In a new interview with Billboard, the 29-year-old British singer-songwriter revealed that he first decided he needed to seek treatment after accidentally going on a benzodiazepine-based ego trip in front of his bandmates, whom he has known since high school.
“Listen, everyone has to get onboard because I’m the f—ing main deal,” Healy said as he paraphrased what he told his longtime friends over dinner that night, shortly after they had discovered he was smoking heroin again.
“If you want the songs, we’re just going to have to get on with it,” he continued, adding that what he had planned on saying was that he would detox off of the drug once the band began recording their third album in Los Angeles.
After a mortified Healy woke up the next morning, “I realized that was absolutely f—ing bulls—,” he continued. So he went downstairs and told his bandmate George [Daniel], “I should go to rehab.”
Starting in November, Healy spent seven weeks in rehab in Barbados and has been off heroin ever since, although he still smokes marijuana. Staying clean, Healy says, will be “something I struggle with for the rest of my life.” To keep himself on track, the singer volunteers to take weekly drug tests in front of his bandmates.
“I’ve got too many thoughts,” the singer added, as he explained why he thought he was a “good drug addict.”
“It used to stop me being like that,” he continued.
Healy went on to remark that even though he was able to avoid using heroin for weeks at a time, he would eventually relapse while on his own — and although the drug had yet to get in the way of his career or personal life, he always knew how much his addiction could potentially cost him.
“People had started to lose respect for me, but not an irredeemable amount,” the musician remarked.
Although some of the songs on the band’s forthcoming album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, will reference drug use — including track “It’s Not Living If It’s Not with You,” which Healy described as “the big heroin one” — it’s not something Healy wants to romanticize.
“I don’t want to fetishize it, because it’s really dull and it’s really dangerous,” he explained. “The thought of being to a young person what people like [William S.] Burroughs were to me when I was a teenager makes me feel ill. … I still risked it.”
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The musician went on to remark that he’s realized that since getting clean, he realized that the secret to “self-esteem” doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with pursuing things you think will make you happy.
“I thought it would be like, ‘Ooh, a bit of gold, a Rolls-Royce’ — I never had a Rolls-Royce — ‘drugs with a pop star, shag that pop star’ — I didn’t shag any pop stars — all of the trappings of a music video,” he said. “And what you realize is the pursuit of happiness is this Sisyphean thing for most people. Thinking that the goal is to be happy is a bit mad. It’s more about fleeting moments of joy and knowing that life is hard.”
Continuing, Healy remarked: “Self-esteem requires esteemable actions. Telling the truth. I think this focus on truth is what’s in the record.”