Understanding Addiction And Relapsing: How James Hetfield Will Overcome His Latest Battle

A lot of us were shocked and taken back by the news over the weekend of one of the year’s (and maybe even the past decade’s) biggest heavy tours hitting Australia being postponed. Metallica released a statement indicating the Worldwired Tour was to be postponed (or cancelled if refunds are being dished out!?) due to the fact frontman James Hetfield was re-entering rehab to begin his recovery process after relapsing, an issue many long-term fans knew he had, but thought he was well and truly out of the woods for.

For years he seemed to have it all together, but unfortunately, like the rest of us, he’s only human and these situations happen, sadly to all of us. The best place for him right now is back in rehab so he can get the help he needs to recover, because we all know what could potentially happen if he kept going without the help he needed to get clean… and I don’t even want to say those words out loud so use your imagination for a second.

If you or someone you know needs help with their own addiction issues, please get in touch with Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Druginfo on 1300 85 85 84

Most of us understood, which was great to see. Unfortunately, there are still some self-entitled people out there who think the band/world owes them the satisfaction of playing regardless of what’s going on in their personal lives, so I wanted to talk about addiction in this piece so readers can get an idea of what might be going on inside James Hetfield‘s head, and hopefully become a bit more aware of the situation at hand and the severity of why they had to postpone/cancel such a huge event.

Late last year we ran a competition to find a potential new intern who we could take to UNIFY Gathering 2019 to conduct interviews and see what life was like for media backstage (spoiler: it’s not that glamorous haha) but the winner was Adam Rice, a young, vibrant and keen go-getter who has since worked his arse off with Wall of Sound to make it in the music journalism game, having no experience prior. He has been an absolute legend to work alongside and help mentor to get him to where he is now and I am so stoked for his future in the industry… But something not a lot of people know, is a couple of years ago, he was deep in his own battle with drug addiction. He was a completely different person to who he is now (almost unrecognisable to an extent), but he has come out the other side and proved that you can get your life back on track, regardless of the struggles you face in the recovery period and potential relapses that may arise…

I sat down with Adam to chat about his addiction struggles, his unfortunate relapse and his journey to living a better and healthier life now; also to pick his brain about what Hetty may be going through so we can get a better understanding of the situation he is in…

Hey Adam, thanks for taking the time out to chat with me. If you can, may you tell us about your addiction from back in the day? 

Sure, as a teenager I started using drugs for a bit of innocent fun. I was quick to discover that drugs provided me with an escape from reality in a way that nothing else could provide. From there it quickly turned into a daily habit which I couldn’t kick on my own, the choice to use drugs was long gone, and it seemed as if I couldn’t stop despite how much I wanted to. As the consequences of my addiction became more and more severe with things such as homelessness and suicidal ideation, it became apparent to me that I have to change my ways or eventually die a lonely death.

If you or anyone you know needs help with their own mental well-being call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or find your closest Suicide Prevention/Crisis Support Organisation on Google…

How difficult was it to seek out help and kick it?

It was extremely difficult to seek out help. There seems to be a negative stigma aimed towards addicts which keeps them in the dark, which is such a shame because those people’s lives are ultimately at risk. Going to rehab isn’t the easiest thing to do by any means; there is intense therapy in which you confront everything you have been trying to run away from. Then to integrate back into society and live a ‘normal’ life seems to be another challenge all on its own which takes a considerable amount of time.

Post-Rehab, how hard was it to stay on the straight and narrow and what did you have to do to make sure you didn’t fall back into old habits again?

Leaving rehab is an extremely challenging experience and to put some perspective into this, I was in rehab twenty-two months ago, and with the thirty or so people I was in there with I am the only one who has stayed drug and alcohol-free since then, which isn’t uncommon by any means.

It was vital for me to leave behind all old, toxic relationships I had made while using drugs and to form new healthy friendships that have a positive influence on me. There are addiction recovery support groups which I would attend and draw strength from those who had walked this path before me. It’s a process that takes a lot of time and cannot be rushed which is why, as fans of James Hetfield and his music, it is essential that we give him time to overcome his demons and that we show love and support throughout the process.

James seemed to have his life in order for so many years, but as it turns out, what we see is different to what’s really going on behind the scenes. Why do you think, from your experiences, James fell back into that state?

It is easy for an addict in recovery to become complacent towards their recovery. Statistically, most recovering addicts will relapse before achieving long term sobriety, so we mustn’t criticise James Hetfield for using drugs again (if it is a drug/alcohol addiction), but rather we applaud him for doing what he needs to do to get his life back on track.

