Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor Had ‘Awkward Adjustment’ To Sober Life

By Kelly Burch 09/15/17

Reznor says he hit one of his lowest points while touring to promote The Downward Spiral.

Trent Reznor

Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor says he thought alcohol would provide him relief, but it ended up causing more problems than it solved.

But even after putting down the bottle, Reznor still had an “awkward adjustment” to sober life, according to the latest issue of Kerrang magazine

“I had romanticized the idea of what drugs and alcohol’s role in my life was,” Reznor said, according to NME. “I'm not saying it didn’t provide great moments of great escape and relief, and easing of pain, but it wound up creating chaos and destroying things—destroying creativity in my case.”

The adjustment to sobriety was hard initially, but ultimately benefited Reznor’s music. 

“There was an awkward adjustment of learning how to live without that, without those things, those people, those crutches and habits,” Reznor said. “Once I got on stable ground and started to understand how my brain worked without all that, musically at least, I can do more because I can remember what I did. I can think deeper about things.”

Reznor went through one of his lowest points with addiction while he was touring to promote Nine Inch Nails' 1994 album The Downward Spiral.

"Downward Spiral felt like I had an unending bottomless pit of rage and self-loathing inside me and I had to somehow challenge something or I'd explode,” he told The Guardian in 2013. “I thought I could get through by putting everything into my music, standing in front of an audience and screaming emotions at them from my guts...but after a while it didn't sustain itself, and other things took over—drugs and alcohol."

But even after quitting booze, those feelings didn’t entirely go away—and Reznor still allows himself to connect with his ugly side. 

“I’m inspired by how I feel, and I attempt to be as honest as I can be about those feelings,” he said, noting that his last album was one of his darkest. “Not The Actual Events, for example, was I think one of the ugliest records I’ve written in a long time, certainly sober. I’m allowed to go down some dark holes that I realized, in sobriety I hadn’t allowed myself to.”

Even in sobriety, Reznor says he still has to recognize his negative feelings. “I don’t mean I’m using drugs, but I was allowing myself to think deeply about things I’ve felt, and things part of me still feel,” he said.

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