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Circling the Drain, Keeping my Head Above


When I think of songs that remind me of my life as an active addict, Katy Perry is not usually the first artist that pops into my mind. However, her song Circle the Drain is the first song that comes into my mind when I think of how I made others feel, and why I never want to go back to where I was. It paints an accurate picture of how we as addicts and alcoholics break hearts, cause damage, and leave wreckage as we self-destruct. Broken promises, wasted potential, becoming the exact people we once despised, looking desperately to be saved, and ultimately hurting ourselves and others. This song, and the circumstances surrounding it, reminds me of the friends I’ve lost and how much worse things can get, if I choose to go back to the life I was living.

“Circle The Drain” was inspired by Perry’s ex-boyfriend, Johnny Lewis, who struggled with drug addiction. I can hear the words that I promised my friends, family, and anyone who cared about me jump from the song right back at me, as clear as if it were yesterday, as if I were the one who spoke these words to her. “I’m really going to try”, “This is the last time”, over, and over. I believed these words when I spoke them. But when hearing this song, I can feel the pain Lewis caused her. I can start to imagine the pain I’ve caused people. It makes this experience real; it makes it harder for me to push it into the back of my mind. Perry wanted to rewrite her lover’s addiction, she wanted to change his course…but he was hell-bent on destroying himself. She clearly realizes that no one can be his savior. These words just bring me right back to the desperation I once felt; wishing someone could save me from myself, when all I was doing was pushing them further and further away.

Not only do we hurt the people that we care about, but we heart ourselves exponentially. When we use, we become the exact things we despised. I became selfish, isolated, dirty, and shameless; I became the epitome of what I swore I never would become. We cross every line we set for ourselves. As Perry puts it, “You’ve become what you despise, a stereotype.” (Perry) Although I chafed when I first heard that, it’s true. I was a stereotypical addict, no matter how hard I tried to fight it.

The alcoholics and addicts that I’ve met are so talented and full of potential; it’s as though we have the world in the palm of our hands, but in our addiction, we throw it away. This song captures that so well. Johnny Lewis was a successful actor, playing a beloved character on the popular series Sons of Anarchy, but the chaos eventually overran his life. In September 2012, he strangled his landlady and died when he fell off of his roof. While the toxicology reports show that he did not have drugs in his system at the time of death, I can only imagine the personal demons he must have been facing. It’s a sad reminder in a very relevant song of what I don’t want to become.

This song is a perfect package in that it brings back the memories of who I was, and where I went. It reminds me of the pain I caused the people I care about very deeply. It shows me who I became so easily. The situations surrounding the people in this song also make me step back and remember that I don’t want to go back there, no matter how hard times get. I can always keep my head above water as long as I’m sober, but no one will stick around to watch me circle the drain should I choose to destroy my life, and theirs, again.


Works Cited

Chaney, Jen. The sad death of Johnny Lewis, ‘Sons of Anarchy’ actor and Katy Perry ex; a ‘Downton Abbey’ prequel? 28 September 2012. 08 March 2013.

Chen, Joyce. Johnny Lewis, Katy Perry’s ex and ‘Sons of Anarchy’ actor did not have drugs in his system when he died: report. 30 November 2012. 08 March 2013.

Perry, Katy. Circle The Drain Lyrics. n.d. http:/ 08 March 2013.



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Written by

A native New Yorker, Bre loves the California scene and writing for Treatment4Addiction. She has been writing content for T4A for five months, and loves to learn new things, form opinions, and send them out to the world. Her interests include dance, singing, acting, talking with friends, being a daughter, and being the best big sister she can to her 16 year old brother. After attending ASU for a few months, she is interested in taking cosmetology classes and exploring her options. She looks forward to learning all she can, and doing something positive with that knowledge and experience.

Filed under: Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, Celebrity News, Recovery, Substance Abuse · Tags: addict, Addiction, alcohol, alcoholic, anxiety, Circle the Drain, death, depression, drugs, Johnny Lewis, Katy Perry, music, Personal Demons, Recovery, relationships, Sons of Anarchy, Teenage Dream is operated by Recovery Brands LLC, a subsidiary of American Addiction Centers, Inc.
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