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Guns N' Roses Bassist's Boozing Burst His Pancreas

By Will Godfrey 12/14/11

Duff McKagan went from a gallon of vodka a day to ten bottles of wine, trying to "taper off."

McKagan had an extreme wake-up call.
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Former Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan, a founding band member from 1985-1997, has given an extensive interview about the alcoholism that caused his acute pancreatitis in 1994, aged just 30. When his pancreas burst and he was rushed to hospital, the pain was so intense that morphine just didn't work, he tells the BBC's Sarah Montague. He'd been through a few "brutal" years of alcohol abuse, partly in an attempt to self-medicate for panic attacks—when he was trying to "taper off" his drinking, he went from "a gallon of vodka to...ten bottles of wine a day," he recalls. After he left hospital, rather than going to rehab, he took up mountain biking as a form of "self-flagellation," for "failing my mom and some of my friends." This led to drinking lots of water for the first time in years, eating healthily and long-term sobriety. But McKagan still claims Guns N' Roses needed their hell-raising lifestyle to make their music: "We had to go out on the edge to get the songs we got."

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Will Godfrey is the former editor-in-chief of TheFix. He was also the founding editor-in-chief of, and previously co-founded a magazine for prisoners in London. His work has appeared in Salon, Pacific Standard, AlterNet and The Nation among others. He is currently the Executive Director at FILTER. You can find Will on Linkedin and Twitter.

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