Jelly Roll Opens Up On Struggles With Drug Addiction: “I Had To Learn That You Could Drink Alcohol Without Doing Cocaine”

Jelly Roll
Manny Carabel/Getty Images

Jelly Roll…the continuing man of the hour.

While fans today know him as the “teddy bear” personality that sings about his past struggles and how he has overcome them, Jelly Roll is genuinely a phoenix that has risen from the ashes.

Jelly Roll has been very candid in the past about his run-ins with the law, but through a recent interview is pulling back the curtains and airing it all about about his past addiction struggles as well.

Jelly Roll sat down with People Magazine, and the two-time Grammy nominee opened up about how he had to evaluate his relationship with some vices before he was on the road to success.

“I had to learn that you could drink alcohol without doing cocaine. It took me a long time to learn that. I’ve never said that, but that’s real. There was a long time where I just assumed, when people told me they drank without doing cocaine, I was like, I thought we only drank to do cocaine.”

Before Jelly Roll was able to overcome his struggles with cocaine, he first had to reevaluate his relationship with alcohol, as the two often went hand in hand for him, leading down a slippery slope.

“I thought (drinking) was to make us not feel like drug addicts. Nobody wants to snort cocaine sober, then you’re a drug addict. But I had to re-look at my relationship with alcohol like that.”

The now-reformed family man says that his ability to reevaluate this relationship is a big reason why he often goes to juvenile centers, now encouraging youth to do the same. Beyond today’s youth, he also sets aside time from his busy touring schedule to perform for inmates and encourages them to turn their lives around. Jelly Roll is a living testament that you can change from your past and be successful.

Although he never went to rehab, he did some hard reflecting that led him to change his ways.

“I always said that if I ever got in this situation, I would do everything I could to give back. The fact that just me showing up places can make people happy is such a gift, and I feel like if God gave me that gift, I should show up.”

Because Jelly Roll was able to show up for himself, he now feels like he needs to show up for the others who face similar issues that he once did.

Jelly Roll still has his vices, enjoying a cocktail or marijuana here and there, but he knows that if he begins to feel urges from his past, how to handle them and keep them under control. When he feels he needs a reminder of his progress, he says he will attend an AA meeting. While he says he doesn’t consider himself a member of the program as he does drink still, he acknowledges how powerful the program is and how much it helps him.

Jelly Roll then says that he is a changed man today, and he is so proud of his progress and has made peace with his past.
“I’ve made a lot of peace with my past. I mean, it still haunts me like the ghosts I know, but I tell you what, I don’t think about doing no drugs today. As far as today goes, I don’t know about tomorrow, but I can tell you, today, right now, I’m happy.”
A massive factor for Jelly Roll turning around his life was the birth of his daughter. Bailee, who is now 15, was born while he was locked up, and he learned about her birth while he was in prison. As he shares a close relationship with his daughter now, it was not always that way.

He recalled on Theo Von’s This Past Weekend podcast that his daughter was the reason he started his Nashville toy drive and recalled sending toys to her right after he came out of prison, although he had yet to meet her.

He now co-parents his daughter and son with his wife of seven years, Bunnie Xo.

“I’m very anchored in my family. Being a father is so important to me. The single most impactful event of my entire life was having my daughter. It changed everything.”

Jelly Roll’s story is unlike any others, and he inspires everyone through it.

A beer bottle on a dock

STAY ENTERTAINED

A RIFF ON WHAT COUNTRY IS REALLY ABOUT

A beer bottle on a dock