Steven Tyler Addresses Maui Drug Court Graduates

By McCarton Ackerman 10/21/14

The Aerosmith frontman said he was 'nervous' and 'fighting' addiction every day.

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Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler gave one of his intimate performances last week by speaking to a group of 11 Drug Court graduates in Maui, encouraging them to stay sober and continue forward in their recovery.

Tyler, who now lives in Maui when he’s not on tour, spoke at the 49th Maui/Moloka'i Drug Court program graduation. The program launched in August 2000 and celebrated its 500th graduate at this particular ceremony.

"I'm nervous here because I'm telling you all my truth. I am also a drug addict and alcoholic and fighting it every day,” he told the Drug Court graduates. "If you stop going to AA meetings, you're going to wind up using again," he said. "They're all over the island and they're all over the world. I express my joy all because of AA." Tyler also listened to the graduates’ stories after speaking and said they moved him “beyond belief, deeper than any song, deeper than any sunset."

Tyler, who has notoriously struggled with drug addiction over the last several decades, stayed sober from 1988 until 2004, when he was prescribed pain medication after having foot surgery. After relapsing into painkiller use, he eventually entered rehab again and will be sober for five years this December.

“He was a challenging patient. Very giving, very warm, very affectionate, very loud,” said Dr. Harry Haroutunian of the Betty Ford Clinic, who treated Tyler and is a former patient himself. “Sometimes he had difficulty staying inside the lines and we had to pull him back in. [But] he really dedicated himself to his recovery.”

The rocker was introduced to a Drug Court in California in 2011 and was so impressed with the program that he shot a commercial for them. In addition to periodically speaking at the Drug Court in Maui, Tyler maintains his sobriety by going to meetings wherever he is in the world.

"On tour wherever I am—Istanbul or Beirut or New York City—I just look it up, find out where the closest meeting to the hotel is. I walk in and say, 'I'm home,’" he explained. “It keeps me honest because I know how to lie to myself easily. But I’m getting better.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.