Keith Urban Opens Up About Past Drug and Alcohol Addiction: 'I Feel Lucky It Hasn't Defined My Creativity'

In a new interview with The Times, the country musician opened up about substance abuse in his early career and getting sober while building his life with Nicole Kidman

Keith Urban
Keith Urban. Photo: Michael Tran/FilmMagic

Keith Urban is getting candid about his past struggles with addiction.

In an interview with The Times published Monday, the 54-year-old New Zealand-born Australian country musician opened up about his heavy use of alcohol and cocaine as a coping mechanism during the early years of his career and how he got sober while building his relationship with wife Nicole Kidman.

Urban told the publication about his long journey of moving from Australia to Nashville in the early '90s to releasing his 1999 self-titled album, which marked his American breakthrough, and how the stress of trying to earn success in various markets led him to substance use. "My dad was an alcoholic, so I grew up in an alcoholic house and it took me a long time to believe I was wired the same," he said.

"I don't talk a lot about it because I love my audience being able to just come and have a great time. I've nothing against drugs or alcohol. Everyone does what they want to do to have a great time," continued the "One Too Many" singer. "I just realized I'm allergic to it. Someone said, 'You have an allergy? What happens when you drink?' And I said, 'I break out in cuffs.'"

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. Taylor Hill/Getty

The musician went to rehab in 1998, and eight years later he married Kidman — before a subsequent stay at the Betty Ford Center in October 2006. For his Grammy-nominated 2009 album Defying Gravity, Urban wrote and recorded a song called "Thank You" about his gratitude toward the Being the Ricardos actress, 54, for helping him overcome addiction.

"There were nights where I was sure / I wouldn't see the morning sun / And there were days that seemed so dark / I couldn't wait for night to come," he sings on the ballad. "I thank you for my life / And I thank god for grace and mercy / And that you became my wife."

Urban told The Times he eventually realized he needed to learn "a different way to be in the world" without drugs and alcohol. "I'm glad it didn't change anything about my music. I wrote plenty of hit songs while drunk. I wrote plenty sober," said the musician of his sobriety. "I feel lucky it hasn't defined my creativity."

Oscars Couples
Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman. Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Last month, Kidman told E!'s Live from the Red Carpet that Urban traveled to Los Angeles to accompany her at the 2022 Oscars, where she was nominated for her performance in Being the Ricardos, on March 27 — after playing a concert in Las Vegas less than 24 hours beforehand.

"I'm just so happy to be here. I'm so happy to be here with my husband who was playing Vegas last night and flew in and landed at 1:00 a.m.," said the Oscar winner. "Whatever it takes."

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