3 Doors Down Guitarist Discusses How He Used Alcohol To Cope With Fame

By Kelly Burch 01/25/18

“You can’t hammer your body like that... You start to fall apart and that’s when things either change or you suffer the consequences.”

3 Doors Down performs at Thunder Valley Casino Resort

When 3 Doors Down blasted on to the musical scene in 2000 and became a household name soon after, guitarist Chris Henderson wasn’t prepared for the band’s near-overnight fame. He began experiencing fear and anxiety about playing for larger crowds in high-profile venues, and turned to alcohol to help him get through shows. 

“I really started pounding alcohol to get onstage,” Henderson told the Daily Breeze. “I mean we went from playing for 20 people to 20,000 and not knowing if we were as good as the other bands we were playing with.”

After years of heavy drinking, alcoholism began to affect his career and his body. “You can’t hammer your body like that,” he said. “Your body just can’t do that forever and eventually things start to happen to you. You start to fall apart and that’s when things either change or you suffer the consequences.”

Now, Henderson has been sober for eight years, and rocks the stage without the need for any mind-altering substances. “It was either get clean or die, so I got clean,” he said. 

Henderson isn’t the only member of 3 Doors Down who has struggled with substance abuse. 

“I think except for the new guys, pretty much everybody in our band has dealt with something,” lead singer Brad Arnold said in 2016. “I’ll tell you that I’ve had a problem with drinking for a long time.”

Arnold said that he has noticed more and more rockers opting to get sober. 

“I think I finally got to a point in my life where I watched alcohol and I watched drugs affect enough people negatively, that I am 100% supportive of anything I can do to keep anybody sober,” said Arnold, who was two months sober at the time. “I’m still new to sobriety but I’m a huge supporter. I feel better than I’ve felt since I was a little kid. My biggest regret is not doing it sooner. I believe anybody can come to it in their own time, but it was definitely my time, brother!”

Another former band member, bassist Todd Harrell, was sentenced in 2015 for a crash that killed another driver. Harrell had been speeding with prescription pills in his system when he struck another vehicle, whose driver later died in the hospital. While he was awaiting trial, Harrell was again arrested for driving under the influence. 

After serving a year in jail, Harrell was released and now speaks to school groups about the consequences of driving while intoxicated. 

"I have nightmares about it," he told one group. "It took who I was and just turned me upside down. Paul died, and he didn't have to for a decision that I made."

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.