28 Mar Eric Clapton Reflects on Two Decades of Sobriety in Autobiography
It’s been more than two decades since world-famous musician Eric Clapton says he has used drugs, and today, the father of three is still surprised that he made it through his addiction years – which included heroin, alcohol and cocaine.
At the rise of his career, the guitarist says his addictions threatened to consume him – physically, emotionally and financially. Now in his mid-60s, Eric Clapton is reflecting on his dark times and recovery from addiction, looking back to his ironically popular remake of the song “Cocaine” in 1977.
Clapton talks about his former struggles with drugs and alcohol in his autobiography titled “Clapton,” saying that he convinced himself he was still in control and could stop using heroin when he desired. Like many who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction, a person’s ability to stop using the substance is lost, and professional help is needed to begin to reach sobriety again.
It’s likely that many of Eric Clapton’s fans may not even realize the intensity of his addictions during the early years of his career, and how strongly they affected his life. He recalls in interviews that he experienced a three-year phase of heroin addiction, where he found it very difficult to leave the house and to play music on a live stage. At one of his lowest points, the musician recalls considering suicide.
As is common in the progressive nature of addictions, after stopping a three-year heroin addiction span, Clapton said the alcohol addiction was still strong. On one occasion, he played for a live audience and couldn’t even stand up. He also recalls writing in journals during the years of his addictions, even when under the influence of alcohol. He pulled out some of those notes for the autobiography – which helped him recall experiences he says the drugs made it difficult to remember.
Surprisingly, Clapton says taking to the stage and playing music lying down seemed acceptable at that time, because the addiction was so strong that simply arriving for the show seemed an accomplishment. He also alludes to the fact that many of the people he spent time with during the height of his addictions were also engaged in dangerous behaviors. The musicians he escalated to personal hero status were heavily involved with life-threatening drug addictions.
Music, says Clapton, allowed him to keep moving forward during his worst addiction phases. Once he reached sobriety, learning to play music and to be intimate with women required new ways of thinking and the ability to conquer some underlying fears. Before he reached recovery, the music and his relationships with women, says Clapton, were often carried out under alcohol’s influence.
Recovery didn’t happen immediately for the legendary celebrity. He participated in more than one span of recovery treatment, spurred on by those close to him. Today, Eric Clapton continues to tour, but says his priority is his family as he reflects on his hard-won years of sobriety.
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