ALICE COOPER Guitarist NITA STRAUSS: How I Finally Got Sober Three Years AgoDecember 2, 2018
In a recent interview with "Chasing Glory With Lilian Garcia", ALICE COOPER guitarist Nita Strauss recalled how she got finally sober in September 2015 with the help of her longtime boyfriend and manager Josh Villalta. She said (hear audio below): "[Josh and I] were in New Orleans, and I had already promised to stop drinking a few times and never gotten [completely sober for a long period]… I had not drank for, I think, like, three or four weeks from the last fight that we had had where I said, 'I'm not drinking anymore.' And we were in New Orleans, and it was my first time actually being in New Orleans hanging out and doing stuff. And he said, 'Hey, we're gonna go out to Bourbon Street with my friends tonight.' And Josh has always [been] — throughout the entirety of my sobriety; from the very early stages until today — he's like a tough-love type. He's, like, 'Look, you're on this path, and I support you, but I'm not changing the way I do things at all. So I'm gonna go to the bar. If you wanna come, you can come; if you wanna stay home by yourself, you can stay home by yourself.' And I'm kind of glad, in retrospect, that he did that, because it threw me into the fire and showed me, like, 'Hey, you can be here and not drink.' He has continued to drink throughout [this entire period], but he didn't want me to drink, because when I would drink, I would start fights and I would get emotional and I would overreact to stupid things, like you do when you drink — it's part of drinking; it heightens all your emotions and everything. But I said, 'Hey, we're in New Orleans. I'm gonna drink with you and your friends.' And we went out to Bourbon Street and, of course, ended up getting in a fight. And by the end of the night, we just separated from each other. He walked off, and I walked off, and there we were in another city. He's from there, but I had never been there. I found my way back to the hotel, and then he came in at five o'clock in the morning and just said, 'Look, I don't want you in my life anymore if it's gonna be like this.' We love each other — we have always loved each other — but he said, 'If this is how it's gonna be, you have to choose, and you have to choose once and for all.' And this is something that had been going on with my parents, with the band, with everybody around me for a long time. And he said, 'Look, if this is the path that you wanna go on, feel free, but I can't support you on this, and I can't be with you if this is how you're gonna be.' And I was, like, 'Okay. That's fine. If that's what it is.'"
She continued: "Nothing is more important to me than love. And who knows if he really would have left me on that day and left me in New Orleans or not, but I wasn't willing to take that risk. It took somebody really slamming the door and saying, 'This is a final ultimatum. You do it or you don't do it, and that's it.' And once I stopped drinking, my parents called him and thanked him. The guys in the band, everyone noticed and they were, like, 'You look great.' And all of a sudden, I was sleeping through the night; I'm not in these fits of rage all the time and freaking out about stupid stuff. I just feel so clear-headed. And the biggest mental takeaway was that not everything is that big of a deal."
Nita said that she has never participated in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to help her stay sober. "I don't go to meetings," she said. "I've actually never been to one — which I would love to, because I think it's important to have a supportive community around you whatever you do. But when I first got sober, I was on the road — I was on tour with ALICE COOPER and MÖTLEY CRÜE — and I felt so shy, even to talk to people that I know, that I'm close with, much less go to a meeting with a bunch of strangers in some random city that I've never been to. I never felt comfortable enough to share my experience with a bunch of people I didn't know. Now I think I could, but now it's been a little over three years, so I feel pretty solid in it."
She continued: "The thing that drove me, and the thing that still drives me today to stay sober is all the blessings that have come into my life since this happened. Not only was it I lost weight and I looked better and I stopped fighting with my boyfriend, but I felt like God told me, 'Now you're ready to accept these blessings that have come into your life.' And if I started drinking now and kind of throwing that back in Josh's face and everyone's who believing in me, and all the supporters over the years on social media that have said, 'You getting me sober gave me the courage to get sober,' or, 'You doing this shows me that I can do it. If you can do it with your schedule and your craziness, then anybody can do it.' I feel like I would be throwing it all back in everybody's face, and I can't do that. I can't do it at this point… And I had two great people around that I could ask, which are Alice and Nikki Sixx… Alice is sober over 30 years and I think Nikki at least 10, if not 15 or 20. And Nikki Sixx was as bad off as anybody could possibly be, so to have both of those people there to sort of lean on and say, 'Hey, you've been through this. What did you do, and what can I do?' was something that most people don't get a chance to ask — to ask their heroes who've been through the same thing. Three of my heroes that have gotten clean and sober that I got to ask for advice were Alice Cooper, Nikki Sixx and Zakk Wylde. Three legendary rock stars that I've had the opportunity to chat with and say, 'Look, you've done this. What can I expect? What can I do? How can I make sure I stay on this path?' And each one had different advice and each one was helpful in their own way."
Nita's debut solo album, "Controlled Chaos", was released on November 16 via Sumerian Records.
Strauss kicked off "The Guitar Collective" U.S. tour with renowned soloist Angel Vivaldi on November 19 in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The trek is visiting several major cities, ending in Asbury Park, New Jersey on December 21. Vivaldi and Strauss are co-headlining each date of the tour with support from special guest Jacky Vincent (ex-FALLING IN REVERSE). "The Guitar Collective 2018" marks Strauss's live solo debut.
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