Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea opens up about battles with drug addiction

"Addiction is a cruel disease - it doesn't care who you are"

Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ bassist Flea has spoken out about his past battles with addiction to warn others of the dangers of prescription drugs.

The bassist wrote a lengthy account for Time Magazine as part of their Opioid Diaries series to document the true gravity of the prescription drugs crisis in the US.

“I’ve been around substance abuse since the day I was born,” said Flea. “All the adults in my life regularly numbed themselves to ease their troubles, and alcohol or drugs were everywhere, always. I started smoking weed when I was eleven, and then proceeded to snort, shoot, pop, smoke, drop and dragon chase my way through my teens and twenties.”


Flea, real name Michael Peter Balzary and now 55, went on to describe how he would take drugs to quell his anxiety. Then, in 1993 at the age of 30 and having seen three of his friends die from drugs abuse (and coming close himself), fatherhood inspired him to completely kick the habit.

However, he revealed that prescribed drugs that he received following an arm injury left him stunned as to their effects.

“A few years ago I broke my arm snowboarding and had to have major surgery,” he said. “My doctor put me back together perfectly, and thanks to him I can still play bass with all my heart. But he also gave me two-month supply of Oxycontin. The bottle said to take four each day. I was high as hell when I took those things. It not only quelled my physical pain, but all my emotions as well. I only took one a day, but I was not present for my kids, my creative spirit went into decline and I became depressed. I stopped taking them after a month, but I could have easily gotten another refill.”

Adding that more needs to be done to monitor and control the prescription of opioids, Flea continued: “Perfectly sane people become addicted to these medications and end up dead. Lawyers, plumbers, philosophers, celebrities — addiction doesn’t care who you are.”


He added:”Addiction is a cruel disease, and the medical community, together with the government, should offer help to all of those who need it.

“Life hurts. The world is scary and it’s easier to take drugs than work through pain, anxiety, injustice and disappointment. But by starting with gratitude for the rough times, and valuing the lessons of our difficulties, we’ve got the opportunity to rise above them and be healthier and happier individuals who live above the strong temptation of addiction.”

Red Hot Chili Peppers live, 2017
Red Hot Chili Peppers live, 2017

For help and advice on overcoming addiction, visit MIND here.

Meanwhile, last year saw Flea speak out to deny rumours that Red Hot Chili Peppers had any plans to retire.


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