I recently finished reading Nikki Sixx’s “The Heroin Diaries,” and I cannot stop thinking about it.
The book is a collection of diary entries written by Sixx, the bass player for Mötley Crüe, between 1986-87 at the height of the band’s popularity. The entries, which then are followed by present-day reflections from Sixx and a number of other people involved with the band, paint a picture of a 28-year-old rock star whose life should be perfect—but is an absolute disaster.
Mötley Crüe is known for having been a downright dangerous group of guys. They basically defined and then refined the excessive lifestyle of the 1980s music scene: think sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, then multiply that by untold powers of 10.
When I opened the book, I expected to be regaled with countless tales of debauchery and wacky rock-star hi-jinks. What I found, however, was an extraordinarily painful account of Sixx’s descent into hopeless addiction and his heartbreaking awareness of his powerlessness in the face of heroin, cocaine, and anything else he could get his hands on.
Indeed, this book is not for the faint of heart. It certainly is chock full of stories you probably don’t want your kids to read, and you might not want to read yourself. But Sixx’s writing isn’t meant to glamorize his former lifestyle. On the contrary, in many of his entries, he tells of sitting naked in his closet, needle stuck in his arm, waiting for imagined intruders to invade his home and kill him.
Sixx was able to write in his diary that he knew he was an addict and he knew he needed to stop. He wanted to, sometimes. At other times, he was content to melt into the warm comfort of heroin, despite what he knew the outcome would be. He writes of his depression, the feeling he’s going insane, and the unresolved pain of a broken family.
He’s clean and sober now and is widely considered a savvy player and businessman in the entertainment industry. He’s a father of four who acknowledges his demons and accepts who he is and what addiction means for him. I found my admiration for Nikki grew when I understood the depths from which he has risen over the past 25 years.
The bigger lesson, of course, is that we never know what someone else is going through. Who in 1987 would have guessed that one of the biggest rock stars in the world contemplated suicide every night as he hid in his bedroom? We didn’t see that on MTV, did we?
It’s a reminder to us that everyone is fragile, that everyone is fighting against something. And those who struggle with depression, addiction, and/or eating disorders aren’t weak or somehow at fault. They need compassion, intervention, and loving acceptance to heal.
Photo: Christopher Peterson/Wikimedia Commons