Former Pretenders lead singer Chrissie Hynde had it all back in the 90s: fame, fortune and everything else the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle afforded. However, she also had a problem with drugs and alcohol. Now the 62-year-old singer is making up for some of her ‘sins of the past’ by speaking out against the ravages of alcohol addiction. There is authority in her voice, as one who has experienced it for herself.
In a scathing interview given in mid-April, Hynde called alcohol the “scandal of our time.” She went on to say some pretty harsh things about smoking, modern pop culture and young celebrities like Miley Cyrus. But in the end, alcohol addiction was the focal point of her fury.
Hynde asserts that alcohol addiction is as bad as being hooked on hard drugs like heroin. In some respects, she maintains, it is even worse. The big problem with alcohol is that it is seen as less of a problem because it is legal and socially acceptable. And therein lies the problem. Far too many alcohol users see no harm in their drug of choice because, as a legal and socially acceptable substance, they believe it must be harmless.
The other thing Hynde pointed out is that alcohol is heavily taxed. That may be one of the reasons why it is allowed to flow so freely in the UK. Government wants to see an end to abuse, but they cannot afford to lose the revenue they derive from alcohol sales. When you combine all of the factors, as Hynde did, it is easy to see why she calls it scandalous.
In fairness, Hynde told Clash Music magazine in 2009 that she felt a bit troubled about criticising drug and alcohol users given her history. However, five years later she has come to the realisation that it is better to speak out than to hide behind her past. As she correctly points out, alcohol kills more people than heroin does.
Alcoholism Is Progressive
The most important thing to understand about alcoholism is that it is a progressive condition. No one wakes up one morning and decides he or she wants to embark on a lifestyle that will eventually lead to alcohol addiction. Simply put, no one wants to be an alcoholic. Nevertheless, alcoholism starts with just one drink.
When a person consumes alcohol, it alters the way his or her brain works. Alcohol in the system stimulates certain neurotransmitters in the brain in such a way as to induce feelings of pleasure. For most of us, those pleasurable feelings are easily controlled. Others are not so fortunate.
For the future alcoholic, those pleasurable feelings might be a way to escape problems, a way to relax in social situations, or even a means of dealing with physical pain caused by injury or illness. Yet every time that person drinks, more alcohol is required to produce the same pleasurable effect. The continuation of this process results in what is known as tolerance. And when tolerance sets in, addiction is right around the corner.
Learning from Others
If there is one lesson Hynde wants you to take away from her comments it is a willingness to learn from her mistakes. She looks at younger performers like Cyrus and sees a lot of trouble ahead because, as she says, “they haven’t lived a life.” The younger performers do not yet understand the realities of drug and alcohol addiction and how prevalent it is in the entertainment industry. She knows they are headed for disaster, but also knows they need to learn from their own mistakes.
You can be different. You can take the words of someone who has been through it and learn from those words. What you are being told is true: no good can come from alcohol abuse and addiction. It only leads to poor health, financial ruin and the destruction of every relationship that is important to you. Moreover, when you finally reach the end of the rope, you will discover it was not really worth it.
Do not be one of those individuals that reach the end of the rope. If you are struggling with alcohol to any extent, please do yourself a favour and seek treatment right away. Do not be part of the “scandal of our time.”