Drummer Jim Sonefeld of Hootie and the Blowfish never imagined that he would be a successful musician. But after the release of Cracked Rear View, he and his band mates found themselves traveling the world to support what would become the 16th best-selling album of all time in the United States. They would go on to record four more albums and win numerous awards including two Grammys. But during this time, Sonefeld struggled with drug and alcohol addiction to cope with the emptiness he felt inside. We talked with Sonefeld four years ago and talked about his battle with a drug and alcohol addiction as well as how he decided to turn to God.
“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:3-5
Sonefeld opened up about his struggle with addiction and how it has affected his family and personal life.
“I think addiction for me has always been a subtle foe. I think I always fit in enough where I didn’t party too hard, yet I would never turn down a drink. Rarely was peer pressure a factor. I just didn’t have the filter that most normal people have to say when it’s enough. After some years of that it led to using alcohol, and then drugs medicinally, to number the real pain and the void I had in my heart. Unfortunately for most addicts, they’re unaware that this is what they’re doing. I only learned about my addiction from getting sober. It’s when you get sober that you’re able to start looking back and can say, ‘Whoa, that wasn’t right,’ or ‘I had a trend in x-behavior or the way I dealt with relationships.’ It’s only in cleaning up that you can look back and start earmarking your maladjustments. While I was under the grips of alcohol, I had no clue anything was wrong. At the end, and by the end, in the early 2000s, it hurt a lot and I had a sense in my heart and in my head that something wasn’t right. But that’s not enough to get most addicts to quit…It certainly leaves a lot of carnage. I would say that broken relationships were the norm, unhealthy relationships, most definitely. But the blessing is that at some point, but God’s grace only, I became aware that it was too much, and it was too wrong, and it hurt. And I was able to get to that point and that’s a blessing. All of the crap I had to go through, and the amends that I’ve had to make for my bad behavior, were really what it took to get me to where I am today. I am blessed in that sense.”
“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” 1 John 4:4-5
Sonefeld reflected on what the defining moment was in which he turned to God
“I spent a couple of years in a 12-Step program, and I don’t know at what point, but somewhere along the way I realized that it was God who was working my life and that was what got me sober. Maybe my whole way to where I was two years into sobriety was just God-God doing his wonderful, extraordinary work. It wasn’t me, or even those around me. It was him the whole time. That was part of me believing God. Because I got to the clearing where life finally didn’t hurt so badly, and who was there in the clearing, but go. So, that was a big moment.
Break the addiction. Whether you, a friend or family member struggles with addiction, seek help. Many churches have Celebrate Recovery or 12-Step programs that are faith-based. They have helped people overcome every type of addiction including drug, alcohol, pornography and eating disorders. If there isn’t a program, reach out to a pastor, counselor or trusted friend.
Share your story. If you have overcome an addiction or struggle, let God use you to speak to others. It can be in a one-on-one conversation, small group or to hundreds of people. Pray and ask God how to share it. Listen or watch others who have similar stories and how they explain their past and give glory to God in overcoming their addiction. Don’t believe the lies of the enemy in thinking your story is not powerful or that it won’t help anyone. As we share stories and bring sin into the light, people are able to seek help and break free.
Talk about it. Whether it is in a conversation, small group or outreach at church. Ask people who have overcome addiction to share their testimony. Do a Bible study or video series that will help people have freedom to share their struggles and desire to seek help. Commit to praying daily and holding others accountable in the group as they share their struggles.
To read our entire interview with Hootie and the Blowfish’s Jim Sonefeld, click here.