A Path to Sobriety: Johnny G’s journey through substance abuse and bipolar disorder
On New Year’s Eve, Johnny G. pondered his bright future and all his accomplishments since he became sober. At 25-years-old, this talented pianist, guitarist, producer and singer also offers guidance and hope to others in recovery. Although it’s not the path he initially intended for himself, serving others in treatment helps him to stay on the sober path.
Life with music and substances
Johnny’s interest in music began during high school when he started a band called Down with Tolerance. His drug use started when he smoked pot with one of his high school band members. As this occasional habit turned into a daily one, he began gambling and skipping class, and he barely graduated from high school. As an 18-year-old, Johnny was recognized by the music industry and earned a record deal with Warner Bros. Records right out of high school.
Johnny started living life in the fast lane when his band, Back to Square One, was on tour with Mickey Avalon. His drug use spiraled out of control as he began experimenting with more serious drugs like psychedelics. At that point, Johnny insightfully said, “It was no longer about music; it was about the drugs. I started doing shady things and stopped sleeping.” His band ended up breaking up, which was when he met his mentor and producer, Ronnie King, who helped him work on his first solo album, “Johnny G.”
Battling bipolar disorder
Manic episodes, influenced by his drug use and lack of sleep, resulted in several involuntary hospitalizations and unsuccessful attempts to get sober. After a two-month stay at another Southern California treatment facility, Johnny left feeling depressed and ended up relapsing after six months of sobriety. “Coachella was a life-changing moment for me in my recovery. Everyone was partying and I thought I could be like a normal person and join in, but I ended up taking it to the extreme and started losing my mind.”
After Coachella, Johnny was involuntarily hospitalized for six days. He returned to that treatment facility, where one of the staff members recommended that he go to Sovereign Health for the dual diagnosis program. With the encouragement and moral support of his family, Johnny was in Sovereign’s dual diagnosis treatment program for 30 days. Although he was skeptical of the program, he jumped in with both feet. While he was in the program, he developed an understanding of his co-occurring bipolar disorder and alcoholism, and how they both impacted his life.
Although he was initially in denial of his bipolar diagnosis, a year later he voluntarily hospitalized himself for a severe manic episode and decided to return to Sovereign for the mental health program. “The biggest lesson I learned from treatment was not to hold expectations of other people, to have integrity and be more honest and transparent with myself,” he said.
For those who are dealing with an addiction or a mental health issue, Johnny said, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s OK to be vulnerable and to ask for help, because there are people who are there who are willing to help you out. However, I believe in self-advocating — you are never going to get anything fully done unless you fully commit yourself and ask for yourself the things that you want and need.”
His sober path, one year later
Johnny celebrated one year of sobriety on Oct. 28. Although he faced times when he was tempted to relapse, he has recognized the importance of avoiding tempting situations and surrounding himself with others he could trust in the program. To stay on the sober path, Johnny continues to attend AA meetings every day.
“I lost myself for so long that I wouldn’t be where I’m at without the program. I had to find a great sponsor who had exactly what I wanted. The line in AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) is that, ‘Half measures availed us nothing,’ meaning that if I go half in, I’m going to get half results … I had to go all in and find faith within myself … Instead of expectations, I now have standards of living that I live by today.”
“My clarity is the best thing I have today,” he said. Johnny asserted his trusting relationships with his family are stronger than ever and a vast improvement compared to his life before treatment. Johnny diligently works as a client advisor at Monarch Shores and runs sales and marketing at his mom’s company. He is working on obtaining his business and real estate licenses and will be graduating from the Los Angeles Film School in nine months.
Johnny emphasized the importance of finding and maintaining a balance and setting goals in recovery. He now focuses on his passions and dreams without interference from his drug and alcohol use. Johnny’s music is uniquely inspired by his personal experiences with mental health and addiction, and lessons he has learned along the way.
On his website, Johnny asserted that the changes he has made in his life are now allowing his dreams and aspirations to finally come true. “I have several tracks coming out in the New Year and I’m continuing to pursue my interests in music and producing. I am excited to be an inspiration and of service to others where I work. My hope is that I provide others in recovery with a sense of strength and hope,” he said. “I do recommend Sovereign’s programs to anyone looking for treatment or in need of help. I have the number on hand for clients and friends or for anyone who needs it.”