Marc Maron Talks About Addiction, On-Screen and Off

By May Wilkerson 05/10/16

On his show, Maron addresses relapse as a cautionary tale to others in long-term sobriety who believe they are immune to using again.

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Marc Maron Talks About Addiction, On-Screen and Off
Photo viaShutterstock/S. Bukley

Comedian Marc Maron has never shied away from the subject of addiction, often discussing his drug addiction, alcoholism and long-term recovery, both on stage and on his popular podcast WTF With Marc Maron. Most recently, he delved into the darker side of addiction in his IFC show Maron when (spoiler alert) the main character, based on himself, relapses on prescription painkillers in the third season. 

In Season 4 of the show, which premiered last week, Maron's character checks into rehab, a plot line that reflects the comedian’s own trajectory, decades ago. "I was a lot younger. I was, like, 22. I was clearly out of control," Maron, 52, told People, recalling his early attempts at sobriety. "And my parents were worried. I was worried for my sanity."

At the time, the comedian was living in Los Angeles and using cocaine heavily, which led to “fairly serious psychotic delusions.” At his family’s urging, he returned to New Mexico, where they lived, and spent the summer in rehab in Albuquerque. But it took about 10 years before he finally got sober for good.

"It took some pretty dire circumstances to really get me sober," he recalled. "My career was not really going anywhere. I was in a marriage that was not good. I was not being a good man. I was using cocaine and alcohol and weed most of the week, and I was trying to hide it from my wife. I would go on the road and get into some pretty dangerous situations." One of the last times Maron had used alcohol and drugs was with comedian Mitch Hedberg, who later died of a drug overdose in 2005 at age 37. 

Maron’s first marriage eventually ended, and he became involved with a woman who introduced him to recovery, “and I stayed with it.” The comedian and podcaster, who has now been sober for 16 years, said he decided to include relapse in the plot line of Maron as a cautionary tale to others with long-term sobriety who believe they are immune to using again. "I see guys who have been sober decades go out, and it's a horrible reality," he told People.

In 2012, Maron spoke exclusively with The Fix about his sobriety and recovery. “I have a healthy fear of alcohol and drugs,” he said at the time. “I know what they can do and I find that I need to go to meetings.” Though he credits 12-step for his recovery, Maron said it was important for him to remain flexible in his approach to the AA program. “The program definitely saved my life but I had to make it my own,” he said. “That’s the healthiest way I can do it.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.