In a new interview with the “Into The Necrosphere” podcast, MEGADETH bassist David Ellefson was asked what advice he had for young people who lost their way and need to make changes in their lives or need to get back on track somehow. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “Well, I don’t give advice, but I can just share my own experience. And I was that person where, by age 23, [I was] strung out, [we were signed to] Capitol Records, [and] our band [was] doing great. All the problems we had were because of a drug-and-alcohol lifestyle. Our manager came in and said, ‘Hey, the future looks bright. It’s yours to have. But you guys have gotta get cleaned up. You’ve gotta get it together.’ And it was interesting, ’cause it was right at a time when other famous bands that we know were also getting clean. And the days of the music industry putting big money on fucked up junkie rock stars, that day was after. And they made that very clear, like, ‘That party is over. We’re not dealing with that. We’re here to be successful, make money, have success and go to the top. And if you can be high while doing it, then let’s go, but if you can’t, then you need to change your ways, because we’re going to the top. And if you can’t get there with us, we’re gonna drop you off right here. Enjoy the rest of your life.’ And I heard that very clear. And I got that message early on. I was, like, ‘Yeah, the party’s gotta stop, man. Because I’m here for the music, and this is my passion and my ambition to do this professionally.’
“There is help out there,” Ellefson continued. “The recovery community is out there. There’s a lot of depression and other things that are talked about now. It’s a lot more compact and pressurized because of social media. Things are immediate and people can see what other people are saying about them. And when you’re young, people’s opinion of you, especially friends or foe, those things can change the arc of your life. I’ve talked to a lot of young fans who go through this. And they get really bummed out and depressed and even suicidal over what people say about them on social media. I’ve talked to my own kids about it.
“Where people used to talk behind your back, now they just talk behind your back out in the open on social media, and it’s hurtful — it’s hurtful to people. And that’s hard for a younger person to emotionally digest that and deal with that.
“So there is help out there, and I’d say if you are struggling with it, there are options; there’s ways to get through it and there’s ways to get better. Please seek the help. Live to fight another day. Use the power of music, if you need to, to help give you motivation.
“We’ve been told a lot of our MEGADETH songs have been very inspiring to people,” Ellefson added. “So, look, turn to music, turn to the arts, if that helps you cope. But definitely get help.
“I hear people say, ‘Oh, God never gives you more than you can handle.’ And I’ve never heard a more untrue statement ever. God always gives us more than we can handle ’cause we’re supposed to rely on him, not us. It’s the one that says, ‘I can handle this on my own.’ It’s, like, ‘No, you’re not. You were never supposed to.’ We’re here to be part of a bigger thing, and the creator who made us and put us here, we’re supposed to go to him. He’s the father who presides over all.”
Back in 2014, Ellefson, who celebrated the 31st anniversary of his getting sober last month, spoke to students at Fountain Hills High School in Fountain Hills, Arizona about his unsuccessful attempts at rehab, as well as his recovery. Ellefson, who became a Lutheran pastor a few years ago, ultimately turned to faith as his method of solving his drug addiction.
“I was 15 when I started drinking,” he told the audience, according to The Fountain Hills Times. “I started smoking pot when I was 16, and just followed that with cocaine and heroin.”
He continued: “Heroin is an insidious and sneaky drug. And I was completely strung out on it.”
According to Ellefson, he finally hit rock bottom after he had been in rehab three times. “And I said, ‘Lord, please help me,'” he said.
“When I finally hit that bottom, I woke up the next day, and I didn’t do drugs and I didn’t drink,” he said. “And I didn’t on day two, or on day three.”
Ellefson did his best to discourage the students from dabbling in drugs and alcohol, saying: “You don’t know if you are going to take a drink, then get in the car to drive home and kill somebody, or kill yourself, but it happens. And you don’t know if smoking pot one time isn’t going to lead to more. But I can tell you this: the best way to be absolutely sure is to just not start. Just don’t start.”
He added: “[Addiction is] kind of a funny thing. Addiction is a lie. It likes to get you alone because when you are alone, that addiction will talk to you and try to take you back to it. And addiction, while it can make you feel unique, completely takes away our uniqueness. We’re like any other junkie. Using alcohol and drugs is an equalizer. We just blend in. So the best part of us goes away.”