Van Halen Discusses His Addiction Battle

By Valerie Tejeda 04/18/12

Now-sober Eddie Van Halen says his father got him drinking.

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Van Halen in his tortured glory days.
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Eddie Van Halen opens up about alcoholism and getting clean in the May issue of Esquire Magazine; the 57-year-old guitar legend says he partly blames for his father for his alcoholism. “The funny thing is, about the whole alcoholism thing: It wasn't really the partying,” he explains. “It was like—I don't mean to blame my dad, but when I started playing in front of people, I'd get so damn nervous. I asked him, ‘Dad, how do you do it?’ That's when he handed me the cigarette and the drink. And I go, Oh, this is good! It works!" He adds, "For so long, it really did work. And I certainly didn't do it to party. I would do blow and I would drink, and then I would go to my room and write music.” After being in and out of different rehabs for a month at a time, Van Halen hit a wall in 2006, and decided to stop drinking. But instead, to handle his nerves on stage, the guitarist was given the benzodiazepine Klonopin, which he also got hooked on; he became “catatonic” when coming off that drug. "All I wanted to do was stop drinking. But instead I literally could not communicate,” he says. “Yeah, I was gone. I don't know what dimension I went to, but I was not here." In time, Van Halen felt better after doctors gave him amino-acid treatments. After trying various rehabs and programs—including 12-step—without success, Van Halen just finally decided he was done for good. “When they say, ‘You can't say, I will never drink again,’ I can honestly say I will never drink again. It's a whole new world,” he says."It's a sullen truth, but [this year's A Different Kind of Truth] is the first record I've made sober.”

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Entertainment journalist and author Valerie Tejeda spends her days reporting on books, television, and all things pertaining to pop culture, and spends her nights writing novels for teens. Her stories have appeared on a variety of different publications, including but not limited to: VanityFair, MTV, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, She Knows, Latina, The Fix,, Cosmopolitan, and more. You can find Valerie on Linkedin and Twitter.