Many fall prey to the tight grasp of drugs. People from all walks of life are victimized by drug addiction, which affects both the user and his family. Stress and significant life changes are often triggers of drug addiction. Celebrities are no different than the rest of us. In the entertainment industry, drug use is prevalent. Cut-throat competition is the norm, and busy days collide into sleepless nights. Among addiction’s many victims is Travis Barker, rock band Blink-182’s drummer. His drug addiction was one of the reasons the band imploded in 2005, announcing an indefinite hiatus that left him playing with other bands in the meantime.
Despite his involvement with several music projects and the show Meet the Barkers which focused on his family, Barker was never far from drugs. For Barker, being busy with music was not enough to get his mind off drugs, not after years of using them recreationally. This is the story of his fall to rock bottom and his subsequent rise to sobriety.
The Fall of Travis Barker
Travis Barker’s road to sobriety is a story of many highs and lows. The literal highs brought about by substance addiction started early for the Blink-182 member and music producer, who had to deal with the death of his mother the day before he started high school. It was his first low point, turning to various substances, predominantly marijuana at the time, to get through the day. Around this time, he was busy with music as well, joining different bands in school. What could have been a healthy outlet of self-expression for the young Barker proved insufficient in keeping him off recreational substance use.
For Travis Barker, two things used to matter most: drugs and music. And they have been coupled together so tightly in his life that one always seemed to go with the other. Even before he started as an official member of Blink-182, he was already smoking pot. As the band went on a worldwide tour, his dependence on substances such as Oxycodone only worsened. It came to a point, Barker said, that some of his security detail would sleep during the day and stay up at night to make sure he was breathing. Looking back at it, Barker called his situation “pathetic.”
The world of music and fame is not a friendly one, considering how demanding it is. Requests come from all sides, and many turn to substance abuse as a way to cope. It is not uncommon for artists to drink excessively and use recreational drugs on their free time. Even Barker’s best friend, Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein, was not an exemption, although he did find the right way and was sober for 11 years–before a fateful accident in 2008 put him at the mercy of painkillers once again.
Barker, who was also in the same private plane crash, survived with over 65% of his body suffering burns. In 2009, Blink-182 reconciled. It was supposed to be a year of celebration. However, DJ AM met his death in the same year, ruled as a drug overdose. Barker was so broken by DJ AM’s death, and was in so much pain from his situation, that he offered $1 million for his friend to end his life.
DJ AM was an advocate for sober living, helping those in need of rehabilitation and even having a show called Gone Too Far, where he stages interventions with the help of the addict’s family. His loss was a blow to the community that turned to the likes of him to encourage themselves to quit drug use.
Barker underwent 27 surgeries, several blood transfusions, and skin grafts. Despite the ordeal, he eventually made a full recovery. However, Barker took DJ AM’s death harshly and turned once again to drugs, this time coupled with medication for his PTSD from the accident. Little did Barker know at the time that his actions were further messing up his body. His doctors informed him of a potentially cancerous situation in his esophagus. Barker was diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, which had acids turning his esophagus into tissue resembling that of his intestines. It could possibly lead to the fatal esophageal adenocarcinoma. Upon his doctors’ advice, he gave up smoking and quit his prescription drugs.
Travis Barker’s Turning Point
For Baker, the turning point was being a father. After being diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus, he turned his life around because he wanted to be healthy for his kids. Unfortunately, Barker and his then-wife Shanna Moakler divorced in 2006, but the marriage has blessed him with two kids, Landon and Alabama, who drive Barker to stay sober. Now, instead of holding a joint in his hand, he turns to physical activities such as running and biking. Staying active has proven beneficial for the music producer, who has released his memoir, “Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums.”
It took guts for Barker to open up about his turmoils, and even more bravado to act. Recognizing that he had a problem, and that the problem could lead to his death sooner than he wanted it, he steeled himself for a complete change. Barker quit using drugs to prove his doctors wrong. According to them, Barker would be using drugs for the rest of his life, and he will never play the drums again. They told Barker that his substance abuse would be a huge part of his life because of his horrific experiences. Doctors told him that he would never run again. And Barker did prove them wrong, much to everyone’s delight.
Recovery is Possible
Considering the many challenges Barker faced throughout his life and career, full recovery seemed impossible at first. But with his conviction and dedication, he was able to do it and turn his life around. And if a life-long drug abuser can do it, so can you. It is never too early or too late to get help. The road to recovery from drug addiction is a tough one, but once you set your course, you will be on your way to recovery before you know it. Other celebrities like Demi Levato and Miley Cyrus have become recovery role models as well.
Barker’s motivation was his family–his children, whom he wanted to see grow and prosper. You may have other reasons to get sober, or you may be doing it for yourself, but whatever it is that drives you, you have to remind yourself of it every day. Some days recovery may seem impossible. This is especially true if you are hit with another low in your life. But it’s how you respond to that low that really makes a difference. Get the help you need now.