By the Way

What we can learn from Matt Roberts’ death

Matt Roberts, guitarist and co-founding member of 3 Doors Down, was found dead on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in a Wisconsin hotel.
Matt Roberts, guitarist and co-founding member of 3 Doors Down, was found dead on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2016, in a Wisconsin hotel. Sun Herald

I never met former 3 Doors Down guitarist Matt Roberts, but I have seen him play with the band a few times before he left in 2012.

I have interviewed the band’s other guitarist, Chris Henderson, a few times, going back as far as 2003. I’m glad that with everything that has gone on with the band that Henderson and Brad Arnold have kept it going and even released a new album earlier this year.

Although I wasn’t living on the Coast during the band’s rise to the top, I have experienced a similar story. I watched some of my grade school friends leave West Point, Mississippi, and move to Los Angeles and form Blind Melon. I know how proud people are of their hometown products and I assume it was the same story when 3 Doors Down got their record deal.

I also know how painful it is when you watch your friends rise to the top and then addiction begins to take its toll.

Entertainers and addiction

I worked for Blind Melon both as a guitar tech and as their chef when they were making “Soup.” I was on tour with Candlebox in October 1995 when the band’s lead singer Kevin Martin came to my hotel room to tell me that my friend and Blind Melon lead singer Shannon Hoon had died in New Orleans from a drug overdose. I’ll never forget that feeling. Although this would be the first time I experienced the agony of losing someone to drugs and alcohol, it would not be the last by a long shot.

And now it looks as if Matt Roberts has also died from complications from addiction. His father told the Sun Herald that Matt suffered from anxiety issues and an addiction to prescription drugs. My heart aches for Roberts’ friends and family. Another life has more than likely been lost to addiction.

The nightmare of addiction

It’s only been a few months since we lost Prince to an overdose from opioids.

I was talking recently with former Three Dog Night singer Chuck Negron about his battles with addiction. Negron wrote the book “Three Dog Nightmare,” which chronicles his battle with heroin addiction. He’s been clean and sober for more than two decades and he still works with recovering addicts and alcoholics. We talked about the untimely death of Prince and drug abuse in music industry in general.

“There’s a lot of doctors that are contributing to these problems by what they are prescribing to people,” he said. “The deals are off the streets now and they are in offices and people have pads so an unsuspecting person could very easily get addicted to pain pills after a major surgery —it’s very, very sad.”

He also said people have to be willing to make the commitment to get clean and sober.

“There’s a lot of money being made and an artist is a commodity because he’s an investment and the record company has put in a lot of their money so they want their money back,” Negron said. “The commitment in recovery is that you let all things go and you work on your recovery and in a high profile business, it’s almost naive to say that because they don’t get it.”

You can read Negron’s blog post on drugs and addiction here.

The war on addicts

The reality is that more than 200,000 people die each year from addiction to drugs and alcohol. To put that into perspective, about 564,000 Americans will die from cancer this year. We can longer afford to turn our heads to epidemic that is drug and alcohol addiction.

For years, our country has been fighting something called “the war on drugs.” And many think that after spending billions and billions of dollars, the war on drugs has been futile.

Perhaps it’s time to start sinking billions of dollars and resources into a war against addiction? Addiction and recovery isn’t going to be a topic in the election cycle because it’s taboo and most drugs are illegal, etc.

Unfortunately, more people that we love are going to continue to die from addiction. But we can be vigilant and compassionate and try to help others when we can.

If you or someone you know is suffering with drug and alcohol addiction, help is available.

Call 1-855-378-4373 for more information.

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