Metallica Singer Reveals How Rehab Helped Him Get Sober
Everyone has a motivating factor for getting sober. For Metallica frontman James Hetfield, it was the fear of losing his family.
The rock icon spoke about the turning point in his life 15 years ago in a new interview with The Joe Rogan Experience. Metallica’s partying ways during the ‘80s were of legendary status, even earning them the nickname “Alcoholica.” Hetfield’s alcohol abuse and departure from the band to enter rehab was chronicled in the 2004 documentary about the band, Some Kind of Monster, but admitted his decision to enter treatment was hardly spur of the moment.
“Fear was a big motivator in that for me. Losing my family, that was the thing that scared me so much, that was the bottom I hit, that my family is going to go away because of my behaviors that I brought home from the road,” said Hetfield. “My family kind of disintegrated when I was a kid. Father left, mother passed away, had to live with my brother, and then kind of just, where did my stuff go? It just kind of floated away, and I do not want that happening. No matter what’s going on, we’re going to talk this stuff out, and make it work.”
Although his fellow bandmates had expressed concern about his substance abuse for years, the catalyst was when his wife, Francesca, kicked him out of the house. Although Hetfield looked back on his time in treatment as a difficult experience, he said it was essential to maintain his relationship with those he loves most.
“She said, ‘Hey, you’re not just going to the therapist and talking about this, you’ve got to go somewhere and sort this out,’ so that’s what I did,” he said. “What worked for me was seven weeks someplace, basically tearing you down to bones and ripping your life apart, anything you thought about yourself or what it was … Strip you down to just … Here’s how you were when you were born. You were okay, you were a good person, let’s get back to that again. Then they slowly rebuild you.”
There were other benefits to Hetfield getting sober, though. The singer said he is now a more focused musician and has lost interest in the glitz of fame. The song “Moth Into Flame,” featured on the band’s latest release Hardwired…to Self-Destruct, talks about how fame itself served as an addiction.
“There was drinks and drugs and all kinds of stuff just thrown at you all the time. It starts off as a fun little thing,and then it turns into an escape, and then all of a sudden you don’t remember why you’re out there doing stuff,” said Hetfield. “I went on tour just so I could go to the strip clubs, or we’re going to drink here, but the actual playing on stage, it kind of got forgotten about a little bit.”