Boy George: Recovery Really Does Set You Free

By Bryan Le 04/30/18

The music icon, now drug-free for a decade, shared a candid moment with a sober contestant on an episode of The Voice Australia.

Boy George at the 2015 iHeart Radio Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium.
Boy George has been clean for 10 years.

Life has been good for Boy George since he got sober 10 years ago.

Currently a judge on The Voice Australia, he shared some perspective on the show.

“As you know, if you're in recovery, it's amazing to think that you could go this long without being a mess,” he said to Colin Lillie, a contestant on the show. “It's like, you get through the other side and you get a life beyond your wildest dreams, you know, because recovery really does set you free.”

The 56-year-old performer (born George O’Dowd) shared his thoughts on sobriety with Lillie on camera because they both are celebrating 10 years of sobriety this year. As Lillie performed, Boy George said he could hear his pain.

“You have the road in your voice, you know, and that's a beautiful thing to hear,” Boy George remarked.

The singer shared his experience with anxiety and panic attacks, some of which were so intense he said he was sure he was going to die.

“When you're in the public eye, you're going along and then suddenly... you realize you're not so in control of your life as you think you are,” he remembered. “I had a period in the '90s, had these really bad panic attacks, I used to go to the Royal Free Hospital and freak out. There was nothing wrong with me. I thought, ‘I’m dying!’”

However, Boy George was able to get his anxiety under control with some advice and focus.

“Eventually somebody just said to me, ‘You need to learn how to breathe, change your diet, maybe try yoga…’ just calming down,” he recounted. “It wasn't chest pains... just panic. It's not logical. Sometimes there's no symptoms, you're just like, ‘What's wrong with me?’ You just lose it.”

But sobriety hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Boy George.

Last year, he clashed with Mötley Crüe member Vince Neil in an episode of The New Celebrity Apprentice when Neil decided to sip wine while the two were in a studio together.

“I was a little alarmed. I’m a recovering addict. I do not need to be in the room with someone drinking alcohol. It’s just not a good look for me. I’m not happy about it at all,” said Boy George at the time.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter