For those fortunate enough to become successful in the music business, the taste of fame is very sweet. With money, adulation and worldwide recognition, those who become stars are able to live out their innermost fantasies. Despite the upside of fame, there are many who turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the pressure of fame and ultimately pay with their lives. Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker is one of the fortunate ones.
Travis Barker’s Descent Into Addiction
Born in 1975 in Fontana, California, Travis Barker was consumed by music from an early age. A drummer since age five, he also played trumpet and was involved in the school choir. A casual drug user since his childhood, Barker’s drug intake intensified after his mother’s death from cancer the day before he entered high school.
Even though he was a regular marijuana user during his high school years, his interest in music intensified during this period. While he enjoyed in both the jazz ensemble and marching band, his true love was punk and hip-hop. After playing in a number of local bands after graduation, he eventually played drums for local ska-punk band the Aquabats. The band eventually toured nationwide opening for Blink-182–a band he would eventually join in early 1998.
Joining the band as a replacement for a summer tour, Barker became a full-fledged member that summer and recorded the band’s breakthrough album Enema of the State. Upon its release in early 1999, Blink-182 became worldwide superstars. With their success and relentless tour schedule, Barker became increasingly reliant on prescription pain medications.
Reaching Rock Bottom
With his drug dependence spiraling out of control, Travis Barker hit rock bottom during a tour of Australia in 2004. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, he said:
“I was so addicted to Oxycodone, and I had a security that would actually sleep during the day and then stay up at night to make sure I was breathing. That was pretty pathetic. My bones were so brittle from so much painkiller use,
When the band went on hiatus in 2005, the drummer kept himself busy with the variety of musical projects, a clothing line and a reality show Meet the Barkers. Even though he kept busy, his addiction to prescription painkillers, alcohol and marijuana continued to intensify. In 2008, Barker experienced a second bottom when he was involved in a tragic plane crash which left him with second and third-degree burns over 65 percent of his body.
The pop-punk legend spent months in recovery and became dependent on morphine after numerous surgeries and skin grafts. The pain that he endured was tremendous, and he reached a point where he offered $1 million to anyone that would kill him to end his pain. However, in the midst of this tragedy he found the motivation to recover.
The Road to Recovery
The road to recovery for Travis Barker began in 2009. His best friend DJ AM, who also survived the plane crash, died of an apparent drug overdose. His death caused the Blink-182 drummer to experience severe PTSD, and at his lowest point, he contemplated suicide. It was during this lowest period that he found the strength to begin his recovery journey–his children.
In his memoir Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums, he talked about how his children Landon and Alabama pulled him out of his downward spiral:
“The moment I had kids, my life changed. I wanted to be sober for them. I wanted to be alive and healthy for them.”
The tragedy of the plane crash and losing DJ AM also helped him to see what was truly important in his life. He has stated that he fully realizes that he looked death in the face and that every day he is fortunate to have another chance to do positive and meaningful things in his life.
In addition to the success of his memoir, Barker has recorded an album and is currently on tour with a reformed Blink-182. On top of the world, the drummer has plenty to be thankful for:
“I have the best support system. I have the most amazing kids. I’m not on any medications. I haven’t seen a post-traumatic doctor in six years. I get so much love and happiness out of playing music and playing the drums and my kids. There’s nothing better. I couldn’t ask for more.”
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