An Indie Superstar's Slow Road to Sobriety

An Indie Superstar's Slow Road to Sobriety

By Mike Doughty 02/06/12

Soul Coughing was one of America's most acclaimed (and drug-addled) indie bands. In a new memoir, The Book of Drugs, its lead singer describes how the 12 Steps saved his life.

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Da Capo Press

(page 3)

I met a guy named Leon, who knew the moment he looked at me that this was my first meeting. He gave me his number and a meeting list, and told me to call him the next day. I went to a diner and sat in the window, amazed to feel hopeful. I found another meeting to go to, late night, far on the West Side.

There was a deranged man in headphones dancing obliviously in the middle of the room; somebody shooed him away. Homeless guys slept in the back. There were two glamorous women, dazzlingly made up, in dresses and heels. Two men spoke: the first talked about how he had spent his life fantasizing about having a farm to grow his own weed and mushrooms, but then, bafflingly to him, had become a crack addict. The second guy had recently been homeless and had worked as a gravedigger before his life went haywire. His story went like this: “I went back to the shed and had a couple of belts. Then I went back to digging the grave. Then I went back to the shed, and had a couple of belts. Then I went back to digging the grave. Then I went back to the shed . . . ”

Back at my apartment, I put the beer in front of my neighbor’s door and went to the roof. I pitched the bottle of Valium; it arced upward, barely missed the streetlight on its way down, and exploded dramatically in the intersection, whereupon it was run over by a taxi.

It was the fifth of May—Cinco de Mayo. The day the Mexicans defeated the French. In the years to follow, I would think of Cinco de Mayo as my day of surrender. The beer industry celebrates the anniversary every year with commercials about boozing up on Mexican beaches.

From The Book of Drugs by Mike Doughty. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Press.