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Elton John has hit a major milestone in his longtime sobriety journey.
On Monday, the legendary singer, 72, celebrated 29 years sober — sharing a photo to social media of his Alcoholics Anonymous sobriety coin to mark the occasion.
The coin was inscribed with AA’s mottos of “Unity, Service, and Recovery,” as well as one of the organization’s common sayings, “To thine own self be true.”
In the touching post’s caption, John reflected on what the date meant to him.
“Twenty-nine years ago today, I was a broken man,” he wrote. “I finally summoned up the courage to say 3 words that would change my life: ‘I need help.’ “
“Thank you to all the selfless people who have helped me on my journey through sobriety,” John continued. “I am eternally grateful.”
He signed the post, “Elton xo.”
29 years ago today, I was a broken man. I finally summoned up the courage to say 3 words that would change my life: “I need help”. Thank-you to all the selfless people who have helped me on my journey through sobriety. I am eternally grateful.
A post shared by Elton John (@eltonjohn) on Jul 29, 2019 at 1:13am PDT
John’s past struggles with drugs and alcohol have been well documented — most recently in the Taron Egerton-led biopic Rocketman, which dramatized the behind-the-scenes turmoil that led John to walk away from substances like alcohol, marijuana, and his self-described “worst best friend,” cocaine.
“The life I was leading — flying on [his legendary private plane] the Starship, living in beautiful houses, buying things left, right and center — it was not a normal life, not the sort of life I came from anyway,” John told Variety in May. “I lost complete touch with that.”
“There were times I was having chest pains or staying up for three days at a time,” John added. “I used to have spasms and be found on the floor and they’d put me back to bed and half an hour later I’d be doing the same. It’s crazy.”
It was the 1990 death of Ryan White, a young AIDS victim whom John befriended, that helped put his life in perspective. After years of denial, John checked himself into Chicago’s Parkside Lutheran Hospital on July 29, 1990.
Today, John’s real-life happy ending pales in comparison to anything Hollywood could conjure up.
He used his new lease on life to start the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which has raised over $400 million toward fighting the disease. This December also marks the singer’s fifth wedding anniversary with David Furnish, his partner of 25 years — with whom he shares sons Zachary, 8, and Elijah, 6.
“My sobriety has brought me everything that I could possibly wish for,” he reflected in 2004.
“I am a survivor,” he told Variety. “I’ve survived a lot of things. Life is full of pitfalls, even when you’re sober. I can deal with them now because I don’t have to run away and hide.”
The most valuable skill he’s learned from sobriety? Communication.
“What I couldn’t do when I was an addict was communicate, except when I was on cocaine I thought I could but I talked rubbish,” John recalled to Variety. “I have a confrontation problem which I don’t have anymore because I learned if you don’t communicate and you don’t talk about things then you’re never going to find a solution.”