Keith Urban: I Wish I’d Gotten Sober Many Years Earlier Than I Did

By David Konow 03/20/18

"I knew I wasn't at my full potential, and that's what was starting to get to me. I was enslaved... I was living a very, very small life."

Keith Urban

During a Q&A session at Austin's South By Southwest Festival, country superstar Keith Urban spoke out about his past alcohol and drug use and how his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, ultimately helped save him.

According to Rolling Stone, Urban, who is 12 years sober, told the audience at SXSW that he normally doesn’t speak about his past with addiction publicly, but he didn't want any of his fans to feel left out. “It’s something I needed because I’m alcoholically wired. I wish I’d gotten sober many years earlier than I did, but it is what it is.”

Urban continued, “I knew I wasn’t at my full potential, and that’s what was starting to get to me.” He also said he felt “enslaved” by his addiction, and he was “living a very, very small life.”

Urban also explained one of the benefits of his sobriety. "There's probably less fear. I can dare to suck, and it doesn't bother me as much as it would have."

Urban grew up with a father who struggled with alcoholism. He told Rolling Stone that in the '90s, as he was trying to climb the country music ladder and trying to figure out where he fit in in the Nashville scene, “I stepped up my drinking. I started doing more drugs.”

Cocaine and ecstasy were personal favorites: “I loved them,” Urban admitted.

As InStyle reports, Urban had done two rehab stints before getting married to Kidman. Four months after Urban and Kidman married, he finally cleaned up his act for good when she staged an intervention in 2006.

He then went into a three-month inpatient program that saved his life and his marriage. “I caused the implosion of my fresh marriage,” he said. “It survived, but it’s a miracle it did. I was spiritually awoken with her. And for the first time in my life, I could shake off the shackles of addiction.”

As Kidman told The Jess Cagle Interview, “There is absolutely help out there. But you can’t save somebody. They’ve got to save themselves. [That’s] a very big thing for people like me who go, ‘I can take care of you. I can do it.’ At some point, you just have to say, ‘I love you and I’m here when you decide to do the work. If you don’t, then that’s it.’”

Urban added, “I was very, very blessed to have Nic call an intervention on me. I didn’t give a shit about anything except turning a corner in my life and doing whatever it took for that.”

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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.