Former Pantera Frontman Phil Anselmo: I'm Nine Months Clean

By David Konow 09/19/18

"I haven’t had a drink in almost three years. Man, I’m feeling better and better.”

Phil Anselmo

Lead singer Phil Anselmo of Pantera has had heavy bouts with heroin, painkillers and alcohol addiction. Now, the vocalist says he’s nine months sober and 45 pounds lighter.

Anselmo is currently fronting a new band, Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals, and on a recent podcast he spoke about the back injury that lead him to painkiller abuse.

“I ruptured a lower disc at about the age of 24, and just up to this past January, I’ve been at war with it,” Anselmo recalls. “So chronic pain meets every medication that you can get from a doctor or not, I’ve done ‘em all. So that has been a battle, man. And if you mix the chronic pain and the hydrocodone, which is another catalyst for another drug, which could be Xanax—it commonly goes hand in hand—that is a toxic brew in the brain, man. So it’s a war. And I’ve gotta say now—I am nine months clean and I haven’t had a drink in almost three years. Man, I’m feeling better and better.”

Anselmo turned 50 this June. “My 50th was better than my 30th and 40th by light years, man. Just peace of mind and knowing I wasn’t gonna wake up the next day with a hangover—that’s a good feeling, man, every day.”

Anselmo told Decibel that he hasn’t had a drink since Mardi Gras in 2016.

"My body feels like I woke up in a car wreck every day of my life anyway, so to put a hangover on top of it?" he said to The Daily Times. "And the only thing that’s going to beat it is more booze? I’m defeated. All hail the hangover—the thing that knocked Phil Anselmo on his ass!”

Anselmo also told Decibel that 2016 was the first year he ever performed sober, and he claimed he doesn’t miss alcohol. “I don’t crave it… Now will I have a sip at some point in the future? I honestly don’t know. It’s a day-by-day thing. But I feel much better as far as being onstage and having that clarity.”

In speaking about his past drug addiction to Loudwire, Anselmo said to fans, “First and foremost, don’t use hard drugs. There’s ways around things. Go to a doctor, get checked out. Don’t just take your friend’s word for it: ‘Hey, this pill’s gonna fix everything. This drug’s gonna fix everything.’ It’s not true. It’s fake. Don’t use hard drugs. And I learned the hard way, but here I am.”

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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.