Steven Tyler has battled drug and alcohol addiction for much of his professional career, earning the shared nickname "The Toxic Twins" with Aerosmith partner Joe Perry. The vocalist shared his way of coping with the disease at a recent ceremony for graduates of Maui's Drug Court.
"I'm nervous here because I'm telling you all my truth," Tyler said, Billboard noted. "I am also a drug addict and alcoholic and fighting it every day."
The singer advised graduates to use Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to help fight the battle.
"If you stop going to AA meetings, you're going to wind up using again," he said. "They're all over the island and they're all over the world. I express my joy all because of AA."
The graduating class was made up of 11 people who had criminal charges dropped or probation periods ended early for completing intensive treatment under supervision as opposed to incarceration. The program has graduated 500 people since opening in 2000. An administrator for the court, Dean Ishihara, said that only about 2 percent of graduates re-offend after leaving.
Some graduates praised Tyler for his musical career, but the celebrity made it clear that the ceremony was meant to be about their success.
"Listening to you guys opened up my heart again," he said. "You touched me beyond belief, deeper than any song, deeper than any sunset."
According to a Rolling Stone cover story, after years of destructive drug use, Tyler began living a sober life in 1988 before relapsing in 2004 as a result of foot surgery that had him taking prescription medication. He is coming up on five years sober.
"Addiction's a strange, crazy thing with humans," Tyler said at the ceremony. "We have to wait until we're on our knees, some people with addictions — those of us with passion. They say us drug addicts and alcoholics have this gene in our body. It's like Christopher Columbus. They said the Earth was flat. He said, 'I'm going anyway.' We're risk takers."