Sometimes dramatic events convince people they need help. For Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer of Green Day, that event was a public meltdown on stage at the September 2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival. Believing the band’s act was cut short, Armstrong exploded into an expletive-filled rant, smashed his guitar, and stormed offstage.
The moment convinced Armstrong he needed help for his substance abuse problems. In a 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, the singer recalls waking up the next morning and asking his wife how bad the previous night was, to which she responded, “It’s bad.” Two days later he was in rehab.
Making the decision to enter long-term rehab centers scares many. You may worry about withdrawal symptoms, your reputation, or living without alcohol or drugs. These are valid fears, but they stand in the way of seeking help. Armstrong’s honesty and willingness to share his story demonstrates it is possible to overcome those fears and seek out the help you need.
In the Rolling Stone interview, Armstrong notes how far he fell before he sought help. He describes blackouts and waking up in strange houses with no idea how he got there. Armstrong abused alcohol and prescription drugs for anxiety and insomnia, a potentially dangerous combination with a serious risk of overdose.
Armstrong’s on-stage outburst and entry into rehab surprised many because he exhibited few indications of substance abuse. He had admitted to drug problems in the past, but, at least in the public eye, there was no evidence he needed help.
Many addicts are in similar situations. You may feel that if you can still function at work or socially you don’t have a substance abuse problem. In reality, the problem is simply building in intensity until it reaches critical mass, at which point, like Armstrong’s outburst, it suddenly explodes. Seeking help before this happens makes treatment easier, and it also helps avoid damage to your career and relationships.
Armstrong’s friends and family proved how important emotional support is during rehab, either from family, friends, or therapists at drug rehab centers. His band cancelled their tour so he could get help while his manager insisted he enter rehab as soon as possible. Perhaps the most poignant part of Armstrong’s story, however, is his wife’s simple, honest response.
“It’s bad.” Yes, it was. But thanks to Armstrong’s courage, it’s getting better. What are your thoughts on Armstrong’s struggle with substance abuse?