Red Hot Chilli Peppers Bassist Flea Opens Up About Addiction

In a new essay in Time Magazine, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea opens up about addiction, years of recovery, and opioid abuse.

Flea has been around drug use his entire life. The future rock star started smoking marijuana at age eleven and moved on to harder drugs in his teens and twenties.

He wasn’t the only one doing it, Flea says he lost three of his dearest friends to drug abuse before they turned 26 years old. Though he had close calls as well, the desire to be a good father eventually ensured that he would self-preserve.

In 1993, he finally understood that drugs were destroying his life and he cut them out of his life.


But he has always suffered from anxiety, what we in the business of recovery would call a dual diagnosis. Flea says drugs would fix the tightness in his stomach, the whirring in his head, in a flash.

He talks about the temptation drugs pose when you are down and out. He could mediate, go to therapy, exercise, and work patiently to get past his troubles, but drugs could always solve all of his problems in an instant.

Saying he is grateful for his pain, Flea says that mindset has helped him stay away from drugs. What helped him get through it wasn’t AA, although he believes wholeheartedly in the 12-step program, it was to consciously experience struggles with a burning desire for good health and love. Periods of hardship are inevitable. But through them he has found real success, joy, and strength.

The dangers of drug use, though, are apparent. Trouble with the police for stealing, drug dealers mongering bad drugs and overdoses were all waiting for him. He says he found his refuge with the drug dealer that helped keep you safe and healthy since you were a kid, the doctor.

A few years ago, Flea broke his arm. Major surgery put him back together, with a two-month supply of OxyContin. The bottle said to take four pills each day. And they made him high like the years prior on the streets. Except now, he was getting it from a doctor instead of drug dealer. It didn’t only mitigate his pain, it quelled his emotions.

He only took one a day, but still was not present for his kids, his creative spirit declined, and he became depressed. He stopped taking them a month later, but says he could have easily gotten a refill.

Anybody can get addicted, he says, it doesn’t matter who you are, and it is up to the pharmaceutical companies, the government, and the medical community as a whole, should fix the problem that they’ve allowed to proliferate.