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These 3 Words Saved Elton John's Life When His Addiction Was at Its Worst

The star's now been sober over 30 years.

Legendary musician Sir Elton John was catapulted to fame in 1970 after releasing his hit single Your Song. And though the next few years were a whirlwind of chart-topping tunes and iconic performances, it wasn't long until the dark side of fame and fortune came to collect. In 1974, John began using drugs, a decision he now says could have killed him at the height of his career. Read on to learn which three words saved the singer when he hit rock bottom, and why he now says he has a "wonderful" life.

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Elton John has now been sober for over 30 years.

Elton John
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

In 2020, John took to Instagram to mark an occasion near and dear to his heart: the anniversary of the day he decided to break free from addiction. "Reflecting on the most magical day having celebrated my 30th Sobriety Birthday," the Tiny Dancer singer wrote, thanking his family and friends, including those from his recovery program. "I'm truly a blessed man," he added.

The star showed off a table full of cards, flowers, and sobriety chips he had received from his support network, along with a cake in the shape of the number 30. "If I hadn't finally taken the big step of asking for help 30 years ago, I'd be dead. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the people who have inspired and supported me along the way," John wrote in the caption.

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He's been open about his history of addiction.

Elton John
Erika Goldring/Getty Images

John has shed light on his struggles with addiction in the 2019 film Rocketman, in an autobiography released that same year, and in candid interviews. While speaking with CBS Sunday Morning in 2019, he recalled the first time he ever took cocaine in 1974, admitting that even though it made him throw up, he went back for more.

"Because I wanted to join in so much and be part of the gang, I went back and asked for another line," he told the outlet. "Isn't that crazy? But that's what being a drug addict is—crazy. I so wish I'd never taken a drug," reflected the larger-than-life performer.

John says these three words saved his life.

Elton John David Furnish
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Sobriety didn't come easily, and given how close the singer nearly came to death, it could have never come at all. In one particularly candid moment, John opened up about some of his darkest moments of addiction. 'There were times when I was having chest pains, or staying up three days at a time," he told Variety in 2019. "I used to have spasms and I would be found on the floor and they'd put me back to bed and a half an hour later I'd be doing the same thing," he said.

The star says hitting rock bottom left him with little hope for recovery. "It nearly destroyed my soul," he shared while speaking with CBS. "My soul was black, like a charred piece of steak, until I said, 'I need help.' And suddenly, a little pilot light in my soul came along going, 'Yes, I'm still here. I'm still here. I'm still here. I can still be rescued.'"

Since getting sober, he now has a "wonderful life."

Elton John and family
Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Those three words, "I need help," set his new life in motion—but the star says every bit of his recovery was hard earned. "I have a wonderful life now, but I had to change it. I had to change my life really drastically—otherwise I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you," he told Variety. "I made the choice and it was the right choice, and I did a lot of hard work. It didn't happen overnight."

Now, the star says he has the tools to cope with the sorts of problems that might have sent him spiraling in the past. "Life is full of pitfalls, even when you're sober. But I can deal with them now because I don't have to run away and hide and I have someone in my life to help me through them," he said, referencing his husband of over 25 years, David Furnish. "I've learned to communicate. What I couldn't do when I was an addict was communicate… except when I was on cocaine," he quipped.

This coming July, John will mark his 32nd year of sobriety and the future is looking bright. "I'm 72 years of age; I feel as if I'm 18," he told CBS. "And I've still got a lot of living to do hopefully with my children. And who knows what I'm gonna be doing? I really don't know. And I don't care. I don't care to know. I just want to be surprised."

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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