Choosing sobriety — and having strong support from family and friends, says country music superstar Keith Urban — literally saved his life. The singer has been to drug rehab three times to battle addictions to drugs and alcohol, including cocaine, reflecting a common pattern of recovery and relapse for many people with similar addictions.
Keith Urban’s journey to recovery was shared in detail on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2010, with much of the credit going toward his wife, Australian actress Nicole Kidman. Urban says Kidman and friends set up the “perfect” intervention one night after the couple had been married only a few months and helped set him on the road to sobriety for the long-haul. On the night of the intervention, Urban had abused drugs and alcohol to the extreme, but the addictions didn’t end his marriage.
Instead, Urban says he and Kidman are closer than ever and work on their relationship day by day – the same way Urban pursues his sobriety. He also says learning to love himself has been part of the recovery. At a recent concert, Urban openly admitted to a crowd of 15,000 that it was the love of his wife that saved his life and pulled him out of the depths of addiction.
Urban began his music career at local bars at the age of 25, and it was five years later that his talent really began to get noticed. In the years following the release of his 1991 debut CD, “Keith Urban,” he has earned a Grammy award and the title of Entertainer of the Year from the Country Music Association.
The road to musical success was marked with ups and downs with substance abuse. In 1998, Urban entered rehab for cocaine at Cumberland Heights in Nashville, Tennesee. Then in 2006, just four months after marrying Nicole Kidman in Australia, and before a planned release of his album “Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing,” Urban checked into rehab at Palm Spring’s famous Betty Ford Center.
At the time Urban entered the Betty Ford Center, Kidman was unaware of the severity of his ongoing battle with addictions. She returned promptly from Rome to support him. Urban stayed three months in the addiction treatment program, completing it.
Looking back, Urban says his battle with substance abuse began in the early 1990s when he began to try to launch his musical career in Nashville. Alcohol and drugs, says Urban, were a way to deal with a sense of loneliness and of the music industry’s initial rejection. They were a source of diversion from negative emotions.
Part of Urban’s road to recovery is rooted in his realization of the challenges of ongoing recovery. He said in 2007 that a person can’t get too comfortable with their recovery, such as letting their defenses down, and that he felt he had done that in 2006 when he re-entered treatment for substance abuse.
Urban also credits maintaining a balance between career and family as helping him stay sober, saying that he enjoys a simple, quiet life and doing everyday things. Keith Urban’s story of addiction, recovery and relapse, and then back to recovery, serves as a reminder that the road to sobriety is never easy and can remain a lifelong focus for many recovering from drug addiction.