Deryck Whibley couldn’t even talk on the phone without having a drink first

You may know Deryck Whibley, 36, as Avril Lavigne’s starter husband. He’s the front man for the band Sum 41, like Avril he’s Canadian, and he battled an alcohol addiction so severe back in 2014 that he almost died. His organs were failing, he woke up in the hospital and doctors told him if he had another drink he would die. Whibley was hospitalized for a month and he took his doctors’ advice to heart. He got sober and from all accounts has been sober for well over two years. In a new interview with People magazine he talks about his sobriety, about dealing with parties, people and events without the crutch of alcohol, and about how good he feels in general since giving it up. It’s a good read and here’s an excerpt:

You guys were basically kids when you first started playing.
Yeah, I mean, I’ve been on the road since I was 17. So we were all pretty bad, but it was just sort of the norm. I think it was a wake-up call for everybody. At this age for all of us, we just care more about different things. Even though there were the health issues that went along with all the partying. … It also just gets really boring after a while. After that many years, you’re looking for something else, and you realize that, really, playing music and being on the road and doing what you love is the most exciting thing that you could do and that you’re clouding it all by adding drugs and alcohol. It already is a high.

Are you back at 100 percent by this point? You had some problems re-learning guitar initially?
Yeah, but it’s been two and a half years now, and I feel better than I’ve ever felt, so I would say I’m more than 100 percent. I feel like I’ve gotten 100 percent back and then some. The only thing that bothers me know is, like, the common cold.

Just being in social situations, being around people…every little thing that you used alcohol as a crutch to get through — for me, pretty much everything — all of the sudden is there, again, but you don’t have that crutch anymore. So it was really frightening. I mean, I remember at one point, thinking, “I don’t even know how to get on the phone and talk to someone without having at least a drink or two already.” And then that was the realization of how bad it had really gotten: “Man, I can’t even make a f—ing phone call without having a drink.”

[From People]

As I mentioned yesterday, I gave up drinking almost six months ago. (I highly recommend the tools at Smart Recovery, they’re free and helped me so much.) I didn’t get to a place like Whibley, but I drank every day and could so relate to having trouble, particularly with social situations, after giving it up. Whibley not only got sober and stayed sober for over two years, he was also able to continue his career as a musician without relapsing (if he did there’s no shame in that I’m just saying) and now he talks about it openly. There’s power in revealing your biggest weakness and there’s power in telling it you are the one calling the shots. All credit to Whibley for coming out on the other side of what could have been deadly alcoholism.

This is Whibley before getting sober:

And this is Whibley after getting sober. He looks like a different person.

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17 Responses to “Deryck Whibley couldn’t even talk on the phone without having a drink first”

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  1. detritus says:

    its crazy Derek started so young, but it also makes sense. I think with booze there’s this illicit bad kid factor that makes it so tempting when you are young. I think the states has the right idea with21 being the legal age, instead of 18/19 in Canada. I’m not sure how to change the rebel status of alcohol though. They shown that kids who participate it risky behaviours are more popular, but then it hurts then in their long term success. I’m so happy he is free of his addiction, I’ve never known an alcoholic who recovered and stayed recovered that long. He’s obviously a very determined guy.

    CB, thank you for sharing pieces of your personal story in your articles, it’s always inspiring to know someone out there has dealt with something similar. It takes away the edge of, ‘I am alone’. This place is so much more than a gossip blog, and means a lot to many of us, and the authors willingness to share is a huge part of that. Congrats on your lifestyle change, I’m so happy it’s working, and thank you for the resource link.

    • Macscore says:

      Wow – this was a very sobering story indeed – in particular the images. Well done Whibley – and ditto what Detritus said – thank you CB for your honesty. We all here wish you continued success.

    • Elisa the I. says:

      I read an interview with the singer of Snow Patrol who said he used alcohol and drugs to prolong the high of being on stage. He said he couldn’t deal with feeling so low after leaving the stage, the cheering crowd etc. I find that an interesting insight.

      and this blog is my happy place, too. 🙂

    • Alice says:

      I’ve been a Sum41 fan for over 10 years and to me it is the best band there is. I had the chance to see them last August in Prague and hands down it was the best show I have ever seen because of Deryck’s performance. Knowing that he was sober intensified the experience because you knew that all the energy, vigour and strive was 100% him and the way the band captured audience was almost unreal. Thank you Celebitchy for sharing your experiences and for showing Deryck here, he is truly an amazing example of how you can stop needing alcohol to survive different situations and because of that he has elevated himself to whole another level. The next day after seeing Sum41, we saw another band and by the end of their show they couldn’t speak coherently anymore and the show ended very flat. The comparison was startling and saddening.

    • Nat says:

      What detritus said!

  2. Patricia says:

    Wow he was really on death’s door. Heartbreaking to see a person in that state, but look at him now! This is a huge inspiration.
    On my mother’s side of the family all four of her brothers and her father (who is passed now) are recovered alcoholics. Only one has had a temporary relapse. I never had to see them in their addiction, they have all been sober for many many years. It can be done!! It requires humility and it seems like he has that. I wish him a lifetime of recovery.

  3. lucy2 says:

    Wow, he was in bad shape for a while there. Glad he’s in recovery and doing well.
    The “getting to do what you love but clouding it with alcohol” comment really caught my eye. I’ve never heard it put that way before but it is very interesting why that happens.

  4. Heather says:

    Wow…that before picture is almost disturbing to see. Glad to see he is doing better, and thanks for sharing your story CB.

  5. Murphy says:

    I absolutely commend anyone who speaks positively on getting sober. You never know how much one sentence could help anyone at any time. It is always helpful to provide hope to others.

  6. Mari says:

    Wow, I’m so happy to see someone turn their life around, before it became too late to be given a second chance. I feel like we always think there will be more time. Time to make changes in our life we know we should, time to mend old wounds, time to get back in touch with friends or family. But, sometimes, time comes for us quicker than we think. It comes for us all eventually. Sorry for the tone of this post, just been thinking about all the people we’ve lost in 2016. 🙁

  7. Aren says:

    When I saw the pics of him at the hospital I thought he wasn’t going to make it. I was never a fan or anything, but it was really hard to see such a young person looking so close to death.
    He looks amazing these days, I’m happy he made it through.

    • tealily says:

      Coming here to write almost exactly the same thing. Those pictures of him in the hospital were so scary and sad. I’m not invested in his music in any way, but I’m truly happy that he’s sober now. Good for him, he looks great!

  8. NeoCleo says:

    CB: your story is similar to mine. After years of drinking most days of the week I finally managed to stop. Unfortunately I still suffer from fairly crippling social awkwardness and my social life has really suffered. But it’s better to be sober and my real friends hung with me through it. Thanks for sharing.

  9. JO says:

    I’m going to my first SMART meeting tonight! So glad to see you mention it. Congrats on your progress.

  10. MC2 says:

    What a great read! I also gave up drinking for good barely over six months ago after deciding to quit for a while & that real struggle opened my eyes that it needed to be for good. It was great for me until it wasn’t & then it really sucked. Drinking for me was like being in a crappy relationship that was really good in the beginning, then just okay & then it got abusive. Gotta dump them & run at that point. He looks amazing now & glad he didn’t die.

    Anyone who drank after Trump was elected, kudos to you & I would have been right there with you. Anyone who did not pick up after Trump was elected- I am running with you as the theme song of Rocky plays. We need to be our best for this and we got this. Not wanting to check out right now- that is some serious determination!

    CB- thanks for sharing your personal story. Comradery & warm feelings!!!

  11. LoveIsBlynd says:

    I’ve been sober 16 years and people can’t get over it, like I’m this anomaly in our community. The socializing is an interesting bit as Deryck admits…sometimes I just feel amazing and realize it’s a fit for me and who I am. Other times a social situation feels abusive even if it’s really just a party- I have to be honest with how I feel and how I spend my time. I remember reading an article about D when he was still a mess and the article didn’t seem hopeful he’d ever change. I’m wide awake politically and have been feeling this sense of doom; this news about his recovery helps me know I”m on the right path. He recovered his good looks and talent- what an inspiration. (Please don’t stop posting political news- the prospective here saves my sanity & these celeb stories give my doom brain a rest)