Steven Tyler Enters Treatment: What the Aerosmith Frontman Has Said About Addiction and Sobriety

Steven Tyler got sober in 2009 and has said he sticks to a 12-step program

Less than a month before Aerosmith was set to re-launch their Las Vegas residency, the band shared a surprising message with fans: after more than 10 years of sobriety, frontman Steven Tyler had relapsed.

The "Dream On" rockers said in a statement on Tuesday that Tyler, 74, has entered a treatment program to "concentrate on his health and recovery" following a relapse spurred on by foot surgery and its subsequent pain management.

Tyler has long been candid about his sobriety journey. In the past, he's opened up about everything from Aerosmith's hard-partying early days to his unsuccessful rehab stints in the 1980s.

"I don't think there were any bands that even knew what sober was," Tyler told GQ in 2019. "I couldn't do enough. I couldn't get high enough."

The singer got sober in 1988 after his bandmates and management staged an intervention, and he remained clean after 2009, something he said he's "very proud" of.

Steven Tyler arrives at Steven Tyler's Third Annual Grammy Awards Viewing Party to benefit Janie’s Fund presented by Live Nation at Raleigh Studios on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Steven Tyler. Leon Bennett/Getty

Here is everything Tyler has said about his struggles with substance abuse.

On the rock-'n'-roll lifestyle

Tyler first began experimenting with drugs in the mid-1960s, smoking marijuana as a teenager, he told GQ in 2019.

Though he maintained control over his life as Aerosmith broke through in the 1970s, things took a turn by the end of the decade — and without the proper avenues to seek help, Tyler's substance abuse problems worsened.

"Aerosmith made it from '72 to '79 not necessarily stoned, but beautiful… then we all became very f—ed up. There were no such things as rehabs; there were mental institutions," he told Haute Living in 2019.

The rocker didn't discriminate when it came to drugs, telling PEOPLE in 1988 that he took "heroin, coke, Valium, anything that anyone came near with."

"I loved to get high so much, I fell into the well. I got so clouded up I didn't know what this band was all about, didn't realize how great it was," he said.

Tyler added to GQ: "It absolutely works for a while. But then things go wrong. You become addicted, it's something you do all the time, and suddenly it starts influencing your greatness."

"We believed that the road to wisdom was through excess," he continued. "But it got really bad in the '80s… What happens with using is: It works in the beginning, but it doesn't work in the end. It takes you down. There's nothing but jail, insanity, or death."

Steven Tyler attends Steven Tyler's 4th Annual GRAMMY Awards® Viewing Party benefitting Janie's Fund presented by Live Nation at Hollywood Palladium on April 03, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Steven Tyler. Joe Scarnici/Getty

On getting sober in the 1980s

Tyler made several attempts to seek help in '80s, telling Haute Living he "went away" in 1984 and 1986 but "didn't really get it."

It wasn't until his bandmates intervened in 1988 that his treatment stuck.

"There was a moment in '88 where management and the band pulled an intervention on me. They thought, 'Get the lead singer sober, and all our problems would be over,'" Tyler told the outlet.

"So, I got sober, and you know it took me many years to get over the anger of them sending me to rehab while they went on vacation," he continued. "But today because of that moment… I am grateful and owe a thanks to them for my sobriety."

Tyler elaborated on the intervention to GQ, saying he was essentially given an ultimatum, but initially feared his bandmates "were trying to brainwash" him and strip him of his creativity.

"It was an intervention with the band: If I don't go away to rehab, then the s—'s over," he said. "And it was interesting that I was being told by a bunch of guys that were still getting f—d up. But I'm grateful that that happened. 'Cause I would have never seen the light."

Honoree Steven Tyler of music group Aerosmith performs onstage during MusiCares Person of the Year honoring Aerosmith at West Hall at Los Angeles Convention Center on January 24, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Steven Tyler. Kevin Mazur/Getty

On being grateful to his support system

The musician told Entertainment Weekly in 2016 that he credited those closest to him with his life.

"Whenever someone dies, like Prince, I think to myself, 'They died so I could live.' I am just as much an addict as he was—[but] none of his people spoke up," he said. "I say that with hope that the next time this happens to one of our other stars, somebody speaks up. My beautiful girlfriend at the time spoke up for me and I'm alive because she said, "You're going to Betty f—ing Ford!"

Tyler doubled down on his belief that seeking help had saved him in his GQ interview, saying that if he'd continued abusing drugs like he had been, "I'd be dead by now."

On the importance of sobriety

For Tyler, getting sober opened his eyes to new possibilities, both within the band and for himself.

"What makes me an alcoholic is not how much I drank or how often I used, or who I did any of that with," he told Haute Living. "It's what happens to me and who I become when I do, and I don't like that guy."

He added to GQ: "I was just an angry f— when I got high. And holding on to anger is like grabbing on to a hot coal with the intent of throwing it to someone else. You're the one that gets burned."

In finding sobriety, Tyler said he emerged from a fog he hadn't even known he'd been in.

"The confusion goes away. Your friends come back. You can keep a little money in the bank. You can plan things and make them work. You get physically healthy," he told GQ. "Once you start getting high, and you stay high, you're in a different reality. And if you live in that reality long enough, that altered reality becomes your reality. And then when you're sober, you find out that was a false reality."

On maintaining sobriety and the fear of relapsing

Tyler said that while he knew a relapse was "possible" — and admitted to having had some, especially after operations — it wasn't something he worried about, as he felt confident in his support system.

He'd also found new vices, including music, as he told Haute Living, "There is no drug stronger than music."

The rocker also told GQ he continues to take part in the 12-step program, no matter where he is in the world.

"I got a band that's still together, the guys are still alive, everyone's healthy. We play better than we did 50 years ago," he said. "I mean, there was a certain rawness when we played clubs and we were all f—d up. Sure, I get it. But the band is still together and still sought-after."

"People still want us for a million-plus dollars a night," continued Tyler. "And that's what's at risk if I use again. And my kids. My cats. My dogs. My beautiful f—ing house in Maui. My girlfriend. Everything is at risk."

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, please contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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