Recovery Spotlight Elton John

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April 26, 2021

Elton John is one of the most popular and influential musical artists of all time. He’s sold more than 300 million records worldwide, won five Grammy Awards, and has had more than 50 Top 40 hits in both US and the UK. He’s also been sober for almost 31 years, after a debilitating battle with addiction that almost left him dead. Here’s his inspiring story.

Elton John’s Life in the Fast Lane

Born in Pinner, Middlesex, England in 1947, Elton John was just 22 years old when he released his first album in 1969. Over the next decade, he became an international superstar, releasing some of the most iconic rock songs of the 20th century, including “Tiny Dancer,” “Rocket Man,” “Bennie and the Jets“, and “Goodbye Yellow Brock Road.” His success carried over seamlessly into the 1980s (which was not the case with many popular musicians of the time) with hits like “I’m Still Standing,” “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” and “Sad Songs (Say So Much)” dominating the charts.

But behind the scenes, the critically acclaimed musician had become dependent on alcohol and drugs to help him cope with the pressures of fame. The “Candle in the Wind” singer says he quickly became caught in the vicious cycle of addiction, using to excess and endangering his life but not being able to stop.

“I came very close to dying,” John admitted in 2012. “I’d have an epileptic seizure and turn blue and people would find me on the floor and put me to bed, and then 40 minutes later I’d be snorting another line….I didn’t stop the life that I had, which is the terrible thing about addiction. It’s that – you know, it’s that bad of a disease.”

Elton John Found Recovery

After spending years in the throes of his substance use (and losing many friends to the disease), John finally realized he needed to make a change. In 1990, the “I’m Still Standing Singer” took the first step in embarking on his amazing recovery journey. “If I hadn’t finally taken the big step of asking for help 30 years ago, I’d be dead,” the singer wrote in a 2020 Tweet celebrating his 30th sober anniversary. “Thank-you from the bottom of my heart to all the people who have inspired and supported me along the way.”

Since getting sober, John has helped other notable celebrities struggling with addiction, including fellow music artist and friend Eminem. He continues to be an outspoken advocate for recovery, encouraging people to slow down from the hustle and bustle of everyday life to seek the treatment they need. “Today, my best advice to people who are facing those difficult early days of sobriety is to get humble,” he said in a 2019 interview with Variety. “Make recovery your absolute priority over everything else. Don’t go back to work too soon. Take the time you need to learn and heal. I don’t think I would still be sober today if I hadn’t taken that whole year off and thrown myself into my program of recovery.”

Finding Recovery

Elton John found recovery more than three decades ago. A life free of substance isn’t exclusive to celebrities. Everyday, people who struggle with addiction take the first steps to find sobriety. Oftentimes, these first steps involve addiction treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, know that there is help out there. A life of sobriety can be little more than a phone call away!

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