Written by: Cici Bianchini
Let’s talk about something I feel that people should get more recognition for; sobriety. More and more on social media we see tweets or statuses talking about drug overdoses. But rarely do we see the ones who have struggled with their addiction and are on the path to recovery, or are already sober.
This isn’t a piece to judge others and their choices. We at Trillvo do not judge. We accept everyone and care about all who read our stuff. I just truly want to shed light on a positive thing that not many people get recognized for.
What really sparked my interest on writing this topic is from a musician who really isn’t in the EDM scene, but the hip hop scene. But if I’m getting real here, it affects both genre of musics. A few weeks ago, I saw the rapper Modsun perform. He was 30 days sober.
His first time being sober in 15 years.
Modsun told the crowd that he thought he never played in Tampa before, when he actually did but didn’t remember because he drowned himself with whiskey and drugs. Seeing someone perform high to watching them get on stage completely sober and be honest about their journey; was just so amazing. It takes a different kind of strength to pull yourself out of that dark place.
I’ve always been open and honest about my addiction. I was around drugs my early years of life from my Mom and her many boyfriends. Then, I had no idea what they were, but saw how it killed them slowly every day and tore them apart.
When I got a little bit older and was adopted, I swore I would never do drugs. Fast forward to my teenage years when I was introduced to pills. Then harder stuff, til the point I over dosed 3 times in one month. Having mental disorders like depression and anxiety, I was using drugs to numb that; which in reality it was just fueling my addiction and making my depression worse. At 19, I put myself in rehab and never looked back. Eight years later I am sober, but I still battle addiction every day. It is a disease that I won’t let take control over me anymore.
I’ve seen my best friend struggle with her addiction up until the day it took her. In fact, she is the main reason I got sober. She pushed me to go to rehab because she saw that the road I was going down, wasn’t the road for me. I just wish she was here now to see where I’m at and to read this article. She would be so proud of me for standing up for what I believe in.
I reached out to two people in this industry that are on the same path as me. One an up and coming local DJfrom Houston and one who has been in the game for years. Everyday it’s a struggle and journey, but our sobriety is the greatest accomplishment so far.
Let’s start with Kennedy Jones who just recently celebrated 12 years of sobriety!! That’s a huge accomplishment seeing as he gets paid to be the life of the party.
What was your breaking point that made you realize it was time to focus on your sobriety?
“I knew it was time to get sober when my Stepdad had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. I was already fed up with the way things were going on in my life at that point and I knew that if I wasn’t sober while walking through that situation; I wouldn’t have been able to be there for my Mom and sisters and the rest of my family. After losing my biological Father at age 11, I knew how painful this was going to be on my family and I couldn’t see myself continuing to focus more on life in the streets and getting loaded rather than being 100% there for my family. The underlying truth about getting sober beyond the point of wanting to be there for my family was that I felt spiritually and mentally empty. I was at the end of the line. Drugs and alcohol had stopped serving their purpose in my life and I felt alone even when surrounded by people. My ability to connect with others was completely gone. Something I justified doing “for fun” turned into a full time job of getting high/drunk on a daunting schedule. Even if I tried to tell myself “it’s just on weekends,” or “only when I’m doing ______ is when I’m doing ________ (insert drug or alcohol). I think it’s hard for people to admit to themselves they may have a problem and for me, when I finally did admit that I got a freedom that I had never knew before that. Getting sober gave me my life back. I remember feeling so much peer pressure to “keep drinking” or to “keep up” with the people around me and in retrospect, that was mostly in my head. I feel like over the last 12 years working with other people who are trying to get sober, they, like me, have this false reality that everyone around them encourages and even notices their drinking/drugging behavior. I used even that to justify my addiction for the longest time. I told myself “I’ll lose all my friends and I’ll never have any fun if I get sober.” I thought things like “maybe if I only smoke weed and do molly once in a while I’ll be fine.” I tried all of those solutions until I was completely depleted and I knew, the only way was to completely be sober, from everything.”
