Elton John: I Lost My Humanity To Addiction

By Kelly Burch 11/09/17

The 70-year-old icon recently spoke about what inspired him to find his way to sobriety.

Elton John

Legendary musician Sir Elton John spoke at Harvard University on Monday, sharing his dark battles with addiction and what inspired him to get sober 27 years ago. 

“My passion and commitment to music opened up imaginable doors and took me to new heights in life. But once I hit the pinnacle, happiness became elusive and darkness crept in. I lost my own humanity in an excess of drugs, alcoholism, and eating disorders,” John said, according to MSN Entertainment

The singer was presented with the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award in recognition of his efforts in the fight against HIV and AIDS through the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The singer shared how deeply the diseases had affected him. 

“During my addictions in the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic surfaced, and the government took no notice of it. I lost so many friends to AIDS and I didn't put myself on the line because of the addictions I was going through,” he said. “The drugs turned me into a monster.”

The 70-year-old singer said that meeting Ryan White, who was battling AIDS, helped inspire his sobriety. 

"I had the luck to meet Ryan White and his family. I wanted to help them, but they ended up helping me much more. Ryan was the spark that helped me to recover from my addictions and start the AIDS foundation,” he said. “Within six months I became sober, and clean, and have been for the last 27 years.”

John said that people need to come together to overcome issues like addiction and AIDS. 

"Today, my mission to help other people embrace their own humanity and that of others is the most powerful and positive force in the whole wide world. Through my career and humanitarian work, I've seen how people can be pulled together,” he said. “The human spirit is the most powerful thing in the world, and when it embraces kindness and does good things, wonderful things happen.”

With the world being in a particularly tumultuous state right now, John says it's especially important for people to band together. 

“Nothing is more profound or powerful than recognizing our common humanity. I know how easy it is to despair. We can rise above it and lift people up,” he said. “We can change the world, and embrace our common humanity. This period of darkness we're going through right now is the period right before the light we will all treasure.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.