JOURNEY's DEEN CASTRONOVO Reflects On The Depth Of His Drug-Addiction Despair: 'I Was Praying For Death'

February 3, 2024

During an appearance on the January 31 episode of SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", JOURNEY drummer Deen Castronovo, who famously completed court-ordered drug rehabilitation in 2015 after being arrested on domestic violence charges, spoke about how his faith and sobriety have given him a new outlook on life. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "[I've been back in JOURNEY since] July 19th of 2021. So [I've] been here a couple of years. This is my third year back. So, yeah, it's been great, bro. I mean, who in a million years would have thought that I would have been able to come back and be with my bros and play the music that I grew up with and I love? I'm very fortunate. I don't take it for granted. I definitely don't."

When host Eddie Trunk noted that Castronovo's positive attitude comes across in his playing when he is performing live now, Deen said: "Oh, dude, total restoration. Just getting off the drugs, getting my stuff together and working again and doing what I love. A lot of people don't get to do what they love to do and make a living doing it. When you've had it taken away because of some stupid decision or choice and you get that second chance, man, you do nothing to screw that up. And yeah, it's a perpetual state of gratitude every night [and] every day. Every morning I wake up, 'Okay. Number one. I'm alive and I'm breathing. That's a good thing.' And then I get to play and do what I love. Oh, yeah, dude. I'll never take it for granted ever again."

Deen also elaborated on the downward spiral that led to him getting arrested and being thrown in jail. He said: "I had a domestic dispute with my wife, and police were called. I was pretty messed up, man. I was on a 26-day run on drugs. I don't remember a lot of it. I remember being in jail for 15 days, which scared the hell out of me. I mean, that scared me straight. That freaked me out. I'd never been in jail before, so that was pretty heavy. So, yeah, I took two years off. I said, 'I'm not touching any drums. I'm not doing any music. I just need to focus on getting my life together.' So I did that. And I'd get offers, [and I would be] like, 'Yeah, I'm not ready.'"

He continued: "So, yeah, it was tough, but you know what? It needed to be done, man. I would have been dead. I mean, honestly. The amount of drugs I was taking in should have killed a rhino, bro. I was a mess. So, I'm grateful today, every day. You get slip-ups, you screw up, you come back, but that was the last time for me, man. I was done. I was done. So here I am, man, doing what I love. I mean, it's a blessing. It really is, bro."

Reflecting on how he got so heavily involved in drugs, Deen said: "Well, when I joined BAD ENGLISH, I was clean as a whistle. I wasn't doing anything. I was just a new kid and I was playing, doing what I loved. And it was actually when I got fired from Ozzy [Osbourne's band] that I just took a turn for the worse. I started drinking, and then, of course, when you're drinking, 'Well, why not have some cocaine with that drink?' And then the cocaine was burning the crap out of my nose and my vocal cords, and I'm, like, 'Oh, why don't I just smoke it?' So I started smoking crack. So it just progressively got worse and worse. And when I joined JOURNEY, there was times when I would stop. That was my worst enemy, man — being a partner in the band and making great money and having a lot of time on my hands. And my family went to hell, dude. I mean, trying to get me straight, the band trying to get me straight. And on the road, I'd be perfect. I would bring my 'A' game. I wouldn't touch a thing. It was when I came home that it was on, and it was on hard. And this last one, man, it threw me for a loop. I mean, it woke me up. I had to hit below bottom. Literally, I was below bottom crawling my way up to bottom. So, yeah, you don't want to go there."

Castronovo reiterated the importance of getting help and receiving therapy to address the underlying emotional and psychological causes of addiction, which tend to lose their influence once they are brought out into the open and dealt with honestly.

"Everybody says, 'Oh, don't do drugs.' I'm living proof, man," Deen said. "You'll lose it all. The next step for me would have been death. I mean, I was at death's door. I was 153 pounds. I was dying. And here I am, 25 pounds heavier, feeling good. I've got muscle. I'm working out now. I had to change my entire life. I had to turn it around and change my life. And it's not just the drugs, bro. Drugs are a symptom of underlying problems.

"I had a pretty shitty childhood," he explained. "I had a pretty crappy childhood. It was not easy. [I got] picked on a lot, and issues that I don't wanna talk about there. But, yeah, it was pretty rough, dude. So, I was numbing, because I didn't like who I was. And at the end there, I didn't even care. I was, like, 'Look, God, just let me take this hit and die. I don't even care, 'cause I can't stop. I cannot stop.' And I was praying for death bad — for real. Like, 'Just make it not painful, God. Just take me home.' But, yeah, it got that bad, bro. I'm just grateful to be on the other side. And you can do it. To work the program, you've gotta really have good people around you. You've gotta get away from the bad people, the people that that are 'yes men and wanna party with the drummer for JOURNEY and stuff like that. And again, it's been an up-and-down battle. But here I am today, and I'm grateful, man."

Castronovo added: "Me losing my job was a big motivation, and seeing what I did to my family. After you get sober, you see the wreckage and you just go, 'My god. What did I do? What was I thinking?' Hindsight's 20-20. And it was horrible to see the pain I caused the band, the legacy, my family mostly. Just seeing them humiliated by my actions. I won't ever do that to my kids again, my wife, my family ever again — ever again."

The now-59-year-old musician was dismissed from JOURNEY in 2015 following years of alcohol and drug abuse that led to him being sentenced to four years' probation for a variety of charges involving his now-wife.

Castronovo later admitted that he emotionally, verbally and physically abused his now-wife and said that he will always be indebted to her for calling the police after his 24-day methamphetamine binge.

"Domestic violence is really a choice, and it is calculated," he said in a 2015 interview with Statesman Journal. "The drugs and the alcohol exacerbated it immensely, but there's no excuse for what I did. I deal with it every day, and it's deeper than regret or remorse."

Deen spent 15 days in jail following his arrest, which he said scared him straight, and he lost his JOURNEY job. While still in rehab, he received a phone call from the band's manager letting him know he was being fired.

"They had to," Castronovo told Statesman Journal. "They have an impeccable legacy, and I tarnished that. They didn't fire me to punish me. They fired me because they love me and they wanted me to get help. They knew I couldn't do it and be on the road."

Castronovo returned to JOURNEY in July 2021 and has been performing with the band ever since, initially sharing the drum duties in the group with Narada Michael Walden.

In March 2021, Castronovo revealed that he was on opiates for over a year while waiting to get his back surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2015 booking photo courtesy of Marion County Sheriff's office

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