How was being clean helped you become a better person? A better producer/dj?
“Introspect. It’s something that I feel like we are not a huge fan of in our teens and 20’s. Who wants to examine their emotions, motives for behaviors, decisions, and police themselves on how their actions will affect others? In their teens or in their 20’s, hell, in their life at any time? Especially when you have this false sense of reality that your whole life is supposed to only be “fun” and a big party. Being sober and working a program of recovery trained my brain to have introspect at 19 years old, and at first it was horrifying. Actually taking emotional responsibility for my actions and thoroughly understanding the fact that what I do affects the people around me. I now literally had to look at myself everyday as the true person I was. Without my ego of being the fun and easy going party goer, but just exactly as I am. It taught me to be considerate of others and making decisions based on that rather than just for the sake of self, even if that means less money, or fame, or whatever. It taught me how to find the right answers in life. It also taught me that usually the right thing to do is often the toughest thing to do. That has helped me to stay true to myself and it’s something that can be a blessing and a curse in this industry. It taught me to be accountable and admit when I’ve done wrong. It also taught me how to mind my own business and not take other people’s inventory of their life. I’m in no way perfect at this but it laid the ground rules for living that way. As a musician it has helped me to dive deeper into the reason, the “why” behind my music. Sobriety has taught me how to have perspective and focus on things to be grateful for when I am being jealous or ungrateful. I haven’t done this alone, I owe all my success of sobriety to the people that I have met in the journey of sobriety and to god. There is a strange part of this that I feel at times works against me. So much of the industry at times involved clubbing and partying as a social event but I feel like my personality is a party animal so even without drugs and alcohol, I don’t even notice that I don’t drink and neither do most of my friends or business associates. I think a lot of people that DJ and tour think “I can’t stop drinking that will ruin everything! I won’t be able to hang out with the necessary groups to keep this going!” There was even a time that I got rejected from being included on someone’s tour because they thought it may “make the other artists uncomfortable that I was sober while they were partying.” This is all simply not true. Life and who you are is about what you do over a period of time, not about what you drink, swallow, or put in your nose. Remember that. “
Do you find yourself still overcoming your addiction?
“Alcoholism/Drug Addiction is a disease. That’s the way I see it and many medical professionals that have studied this stuff for decades. My addiction manifests in other ways at times when I am not doing what I should be in my daily program. When that happens, I have to step it up to make sure that I don’t get to that mental prison again that I felt the day I got sober. Overcoming addiction is a daily process. There’s no “graduation day” where you’re able to get back out there and have one drink at the bar to mellow out before going home to your nice house and start the day again, as an alcoholic. Overcoming addiction and the compulsion to drink or get high is the first hurdle but the real work starts after that. It’s not more about overcoming your addiction as it is about being spiritually and mentally sober. What I mean by this is that drug addicts and alcoholics, we have a disease of the mind. The problem is between our ears not in a bottle or in a straw or syringe. This being the fact, every single day you have to fight to be spiritually fit and fulfilled to have real peace and real sobriety. I have random moments where a beer sounds good and I think “uh oh I better do some writing, get to a meeting, and help another alcoholic try to get sober ASAP”. That’s the only way I can maintain my sobriety is to give it away and be of service to someone else.”
Any advice on people who want to get clean?