The biggest thing to take from this is there’s always a way out, look at where you are now and what you’ve come from. How was that fight to get your sobriety back and how long did it take?

Thank you! Addiction is cunning, and it plays on your fears. My last relapse lasted thirteen and a half months, for roughly nine months of that time, I felt like I was struggling to survive and was fighting for a better life.

I have no idea how long James Hetfield has been relapsing for, but I applaud him for doing what is necessary and seeking help.

If anyone is struggling with the news or going through something similar themselves, what advice would you pass on for them to get control of their life again?

I want to make it known that a better life is on offer if you want it. It is definitely not the easiest thing to achieve but is 100% worthwhile. Asking for help is a sign of strength and maturity, not weakness.

Couldn’t agree more, thank you Adam for sharing your story and giving us an insight into the world of addiction.

The thing to take from all of this is that there is ALWAYS hope. Something to help you push through the drama and know that on the other side, with the help he receives, James can kick it and come out fighting fit again. When he’s ready to hit the road again,  I have no doubt in my mind we’ll be seeing them touring across the country, it’s just a matter of when he gets clean. It should also be pointed out that Metallica have been on the road pretty extensively since the release of Hardwired… to Self-Destruct back in 2016. That’s a long time to be away from his family and I get that this is the life he chose in the band, but at the end of the day, he’s still human like the rest of us and we need to understand that.

I didn’t know whether to point this out or not, but the tour postponement news came on the 33rd anniversary of the passing of Cliff Burton. I don’t think the two are connected in any way as I would assume Metallica‘s team have been working busily behind the scenes to work out a deal/strategy plan with the tour to salvage it, but unfortunately couldn’t find a compromise. I don’t think a decision like this would have happened overnight either, but you just don’t know what was going on for this to happen.

Right now though, all we can do is hope Hetty gets the help he needs/deserves, his family and brothers in Metallica are looked after during that time too and they all can get back on the horse when the time is right and make those plans to get back here. No rush either, when they’re all ready to re-enter the world again is up to them!

Words by Browny @brownypaul and Adam Rice @adamrice1994

Once again, if you or someone you know needs help with addiction issues, get in touch with Lifeline on 13 11 14 or via the website here and follow their steps for what you can do to get the ball rolling to kick your addiction:

It is difficult to accept you have a problem and to ask for help. Be honest with yourself and others and get the help and support you need.

1. Recognise when your substance use has become a problem– realising and accepting that you are abusing or addicted to substances is the first step to finding help.

2. Get support – getting through this on your own can be difficult. Talk to friends, family, your doctor, other health professionals or a telephone helpline about your substance use.

3. Investigate options for help– manage and treat substance misuse and addiction through counselling, medication, rehabilitation centres, self-help programs or support networks. You might need to try a number of options before you find what works for you – it’s important to keep trying.

4. Find alternative coping strategies – if you are using substances to cope with life or escape personal problems, find other ways to manage the situation and deal with life’s stress and pressures. By dealing with other problems in your life you can make it easier to recover and not relapse.

5. Deal with setbacks and keep going – Recovery can be a long and difficult road. Expect some setbacks and don’t focus on failures, focus on your plan and understand your triggers and how to best respond to them in future.

Regarding refunds for the WorldWired Tour:

All tickets purchased to the shows in Australia and New Zealand, including Enhanced Experiences and Black Tickets, will be fully refunded. More details on how to obtain your refund are below.

AUS: https://www.livenation.com.au/artist/metallica-tickets
NZ: https://www.livenation.co.nz/artist/metallica-tickets
Enhanced Experience & Black Tickets:

Chip in a buck or two for the WoS crew!

Want to help Wall of Sound grow and deliver more killer content? Support us by chipping in as little as a dollar to help!


About Paul 'Browny' Brown (3539 Articles)
Dad, Wall of Sound Boss Man/Editorial Manager, Moshpit Enthusiast & Professional Beard Grower!

4 Comments on Understanding Addiction And Relapsing: How James Hetfield Will Overcome His Latest Battle

  1. Let’s all keep up the great work 💕

  2. Tracy Van Heer // September 30, 2019 at 1:57 pm //

    That’s my beautiful Son, Adam! I love him for the difference he makes in his live and our lives everyday and is bravery to talk about it. You are very lucky Wall of sound to have him!

    • Adam is an absolute inspiration and I am stoked he is on our team every day. You’ve done well with him Tracy, that’s a testament to you too.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. That Metallica XX Countdown Has Been Revealed… – Wall Of Sound
  2. James Hetfield Offers Fans An Update On His Recovery – Wall Of Sound

Comments are closed.