Anthony Kiedis – Post Heroin Addiction: Rocking Harder Than Ever
As recovering addicts, we need to hear success stories of those who were able to beat drugs and stay clean. Be they friends we know or people in the public eye, all too often drug use ends with the user either behind bars or six feet under. The media doesn’t help. In their quest to shock readers and viewers, they seem more interested in publishing stories about people who battled with drugs and lost, rather than ones who have triumphed over them.
Perhaps hearing about someone in the limelight who was able to kick their habit might give you inspiration and the motivation you need to keep fighting. It isn’t all that often that you learn of someone who not only beat heroin addiction, but who went on to have an enormously successful career. Defying the odds, here’s one for the record books!
Anthony Kiedis, who is the lead singer and lyricist of the Funk/Rock band The Red Hot Chili Peppers, fought addiction for decades. Exposed to drugs from the time he was 12 years old, shooting up heroin at 14, this is the story of how he turned his life around and got clean.
Exposed to Drugs at a Young Age
Anthony Kiedis was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on November 1, 1962 to John (Blackie) Kiedis and Margaret Noble, who divorced when Kiedis was three years old. While in grade school, Anthony convinced his mother to let him live with his father in California. Blackie had a thriving career as a drug dealer and as the story goes, he frequently took his young son with him on drug runs. Suitcases full of drugs and money, Blackie often sent Anthony with thousands in drug money to score more drugs. A combination of Blackie’s stellar parenting skills and Anthony wanting to emulate the man he admired, it wouldn’t be long before he, too, was using. By junior high school, Anthony was snorting coke and shooting heroin.
Unable to rely on his father, who was usually passed out following a drug-fueled party the night before, Anthony would wake himself up in the morning and get ready for school. Leaving the house required him to sift through a maze of semi-conscious bodies on the floor before scraping leftover cocaine from the living room table for the "fuel" he needed to ride his skateboard to school. Despite the obvious dysfunction and growing addiction, Anthony maintained excellent grades, graduated from high school with honors and was accepted into UCLA. He would later drop out because lacking a scholarship, he couldn’t figure out a way to pay for the tuition.
Meet the Band
Anthony and childhood friends Michael Balzary (more commonly known as Flea) and the late Hillel Slovak founded a band with Jack Irons in 1981, which was originally named Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem. What they lacked in a large repertoire of songs, they made up for with their energy on stage, which featured Anthony doing a combination of singing and rapping. They slowly grew a cult-like following and transformed into the band we know today as the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
It took years and a string of marginally successful albums before the Red Hot Chili Peppers would realize any commercial fame. In the meantime, they had all developed addictions to cocaine and heroin. In 1988, band member Slovak died of an overdose (using a combination of cocaine and heroin called speedballs). It was the bottom that Kiedis needed check himself into rehab. He managed to stay clean for five years.
The band finally achieved commercial success with the release of 1991′s BloodSugarSexMagik, with the spiritually moving Give it Away and Under the Bridge, which is a harrowing account of Anthony’s darker days shooting heroin on urine soaked mattresses, under a bridge in the MacArthur Park section of Los Angeles.
Like so many addicts, Kiedis fought addiction for years, in and out of rehab with stretches of sobriety in between. In 2004, Kiedis penned a memoir, entitled Scar Tissue. In it Anthony describes in detail his history with drug use and about the moment of his spiritual awakening, which occurred on December 24, 2000. Sick and tired of being sick and tired, on that Christmas Eve, Kiedis walked into a Narcotics Anonymous meeting, spiritually defeated and emotionally drained. He announced himself as a newcomer and was met with a warm welcome. He has not left since. There are many accounts of regular folk being surprised to see him in a meeting, sharing his story, unedited and acting like any other recovering dope fiend. In his own words, "It’s easy to be a junkie."