“My first piece of advice is to be fearless. Be brave. Be courageous. Be READY. If you’re getting sober to get “her/him” back, or for anyone else, it may not work out how you planned. If you are tired of feeling the way you feel, if you’re tired of feeling like you have this giant weight behind you all the time waiting to come unraveled, and you’re wrestling with the question of maybe having a problem with drugs/alcohol/partying, be courageous and look it in the eye by reaching out to someone that’s sober and asking for help. The truth is when I did that I felt like I was at my most powerless state, and instantly when asking for help, all the power to control my decisions came back. In surrender there is great strength. Our pride and ego will keep us high and drunk until we literally die. I’ve seen over my years a great deal of friends and family die from the disease of being “too cool” or “too pretty” or “too famous” or “too rich” to get sober. It’s real life shit. I feel especially fearful for the people that constantly abuse party drugs and think that because it’s in an environment with pretty lights and “good vibes” that it doesn’t have the potential to kill. This misconception is 100% incorrect. Every single time you ingest a drug or drink until you can’t stand up, it’s potentially lethal. People, I hope, will be more aware of that fact in the future. In an age where people focus on total fitness, refuse to eat animals, only eat plant based, don’t drink milk, won’t eat carbs, will refuse immunizations, will push trendy diets on each other etc. but will ingest random ass drugs their handed by someone, who got them from someone, who got them from someone else is mind boggling. No amount of cardio or special diets can keep people immune from the adverse effects of drugs and overuse of alcohol. I love all my beautiful party people and I want y’all to stay that way! Beautiful, free, and ALIVE! I hope everyone reading this can understand that I don’t judge anyone’s lifestyle. It’s not my business. I only can share my experience and the experience of losing countless friends and family members from these “totally safe” substances and the abuse of them. If anyone is struggling my Instagram/Twitter is always open. Also, if you need help you can always google “AA or NA central office phone number.” You can call and find a meeting in your area. The people that helped me get sober and that help me still stay sober do it for fun and for FREE. You don’t pay anything and these people have genuinely WANTED to help me. It is strange having people be so nice expecting nothing in return especially having spent so much time in the midst of the transactional nature that can come with the music industry but they out there! Help is available, all you have to do it ask! I love all of y’all and I hope this can help somebody somewhere. Thank you for the opportunity to speak on the topic! “
Houston local, DRŪ, just recently started the path to being clean and sober. As someone I haven’t met yet personally, I’ve been watching him grow from afar and it’s been amazing. I asked him the same questions as Kennedy because they both gave me very different answers, but are so raw and true that I had to share them.
What was your breaking point that made you realize it was time to focus on your sobriety?
“I truly think my breaking point was having the most vivid dreams about me being nothing, having nothing, no happiness, no real life. It’s something that would happen often when I was abusing hard going out 4-6 nights a week, drinking profusely and then having the come up to be able to drive. It was scary and having those nightmares lead to flashes of said dreams constantly throughout the day or while I was coming down from being drunk or on drugs.”
How has being cleaned helped you become a better person?
“When I went clean it not only helped my mental health but it helped me physically, I wasn’t worn out, constantly dehydrated, I could actually see the bigger picture in what I wanted in life and most importantly it cleared my head of all the old nonsense that was creating the hugest writers block for me.
Do you still find yourself overcoming your addiction?
“Absolutely, that break I feel gave me the biggest perspective on how to not only control any situation but not get caught up so much in feeling the need to have these things every night going out or going to shows and those things being a constant force surrounding me.”
Any advice for anyone who wants to get clean themselves?
“Getting clean not only saved me, it gave me hope, it made the idea of what kind of life I wanted so much clearer. Even if completely staying sober isn’t what you want, short and long breaks from it will absolutely help your mental health, and physically keep your head on right to fight the day to day battles every person and most importantly every artist face.”
To those wanting to get clean, my best advice is to find what works for you. Going to meetings is a great way to start because you’re surrounded by people who are going through the same thing. Find a sponsor, who wants nothing more to help you at any hour of the day. Take a step back from the party scene, pick up a new hobby and learn to love yourself and your body will thank you for it. What worked for Jones, DRŪ, and I may not work for you; but I guarantee all three of us will always be there if you need to talk it out. As Kennedy said, in this day of age, we are so adamant about the food we put in our body’s “because it’s not healthy,” but yet we don’t hesitate to take a drug we aren’t really sure what it is.
Always be safe. Always have fun. And always live your best life.