Florence Welch, lead singer of Florence and the Machine, has been sober since 2014. In recent years, she’s opened up about her history of addiction and eating disorders.
Welch says she grew up with a sense of terror that could only be quelled by music or self-destruction. “I learned ways to manage that terror—drink, drugs, controlling food,” she said. “It was like a renaissance of childhood, a toddler’s self-destruction let loose in a person with grown-up impulses.”
Welch got sober a few months after her 27th birthday. At her birthday party that year, her mom had begged her friends to make sure she was safe. She was terrified that Welch would join the “27 club”—the colloquial term for musicians and other famous creatives (like Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Jimi Hendrix) who died at that age, often from causes related to drug or alcohol use.
“That day, I would never have believed my 30th birthday would be a sober, calm affair with nice friends and nice food that I actually ate,” Welch said.
It took some time for Welch to integrate sobriety into how she saw herself. At an early age, being a musician and using substances—which were always connected—had become an integral part of her identity. “Partying was, I felt, a defining feature of my personality—good at singing, good at drinking and good at taking drugs,” she said, adding, “…if you think you are good at taking lots of drugs, it usually means you are not good at it and will have to stop eventually, or worse.”
When she was deep in active addiction and self-destructive tendencies, she felt like they fueled her creativity. She has since realized that those are actually barriers; the healthier she feels, the more she can focus on her art.
“The less preoccupied I am with what I look like, or what I did last night, the more energy I have to give to my work,” she said. “I managed to be successful despite my demons, not because of them.” She has called performing sober a “revelation.”
These days, Welch is happy to spend nights at home working or reading instead of drinking or using drugs. She isn’t free from self-destructive tendencies. But when she’s going down that path, she tries practicing total honesty with herself and others. “Self-harm is a shapeshifter, but I’m working on it,” she said. “And the more honest I am, the happier I become. I don’t believe in self-destruction as a means to creativity anymore.”
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help available. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you figure out who you are without substances and build a great life in recovery. To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.