Joe Walsh Shares Addiction Experience: ‘I Thought Alcohol Was a Winner’
Joe Walsh recently recalled how his journey into drink and drug addiction started when he used alcohol as a cure for stage fright.
The Eagles member, who’s been sober for 25 years, was speaking at a gala event held by the Facing Addiction charity, at which he and his wife Marjorie were honored with a humanitarian award. (Walsh helped launch Facing Addition in 2015.)
He recalled that, as a child, he’d dealt with issues including attention deficit disorder and Asperger’s syndrome without being diagnosed. “There was no awareness of what that was,” he told Billboard.
“You were just difficult. I was difficult. I was different that way from the other kids, and because of that I was terrified. I was truly terrified because I felt stupid and alone and that nobody understood. ... In my late teenage years I tried to play guitar in front of some people and I couldn’t do it. I was so scared. I could not do it. I hyperventilated. I started shaking. I started crying.”
Walsh said he later discovered that his fear was allayed after “a couple beers.” That “planted the seed.” “I thought alcohol was a winner," he said. "And later on, when I did an album that didn’t do so good, I thought, well obviously I’m not drinking nearly as much as I need to.” As a result, he said, “my higher power became vodka and cocaine.”
Eventually, he found himself in a place where nobody would work with him. “I burned all the bridges," he noted. "Nobody wanted to work with me. I was angry. ... I turned into this godless, hateful thing.”
At that point in his life he went to Alcoholics Anonymous. “Gradually, they showed me that I’m not a unique individual, one-of-a-kind person," he explained. "I’m just an alcoholic, and for the first time in my life I felt like I was somewhere where I belonged.”