How to Get Help for an Addiction With Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Ricky Byrd

Ricky Byrd

Verywell / Julie Bang

Every Monday on The Verywell Mind Podcast, Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW, interviews authors, experts, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, and other inspirational people about the strategies that help them think, feel, and do their best in life.

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Meet Ricky Byrd

Ricky Byrd is a rock and roll guitar player, singer, songwriter, and music producer. For more than a decade, he was a member of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, where he contributed background vocals and music to many albums, including two platinum albums and one gold album.

His most famous song might be “I Love Rock and Roll,” which was released in 1981. 

For many years, Ricky lived what might be the “typical” musician lifestyle. He drank, used drugs, and partied hard as he toured around the world alongside other famous musicians like Paul McCartney, Alice Cooper, Bruce Springstein, and Stevie Wonder. 

But Ricky made a decision to get sober over 30 years ago. Since then, he’s created a lot of new music that focuses on recovery and hope. He often performs at benefit shows to raise money for drug and alcohol treatment facilities. 

He’s become a certified recovery coach and drug and alcohol counselor. He frequently leads recovery music groups at treatment facilities around the United States. 

Why Ricky Byrd Is Mentally Strong

Now that Ricky is in recovery, he chooses to spend a lot of his time and talent helping others who are struggling with an addiction.

Ricky Encourages People to Find Their Own Recovery Paths

While he found 12-step meetings to be a helpful component to his recovery, he recognizes that there’s more than one path to recovery. He encourages people to seek out different options until they figure out what works best for them. 

What You’ll Hear on the Show

  • How Ricky developed a substance abuse problem
  • How his denial and self-punishment kept his substance abuse going
  • The one thing that inspired him to get help
  • How people had tried to tell him about AA and why it didn’t work at first
  • Why he loves 12-step meetings so much
  • The link between addiction and isolation
  • Why Ricky thinks helping other people helps him stay in recovery
  • Why 12-step meetings don’t work for everyone
  • How to talk to someone if you’re concerned about their substance use
  • Alternative options for 12-step meetings
  • The resources Ricky wants people to use to get help

What You’ll Learn About Mental Health and Mental Strength

Sometimes people think addiction is a sign of weakness. But, it’s not. A substance abuse problem doesn’t mean you lack willpower or that you don’t have mental strength.

Many mentally strong people have battled addiction. And what worked for one person to get into recovery won’t necessarily work for another. 

Some addictions have a genetic component. Other addictions occur alongside mental health issues. Over time, substances can change the chemistry of the brain, making it very difficult to quit. 

But there are many different paths to recovery now. There are medications that stop alcohol and drug cravings, inpatient rehab centers, outpatient therapy options, 12-step meetings, and many other strategies that help combat addictions.

Quotes From Ricky Byrd

Ricky Byrd

Isolation is just the worst thing for addicts and alcoholics. If you're alone long enough, your brain will tell you that you're not that bad and maybe I could just have one [drink].

— Ricky Byrd
  • "I was hating myself that I couldn't stop. You punish yourself by doing more which is a whole therapy thing."
  • "What I try to do in recovery is plant seeds. You can't get anybody clean, but you could plant seeds and point them in the right direction and help them through the journey."
  • "If you're in recovery, reach out to other people that are struggling. Talk to your friends that are in recovery, [and] keep that dialogue going."
  • "I'm not here to sell you on 12-step groups. That's just the way I did it. There [are] other recovery [programs] out there. Whatever makes you feel, whatever keeps you on the right side of the grass. That's what you should do."

More About the Podcast

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Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript does not go through our standard editorial process and may contain inaccuracies and grammatical errors. Thank you.

For media or public speaking inquiries, contact Amy here.

Links and Resources

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By Amy Morin, LCSW
Amy Morin, LCSW, is a psychotherapist and international bestselling author. Her books, including "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," have been translated into more than 40 languages. Her TEDx talk,  "The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong," is one of the most viewed talks of all time.