We know Billie Joe Armstrong as the edgy singer from Green Day…or, well, we did until his breakdown on stage this September at iHeartRadio Music Festival. In a much more publicized way, he embodied the alcoholic meltdown as he screamed at the crowd who he was not, and then couldn’t remember what he said the very next morning.
Thankfully, Billie Joe went to rehab, has been sober ever since, and recently opened up about his alcoholism. He brings up a lot of relatable and candid points, from feeling like he didn’t belong in rehab despite the wake of destruction he left, to the mental obsession we alcoholics are so familiar with.
Mr. Armstrong had been trying to get sober for sixteen years prior to being told he was getting on a plane and going to rehab, yet he still felt like he didn’t belong there, didn’t have a problem. He caused a public scene that resulted in his band cancelling the rest of their tour dates, but he still believed he wasn’t an alcoholic.
He came close to losing his wife, kids, and band – everything he held dear. It’s such a common, heartbreaking theme. So many walk through the doors of rehab centers wondering how they got there – as if people end up in treatment accidentally. As they find themselves battling the onslaught of withdrawals, many alcoholics find themselves trying to make sense of a disease that doesn’t work within the confines of reason.
Billie Joe Armstrong is the prime example of surrender. You can fight it all you want, but if you’re an alcoholic, you’re going to be an alcoholic whether you agree to it or not. It’s only once you give in that you can begin to get better, as he has shown in his own recovery.
Another important aspect of the disease of alcoholism that Billie Joe Armstrong has touched upon is the obsession with alcohol. Luckily, not all of us are rock stars who have to deal with drunken groupies throwing themselves at us. However, he is, and he openly admits that the obsession is still there.
The band has to discuss a “no-alcohol” policy for their upcoming tour, despite the fact that ¾ of their concert goers will consume alcohol. The mental obsession is a huge part of this disease, and it is what leads a lot of people back to the bottle or needle or whatever their poison is.
Having support is an incredibly important part of a sober lifestyle, but working an honest program is definitely a way to remove the mental obsession over time. Touring is stressful, and although the circumstances are less than desirable, if he wants it, he will make it to a meeting and make it happen.
Celebrities are people – they fall into the same traps and pitfalls the rest of us do. Billie Joe Armstrong’s continued candidness about his struggle for sobriety means he’s trying to hold himself accountable, and I wish him nothing but the best. This disease is a monster, but with the support of the people who love him in and out of the rooms, this singer never has to go back to his old ways – and neither do we.
Brandt, Jadyn. Billie Joe Armstrong opens up about years of drug abuse. 27 February 2013. 28 February 2013.
Goddard, Caroline. Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong: Detox was “gruesome”. 28 February 2013. 28 February 2013.