Sum 41's Deryck Whibley Reflects On Sobriety

By David Konow 07/22/19

The pop punk star opened up about getting sober and how GnR's Duff McKagan inspired his sobriety.

Sum 41's Deryck Whibley

Deryck Whibley, the lead singer of Sum 41, had to get sober in 2014 if he wanted to continue living. Like many artists when they get clean, he’s had adjustments to make, but he’s found that the pros certainly outweigh the cons.

Whibley found himself close to death when his liver and kidneys started collapsing from too many years of alcohol abuse. Being a musician was a dream come true for Whibley, but as he told Forbes, “Once all the partying and everything I had done caught up to me and I ended up in the hospital and I felt like I was about to lose it all, getting sober sort of re-solidified more than ever [that] all I care about is playing music. Once I felt like it was gonna be gone forever, I started respecting the fact I play music and it’s taking care of myself to play music.”

It wasn’t just the hectic musician lifestyle that drove his addiction, Whibley was also dealing with a bad back.

“I was self-medicating that pain with alcohol," he explains. "So I started drinking a little bit more because of that on top of the partying. But then I would party that night too. So I was doubling it all up and that’s what got me into trouble.”

Duff Inspires

Whibley has looked up to Duff McKagan from Guns N' Roses, who also got sober after many years of heavy drinking and a near-death experience where his pancreas exploded.

“I always knew his story and obviously loved Guns N' Roses when I was growing up,” Whibley says. “I knew he had gone through all that and gotten healthy and was doing really well. When I knew I was getting bad I would say to myself, ‘I’m gonna do the Duff thing. I’m gonna get healthy. I know I’m gonna get out of this.’”

Whibley reached out to McKagan after he got out of the hospital. “I didn’t know him at the time. I’d run into him a few times, but not enough to know him. He gave me some advice and he was great.”

Passion Returns

Now that Whibley is sober, he feels “the passion for music is probably stronger now and also passion for the work that goes into it… I thought touring was so fun when we were all partying. It was just this rolling party wherever we went. And I thought, ‘Would it be that fun sober?’ And doing it now it’s way more fun.”

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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.