Chris Stapleton On Deciding To Get Sober: “I Got Into A Drinking Contest With Myself…And I Lost”

Chris Stapleton country music
Becky Fluke

There’s plenty of alcohol in Chris Stapleton‘s music.

With songs like “Whiskey And You,” “Might As Well Get Stoned,” and of course his biggest hit, “Tennessee Whiskey,” it’s hard not to see the soulful country superstar as a rough-around-the-edges partier behind the scenes.

But while whiskey may be a common theme in his songs, Stapleton revealed during a recent interview that he’s actually almost entirely sober – a decision that he made after entering an industry where drinking can sometimes seem like a requirement of the job.

In a recent interview with GQ, he discussed feeling like he had to have alcohol so that he could understand the songs he was writing:

“When you’re younger, you feel like you have to do certain things in order to occupy some of these spaces, to make yourself feel like you’re legit.

You want to feel things. You want to be able to write about things authentically.

If somebody working a different kind of job drank themselves to death in the name of being better at that job, it wouldn’t make sense to anybody. We wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, he must have been the greatest electrician who ever lived.’”

But eventually, he realized that his relationship with alcohol wasn’t healthy:

“I like to tell people that I got into a drinking contest with myself in my 20s, and I lost.”

So when he made the decision to get sober, Chris said it wasn’t a situation where he had to get professional help for his drinking, but a decision that he made for his health – and his powerful voice:

“I didn’t have to go to rehab, but from a 45-year-old-man health perspective, a doctor’s gonna look at me and go, ‘Hey, man, probably cut out the drinking,’ and I’d be like, ‘Okay, cool.’”

It’s easy to see how artists and songwriters coming up in the music industry feel like they have to drink in order to “fit in,” especially when so many of the legends of country music were known for their battles with drugs and alcohol. It’s the pain from the struggle that often results in some of the greatest songs, but that leads artists to think they have to feel that pain themselves to be able to keep up.

Chris has clearly proven that’s not the case though, an example that will hopefully help dispel the notion that drugs and alcohol are necessary evils in the music industry.

And as Chris gears up to release his next album, Higher, on November 10, I have a feeling the songs will be just as good – if not better – because he wrote them with a clear mind.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock