Keith Urban Reflects On Battle With Drugs & Alcohol: “Took Me A Long Time To Get Sober”

Keith urban country music
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Country music and drugs/alcohol go together like cocaine and waffles.

At any given moment you can flip on country radio and hear a song about crushing beers with the boys, drowning your sorrows in a bottle of whiskey, and these days, even blowing a little smoke.

And country music also has no shortage of those who’ve battled substance abuse issues, whether it’s alcohol, cocaine, pain killers or more.

The drug use of legends like Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash is well documented. The great Keith Whitley’s career was tragically cut short after succumbing to alcohol poisoning, and then you have artists like George Jones whose alcohol abuse cost him a marriage to Tammy Wynette, and nearly his career.

These days, artists like Tim McGraw, Keith Urban, Brantley Gilbert have had publicized battles with drugs and alcohol, artists like Margo Price, BJ Barham, Jason Isbell have their own stories of getting sober, and then there’s artists like Josh Turner who’s never had a drop.

In a recent profile with Rolling Stone, Keith Urban went in-depth on his his 15 year journey of sobriety:

“It took me a long time to get sober… took me a long time to recognize my alcoholism. A long time because I didn’t drink like my dad, so I compared everything to him.

So it just took a long time for me. But I was able to finally make the right choice in my life, that I wish my dad would have made.”

But for Urban, a country music star and guitar shredding rockstar, the story was all too common:

“It’s not an uncommon story. You know, the career’s on fire and the personal life is also on fire, completely in the wrong way. That was the case for me. I was a real binge drinker.”

But it wasn’t until he started using cocaine that it went into overdrive:

“I’d never been around anything like that in Australia. Only pot smokers, you know, not much more. And suddenly I’m with a guy who is freebasing coke. That was a whole other world that I fell into really fast.”

So how has he managed to stay sober all these years?

A sponsor helps:

“I’ve got a really great sponsor I’ve had for years and years, and early on we were sitting down talking and he says: ‘Keith, you know how much people think of you?’. And I said, ‘How much?’ and he goes, ‘Rarely’.

I carry that with me all the time and I love it so much.”

Tough love, eh?

But if you think being sober has become a cornerstone of Urban’s personality, as well as his professional life, it’s not. He doesn’t want his own personal issues with substance abuse to affect how others choose to partake.

As he puts it, he’s not a walking AA meeting:

“The reason I don’t really talk much about sobriety is it’s a very personal thing and I don’t want anyone thinking that I have a negative opinion of drugs or alcohol. I don’t have any at all, none. I want people to come to my concert and do whatever the hell they want to do.

I don’t want people at my concert looking at the stage and thinking about sobriety. That would be the death of a gig for me. It’s not what I want. I’m not there for that. I’m not an AA meeting.

I’m on stage and I’m playing and I’m singing, and we’re going to have a great time. We’re going to let go of everything and be in the moment.”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock