RuPaul opens up about his drug use and sobriety: ‘I used for 30 years’

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RuPaul is having an excellent 2024 so far. Season 16 of Drag Race began in January and has had its trademark drama and celebrity guest appearances. Later that month the show won Best Reality Competition at the Emmys, where Ru also became the most decorated Best Host in the awards’ history with his eighth consecutive win. And just last week he released a memoir, The House of Hidden Meanings. This book is unequivocally RuPaul’s most searingly honest to date. Or at least that’s what the reviewers who were able to look away from the gorgeous cover photo say. Seriously, Ru is out of drag (even sporting facial hair!) in the black-and-white stunner, while staring directly at the camera, and by extension, us. Swoon! RuPaul sat down with Alex Cooper at the Call Her Daddy podcast on Spotify to discuss the memoir, in a conversation that covered his 30 years of drug use:

His first experience with hard drugs came when he was 13 in the form of a pill called a red devil. While RuPaul said he doesn’t remember the effects of that particular drug, he noted, “I wasn’t afraid of drugs.”

RuPaul said that in all the years he was a drug user, he “never shot up.” However, in his 20s, RuPaul “dropped acid every weekend.”

“Every weekend. Four hits of acid every weekend,” he said, before describing the experience of the drug. “It was the proof I had that this world is an illusion. That everything you think you know about solid objects or what people are is a lie. I had that suspicion before I dropped acid, so when I dropped acid, it was like, ‘Yes, this is it exactly!’”

“The people who freak out… those are the people that it never occurred to them that this is an illusion,” he added. “… It lifts the veil of the illusion, the fantasy that we collectively agree to in our lives.”

Looking back on his drug use, RuPaul said, “I used for 30 years. The first 20 were a blast. Had a great time. It was those last 10 that were pure hell.” Even so, RuPaul noted that he thanks “God for the drugs and alcohol, because it saved my life.”

“It gave me a layaway plan, a deferment plan until I was strong enough to deal with what was going on,” he said. “Thankfully, I found a 12-step program that really, really, really helped me so much that I am in love with. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that… The success I have today, I wouldn’t have that if it weren’t for this 12-step program… because it gives you all the processing tools to deal with all of the trauma of what life is.”

[From ET Online]

Wow, RuPaul offers a lot of depth just in that little summary alone. The perspective of being grateful for the drugs is intriguing. It’s certainly not what people usually talk about when discussing sobriety. But the way Ru explains his appreciation for a particular period of time, I actually understand his thinking? What I’m getting from him is that he’s afraid he would’ve shut down, either figuratively or in the worst way imaginable, if he didn’t have something to get him through until he was ready to deal with himself. Of course the huge caveat to that approach is, man was he lucky things worked out the way they did. You could think “this is what I need to get through for right now,” but your body could decide something else. Still, I think RuPaul sharing his full story, completely unvarnished, will do a world of good.

I’m ready to adopt “Everything you think you know about solid objects or what people are is a lie,” as a mantra. Though I haven’t ever dropped acid, I did have a very intense dream along these lines in my twenties that still haunts me. I was sitting in a circle with people from my childhood, in what felt like a meditation retreat. No talking, just sitting. And then kind of slowly yet suddenly, it was like a light was turned on and we realized there weren’t any definitions between us. The end of my arm or leg was just a trick of the eye. Once you had the right vantage point, it became apparent that everything was part of the same matter. We were all one, endless expansion of being, any perceived separations were merely illusions. I was so swept up in the moment, that when I woke up it nearly felt painful to be reconnected with solid, separated objects. The dream left me with the feeling that that field of connection is the place where I/we are supposed to find our way back to. Can I get an amen?

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12 Responses to “RuPaul opens up about his drug use and sobriety: ‘I used for 30 years’”

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  1. Brassy Rebel says:

    Kinda mixed message, no? Matthew Perry would like a word, among others.

  2. Belleh says:

    That dream sounds incredible.

  3. cdnKitty says:

    I think the path to sobriety is a difficult one, but I also know recovering addicts who talk about their ‘Drug solution’ at the time. It wasn’t a problem, it was a solution to what was really hurting them, and processing those hurts once sober and realizing how using might have saved them from other paths is part of the healing and growing afterward. Not relapsing is the hard part and for many, endless work.

    • TurbanMa says:

      Yes, same for me. I self medicated instead of finding the therapies or treatments that would help me navigate my life and world successfully. Many of us are highly sensitive people and a casual surface level life without meaning and connection simply will not sustain our spirits. It eats away and so we turn to substances or other means to numb or forget what we are feeling since we do not know what to do with those feelings.

  4. TurbanMa says:

    Yes! We are all one, one creation. What we see and experience is the play of the matter that makes us up, tiny atoms, all in a play, it’s remarkable.
    I’m so tortured on the levels of incarceration in the US. It’s affecting me and I can’t think of much else right now. I’d like some help finding out which organizations and leaders are fighting the for profit prison systems and how I can help. Maybe celebitchy can put something together, a post about at least the celebrities working to end the system? Xo

  5. Bandit says:

    I’m a big believer in harm reduction because it saves lives. For some people no longer using drugs is sustainable & healthy. For others it’s not and that pressure compounds pre-existing issues.

    So I appreciate RuPaul’s honesty when his discussing his experience with drug use, the benefits of it and then discussing how that shifted so he chose to stop using drugs. Life is often messy. Creating space that acknowledges the complexities and context regarding drug use is so valuable because it helps destigmatize it. Education combined with shifting the culture of shame, judgement and stigma around drug use will save lives.

    Humans have been using drugs since ancient times and we need to have better safety protocols around it. I realise there will be people who disagree with me and insist that the only way forward is no longer using drugs whatsoever. I’m speaking from lived experience. My biases aside though so much research supports that harm reduction, pill testing, education, peer support, non judgemental health professionals etc… saves lives.

    • TurbanMa says:

      I appreciate your comment so much. Speaking for myself I self medicated for decades with marijuana and when it didn’t help me in my life anymore I stopped. But 16 years out it is the only thing that helps pmdd so one week a month it helps me be the mom and wife and daughter and person that I know myself to be and stop the cycle of damaging my relationships and a shame and guilt. Until there is something legal that works I would deeply appreciate it being destigmatized and even legalised. There are legitimate and helpful uses for mind altering substances and the ones from big pharma are not less damaging they’re just legal and making rich people richer.

  6. Arhus says:

    Very cool dream!! That is beautiful. It is helpful to keep things like that in mind. We are all the same atoms. The energy of the universe is all around us and in us.

  7. Spikey says:

    Oregon has legalized psysilobin (mushrooms) only for use in medical facilities, it is tightly regulated. However they have discovered that it can be enormously helpful in treating depression, anxiety, trauma, addiction and PTSD. Right now its a pretty expensive option, health insurance is not covering it. The facilities have licensed therapists that stay with you for the whole “trip”, so the price is understandable. I’ve been told that there are a lot of people that live out of state coming to Oregon & paying for the treatment; people with money. Apparently the VA is also doing research on it and using it for PTSD.

    I think that we need to evolve in our thinking about some medications, such as psysilobin. I would rather take mushrooms from time to time than be on some pharmaceuticals. I think there needs to be a lot more research in the area of “natural” medicines for treatments. Marijuana thankfully has been legal in Oregon for recreational use a number of years and there are “dispensaries” everywhere, you only need to show proof of age & be over 21.

    I’m not advocating that anyone go out and try any drugs, but I do think there needs to be options for people that need it or want to try it. Its a much safer outlet than using/abusing pharmaceuticals. And if it can actually cure depression, wow, who wouldn’t rather do that than be on pills for the rest of your life?

  8. Nathalie says:


  9. J.Ferber says:

    All the love and support for the god/goddess that is our beloved RuPaul.