend. Sunday, I’m done. But after this bag of weed…,”
The relapse took a turn for the worst when he started attending business meetings high and stopped making music, then he started to see the faults in his choices,
“I felt so dumb. I felt like I’m just wasting time. What am I escaping here?”
Eventually a major life change for Macklemore gave him a new reason to rededicate himself to working his 12 step program again to try and save himself.
Back to Basics
Macklemore stumbled back and forth through his relapse for a little while, but in September 2014 he found out his fiancée was pregnant with their first child, and everything changed. Macklemore started attending his 12-step meetings again, and is making an effort to find his way back to the basics and grow up, saying:
“Since I heard that Tricia was pregnant, I was like, ‘I need to grow up right now.’”
His new sobriety has also helped to get the creative juices flowing.
“…as it always works, the minute that I start actively seeking recovery — not just sobriety, but recovery — music is there. It always has been. Songs write themselves. My work ethic turns off-to-on in a second and I get happy again. I get grateful again.”
Looking at the transition he went through in his relapse, Macklemore seems to be aware of where he fell short and how to address these issues in his life. His emphasis on 12 step meetings and the connection he felt his active recovery has to his passion in music shows he has a great deal of respect for his sobriety and the means by which he has chosen to keep it.
Artists and celebrities are human just like the rest of us; sometimes they recover and sometimes they relapse. Thankfully there is always recovery even after a relapse. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Thomas Alan “Tom” Waits is a celebrated American singer-songwriter with a distinctive voice so growly with grit it’s strangely smooth and somehow conceptually classic. He is also a composer who has worked on several movies and musicals, not to mention an awesome actor. Born in December of 1949 Waits has even been nominated for various awards including an Academy Award for his soundtrack work on One from the Heart, and has even been awarded Grammy Awards for two albums, all while being listed in 2010 by Rolling Stone magazines 100 Greatest Singers.
While his name may not be as known as it should, you probably would know his face. What might not be common knowledge is Mr. Waits is also sober, and has openly discussed his sobriety, as well as the struggles it took him to get there. While we honor this multi-talented and noteworthy artist, let us take a closer look at the living legend and his path to recovery.
One thing consistent in his conversation is the fact his experience has shown his creative can survive in sobriety, which means the world to a lot of us more obscure folks.
Back in 2006 Tom Waits did an interview talking about his life, his loving wife, and the trials and turmoil leading to his recovery. That year he was 14 years sober, so if you’re doing the math that means he would be 23 years sober this year! Over 2 decades of a dramatic life shift has taken place, and he is more than willing to talk tactics and relationships.
During his 2006 interview Waits stated,
“Oh you know, it was tough. I went to AA. I’m in the program. I’m clean and sober. Hooray. But, it was a struggle.”
When asked if he missed the drinking days, Tom Wait’s honesty was in no short supply either.
“Nah. Not the way I was drinking. No, I’m happy to be sober. Happy to be alive. I found myself in some places I can’t believe I made it out alive.”
And then of course there was the question of how taking drugs and alcohol out of the equation might have hindered his creative process, and what it meant to work as a genuinely irregular genius. If you’re an alcoholic like me, you might get a warm fuzzy feeling or familiarity at his response.
“No. I don’t think so. I mean, one is never completely certain when you drink and do drugs whether the spirits that are moving through you are the spirits from the bottle or your own. And, at a certain point, you become afraid of the answer. That’s one of the biggest things that keeps people from getting sober, they’re afraid to find out it was the liquor talking all along.”
“I was trying to prove something to myself, too. It was like, ‘Am I genuinely eccentric? Or am I just wearing a funny hat? What am I made of? What’s left when you drain the pool?”
Waits even gave some credit of his sobriety to the wonders of the intimate relationship he built with Kathleen Brennan, a scriptwriter he met in 1978. Kathleen has become his companion and collaborator for over two decades now,, with the two of them sharing three children, Casey, Kelly and Sullivan.
When Tom Waits was once asked what his wife brought to the table, he replied, ‘Blood and liquor and guilt, ‘ so when he says that Kathleen saved his life, he means it quite literally. When asked about if she inspired his recovery Tom said,
“Oh yeah, for sure. But I had something in me, too. I knew I would not go down the drain, I would not light my hair on fire, I would not put a gun in my mouth. I had something abiding in me that was moving me forward. I was probably drawn to her because I saw that there was a lot of hope there.”
For a man who built a life around a brand of music with the feel of bad news, bourbon, bullets and bar-stools reaching back to a time of blues and rock and roll in its rawest form, it seems it can feel out of place and obscure in modern age. But Tom Waits for no man to validate his victory ballads for the broken and beautiful.
When asked again about his sobriety and his comments on the contribution it made to his music in 2011, Tom Waits stated,
“I think maybe when you drink, you’re probably robbing yourself of that genuine experience, even though it appears what you’re doing is getting more of it. You’re getting less of it.”
It’s pretty awesome to hear this kind of conscientious chatter from a guy infamous for a crude image of the old school drunk. To get an honest and open feel for a man who has done all he can to beat to his own booze-free good-old-boy style drum. The opinion of sobriety being an essential element to his most real expression of being eccentric and creative is inspiring, especially to someone who has also feared losing touch with a more talented or unique self without substances.
Rock on Tom… you amazing weirdo!
Celebrating recovery isn’t just a famous people thing. Every day people all over the country celebrate their renewed life through recovering from drugs and alcohol thanks to a program of action that often begins with the commitment to make a change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135