Elton John’s Journey to Sobriety

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Born Reginald Dwight in 1947, the boy who would later grow up to be Elton John didn’t have the easiest of childhoods. His father was often absent and uninterested in his son, and his parents divorced when he was a teenager after discovering his mother was having an affair. Elton turned to drugs to numb his pain, and then after an event that affected him deeply, he fought hard to become sober. Elton Jhon’s addiction and subsequent recovery is an inspiration to all those struggling with addiction.

Elton John’s Music Career

Elton John started playing piano as a child, and at age 11, he won a junior scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. As a teenager, he was hired as a pianist at a local pub and began writing his own music. At age 20, he began working with lyricist Bernie Taupin, and their collaboration continued for decades. The early 1970s saw the release of several highly successful albums, including “Tumbleweed Connection,” “Madman Across the Water,” and “Honky Château.” These albums included hit songs like “Your Song,” “Rocket Man,” and “Tiny Dancer,” which helped catapult him to fame.

Elton John’s Drug Abuse

What led to Elton John’s drug addiction? During the 1970s and early 1980s, coinciding with the height of his fame and success, Elton John developed a serious cocaine addiction. Cocaine was widely used in the music and entertainment industry during that era, and Elton John was no exception. He said, “My appetite for the stuff was unbelievable — enough to attract comment in the circles I was moving in.” He has spoken openly about using cocaine as a coping mechanism to deal with the pressures of fame, his demanding schedule, and personal issues. There are many celebrities who turned to drugs as a result of their showbiz lifestyles, though unfortunately, not all of them had the happy ending that John eventually did.

In an interview with NPR, John explained that cocaine helped him to overcome his shyness. A naturally shy person, the singer said, “I was incredibly confident onstage because that’s where I loved to be, but offstage there was no balance.” Cocaine helped him to open up and become more talkative and less inhibited in social situations. Still, as is often the case with drug abuse, the honeymoon phase is followed by a downfall, with the user experiencing many negative side effects. John explains that cocaine “became the drug that closed me down, because the last two weeks of my use of cocaine I spent in a room in London, using it and not coming out for two weeks… [it] ended up by me isolating myself alone with it, which is the end of the world, really.”

In an interview with Variety, John explained that there were moments when he thought he wouldn’t survive. He said, “There were times I was having chest pains or staying up for three days at a time,” he recalled. “I used to have spasms and be found on the floor and they’d put me back to bed and half an hour later I’d be doing the same. It’s crazy.” 

Elton John’s Inspiration To Recover

When did Elton John get sober? In his memoir, Love Is the Cure, John explains how his connection with Ryan White acted as an impetus for his recovery. White was a young American hemophiliac who contracted HIV through contaminated blood products used to treat his condition. He was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984 when he was just 13 years old. John offered White and his family support and assistance, both emotionally and financially - including helping them move house when their neighbors ostracized them - during their difficult journey. After White passed away, Elton John was influenced to consider his own life and his close calls to death due to his drug use. In an interview with NPR, John explained:

When I knew Ryan [White], I knew that my life was out of whack. I knew that I had to change. And after he died, I realized that I only had two choices: I was either going to die or I was going to live, and which one did I want to do? And then I said those words, ‘I’ll get help,’ or, ‘I need help. I’ll get help.’ And my life turned around. Ridiculous for a human being to take 16 years to say, ‘I need help.’

In many cases, it takes drug users to experience the death of a loved one until they are able to wake up and see how they could also die if they continue down the same path they’re on. 

The Recovery Journey: When Did Elton John Go to Rehab?

The next part of Elton’s recovery took place in rehab. He checked himself into a rehab in July 1990 and that year is when Elton Jhon became sober . In an interview with Variety, he said, “For the first time in a very long time, I listened to others intently as I came to understand that I had so much to learn.” One of the many benefits of rehab is that it allows a person with a substance use disorder to take a step back and look at their life in a way they might not have before. It allows them to listen to and learn from other addicts who are going through the same thing, as well as trained professionals who can guide them on their journey to recovery.

John elucidated, “When you come out of treatment, it’s like being reborn. You are so stripped down and completely vulnerable. It’s like starting life over with a new rule book for living.” People tend to take drugs to run away from their life problems and pretend they don’t exist. Becoming sober allows the individual to confront their challenges head-on, however uncomfortable it might make them feel. It enables them to live with greater honesty about who they are and what they have gone through and accept themselves wholeheartedly.


How Long Has Elton John Been Sober?

2020 marked thirty years of Elton Johns sobriety. This astounding accomplishment shows Elton John’s determination and consequent success at living a life free of drugs

If you are struggling with drug addiction or have a loved one who is, don’t hesitate to contact Avenues Recovery today. If Elton John has been sober for over 30 years then you can achieve and maintain sobriety too. Reach out to us so that our highly trained and understanding addiction counselors can design a personalised treatment plan to give you the best chance at recovery. Take inspiration from Elton Jhon and with the help of our professional and successful staff, you can also look forward to celebrating that milestone too.

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