Last week, newsfeeds were flooded with the announcement that Steven Tyler of Aerosmith was checking himself into rehab after a relapse. This led to Aerosmith canceling the first two months of the band’s new Las Vegas residency. A post on Tyler’s Instagram says that he had foot surgery to prepare for the residency and suffered a relapse while recovering. He voluntarily checked into treatment. I love Aerosmith’s music, and I’ve always seen Steven Tyler as a figure in the recovery world, but I honestly had no real understanding of his past interactions with substances and recovery until news stories brought them back into the spotlight.
I can’t even imagine the parties and drugs that a legendary rockstar would encounter. According to Tyler’s 2011 autobiography, Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?, for years he indulged in marijuana, OxyContin, heroin, methamphetamine, methadone, LSD, and especially cocaine. He estimated that he’d spent $6 million on drugs during his lifetime. To say the least, he lived life large!
“There were no such things as rehabs; there were mental institutions. I went away in ’84 and ’86, and I didn’t really get it. The early ’80s were terrible, and drugs took us down. I was the first one to get treatment,” said Tyler. In 1988, Aerosmith and their management team held an intervention. At the time, Tyler was battling an addiction to heroin among other substances. He recounts, “‘Get the lead singer sober, and all our problems would be over.’ So, I got sober, and you know it took me many years to get over the anger of them sending me to rehab while they went on vacation.”
Tyler made various attempts to get sober between 1980 and 2010. He enrolled himself in a handful of rehabs, attended 12-step meetings, and had a supportive group of friends and family by his side. However, relapse was unfortunately common for him during that period. In recent years Tyler has suffered from chronic pain due to the physical rigors of performing on stage—especially with the theatricality he’s known for. Many of us in recovery understand the vicious circle of real physical pain, pain medications, and addiction.
Tyler has said in the past that what matters is not the number of times a person has relapsed or been to rehabs, but the quality of sobriety they are living today. I hope he has a positive experience in treatment and years of healthy recovery ahead of him.