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Megadeth Bassist David Ellefson Talks Sobriety

By David Konow 04/08/14

The heavy metal rocker detailed his experiences with drugs and alcohol, his several stints in rehab, and finally reaching his sobriety through his faith in God.

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When you’re dumped by Motley Crue’s manager because your drug habits are too out of control, that's when you know you need help. This is exactly what happened to Megadeth in the eighties.

The metal band, founded by former Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine, has endured many struggles with addiction over the band’s thirty-plus years, and recently their long-time bassist, Dave Ellefson, discussed his sobriety with the students of Fountain Hills High School in Arizona.

Ellefson told his young audience that he started drinking at 15, smoking pot when he was 16, “and just followed that with cocaine and heroin,” both drugs the band has struggled with over the years. “Heroin is an insidious and sneaky drug. And I was completely strung out on it,” Ellefson said.

The bassist said he did three stints in rehab before finally asking God for help. “When I finally hit that bottom, I woke up the next day, and I didn’t do drugs, and I didn’t drink. And now I am 24 years sober. But it is one day at time.” Mustaine also famously turned to Christianity after reportedly going in and out of rehab 17 times. Ellefson is currently studying to be a pastor.

“[Addiction is] kind of a funny thing,” Ellefson told the students. “It likes to get you alone because when you are alone, that addiction will talk to you and try to take you back to it. And addiction, while it can make you feel unique, completely takes away our uniqueness. We’re like any other junkie. Using alcohol and drugs is an equalizer. We just blend in. So the best part of us goes away.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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