When Mary J. Blige won her first Grammy in 1995, she was drunk and high on cocaine. She wasn’t present during what should have been an incredible moment in her life.
What people saw—someone who was on the rise and successful in life—masked her deep pain. “People from the outside looking in would think that everything was great,” she said, “but I was in hell. I was spiraling down.”
Hiding pain and keeping secrets is a theme in Blige’s—and many people’s—addictions. Since being in recovery, she has opened up about having been sexually abused at age 5, a secret she didn’t even tell her mom until she was 33. Blige began using substances to cope with that and other traumas she experienced growing up.
“It only happened once, but after that there was so much else in my childhood that happened,” she said. “So many dark moments—which all added up and that’s what sprung on the drug addiction, trying to numb it all with the drugs.”
Blige says that in recovery, she’s had to learn how to cope without substances. She has also made it a point to be open about her struggles—all of them, not just addiction—in songs and interviews.
Regarding her 2017 album Strength of a Woman about fighting for a marriage, which came out around the time of her divorce, she said, “Just because I’m Mary J. Blige and I’m a big superstar, I’m going to start denying [fans] our therapy? Nah. This stuff happens so that we can talk.”
In order to stay sober, Blige keeps structure in her life. She works out at 7:30 am every day, tries to eat healthy and drink a lot of water, and takes midday naps when possible.
Routine is important, for Blige and many others in recovery. But it’s also significant because Blige—who is dedicated to her fans and has been seen as a healer—is now making time to care for herself. She said she is nurturing the child version of herself who was in pain and needed help.
“…Right now it’s about me and little Mary. It’s like that’s my baby, my little girl. She needs my help…and I’m not going to ever let anybody hurt her again. She needs to live; she needs to play. She doesn’t mind her life being used to help someone else…. But I have to take care of her.”
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. 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 learn to cope with stress without using substances. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.