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JON JEREMY (PART 1)

I remember he was walking with the dog, and I wanted to pet the dog. And I don't know what I did. I did something to the dog, snapped at me and like, I got into a bad accident with the dog. This whole part of my lip actually got ripped off. So this part was off my face [motions to upper and lower left part of his lip]. I was so drunk, I didn't even really feel it.

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JON: [picks up phone] Heller?

MAN ON THE OTHER LINE: Hey Jon, you wanna go out tonight and get a couple of drinks. He?

JON: Nah, man, I'm sober as f**k.

THE START OF THE ADDICTION

So I've been involved in hip-hop for a while now and I got into sobriety, I started my sobriety journey around 2011. I had gotten into a lot of trouble. In retrospect, I didn't realize that it was kind of always an issue. I’ve never seen alcohol or drugs [as] an issue. A lot of my friends and everybody, it was kind of a social acceptance--also like when you're growing up, a rite of passage--and almost like binge drinking and maybe like smoking marijuana and stuff like that has been more kind of normalized? And kind of accepted, and kind of expected in just general society?


So even when I was coming into this, it was like it was OK to be a fall-down drunk at the bar, but it wasn't OK to be sober in society. At least that's how I felt when I first came in. So I struggled a bit with that. I struggled also with television, movies. It was always showing with that. It has been quite a journey for the past 7 years. Close to 7 years.

...maybe like smoking marijuana and stuff like that has been more kind of normalized? And kind of accepted, and kind of expected in just general society?

I grew up in an area which was very predominantly hip hop, and that's the genre of music that I'm involved with. And like I said, a lot of people came from my town like Biz Markie, EPMD, Craig Mack, and all those dudes are actually from my actual town. And then we have other acts that came from the town next door, like Keith Murray and K-Solo, and all those old school...a lot of old school, hip hop people. I was just surrounded by it--it was part of the culture. It was like nothing else in hip hop music.

...like most people are--[I was] very afraid to get on stage. So I would drink a lot of alcohol and almost to the point where it's almost like I became so inebriated that it was almost very difficult for me to even perform

And drinking--when I started to do a lot of shows, it would be at bars and just even early on--like most people are--[I was] very afraid to get on stage. So I would drink a lot of alcohol and almost to the point where it's almost like I became so inebriated that it was almost very difficult for me to even perform, and try to even complete the task that I was trying to do. And also drinking while I'm writing, drinking while I'm recording.


So you know, drugs and alcohol have been involved, so enmeshed with my musical part that almost when I came into sobriety it was very difficult to separate them two. In fact, when I came into recovery, I stopped doing music. When I came into recovery the last time, which was October 13th of 2013, I had vowed that I would not do music anymore because I thought music was a big trigger for me and I thought music was a big reason why I drank. And, “Oh, you know, I drink a lot because I do the shows,” or I'm always recording. So I thought that was the issue. But around March of 2014, I already came out with another 12-track or 17-track project. I think I stopped doing music for like 2 months, maybe 3 months, and then I went back.

Alcohol was like a floodgate [that] opened up a lot of other avenues for me when it came to mind-altering substances.

THE ALCOHOL AND DRUG SCENE

When it came to drinking, it was about I mean, I was young. I was, I want to say, experimenting with alcohol when I was like 9 or 10 or 11. You know what I'm saying? I was a latchkey kid, which is like my mom was working all the time. I’d come home from the bus, and go to the house and get inside and I was by myself a lot. I grew up in front of the television, and I think that's why I was so immersed in entertainment, just in general.


And I started to take liquor from my mom's--she used to have a liquor shelf, and I used to take it [liquor] and pour it in a plastic bottle, which, you know, I don't know where I picked up that behavior or why I would think that at that age. And I would drink a little bit, but I don't remember really getting drunk. And [I remember] in middle school, [we were] stealing beers here and there with the kids. I believe I could not tell you where it took off. So the furthest I can remember was high school, where it really took off, where I got into a lot of drinking with my friends--being brought home with the police, my friends were doing psychedelics. Alcohol was like a floodgate [that] opened up a lot of other avenues for me when it came to mind-altering substances.

Some people call it alcohol abuse. Some people call it alcoholism. There's actually a few names for what that might be. Either way, it doesn't tend to fare well for the person that is severely inflicted with whatever you want to call it...
Jon Jeremy with his mother

FRIENDSHIPS LOST

I had about two friends when I came into sobriety. One of them said that they didn't drink a lot, but every time they drank, they got pretty bad as far as every single time they drank. But of course, they said they only drank once in a while, but I saw it every maybe two weeks, three weeks, once a month--either way. I mean, they were pretty bad, but like, they only had one of those friends.


And then another friend [I] actually did heavy drugs with, and drinking--when I wanted to get better, I said, “Look, I'm done with this. I think I got to go to rehab.” And I remember him saying that, “All right man, you know, if you've got to go to rehab, go to rehab. But, you know, I don't think you have a problem.” I could tell that he really believed that I didn't have a problem.

I remember I broke up with a girlfriend, and I was drunk for like four days. And you know, binge drinking is nothing new to me. Blacking out was nothing new to me. Staying drunk for like 3, 4, or 5 days was nothing new to me.

Yes. I only had one of my friends, a girl and him a guy, and I actually did music with him back. So he's on one of my songs songs back in the day. And actually, he just passed away. He just passed away, he's no longer with us. And I believe it has to do with that. They call it a fatal disease, so it's not it's not any coincidence that...what choices do we have? Some people call it alcohol abuse. Some people call it alcoholism. There's actually a few names for what that might be. Either way, it doesn't tend to fare well for the person that is severely inflicted with whatever you want to call it, you know, at the end of the day.

THE TURNING POINT

When I first came in, it was because I had gotten into an accident, actually. I was drunk for like 4 days at that time. I remember I broke up with a girlfriend, and I was drunk for like four days. And you know, binge drinking is nothing new to me. Blacking out was nothing new to me. Staying drunk for like 3, 4, or 5 days was nothing new to me.

I was renting a place at a person's house and I didn't know the family, but they had a dog there. And I remember I was really drunk and probably the last day, the 4th day or whatever I was drunk--I remember he was walking with the dog, and I wanted to pet the dog. And I don't know what I did. I did something to the dog, snapped at me and like, I got into a bad accident with the dog. This whole part of my lip actually got ripped off. So this part was off my face [motions to upper and lower left part of his lip].

I was so drunk, I didn't even really feel it. I just remember going back in and locking my door and laying down on my couch, and putting a T-shirt on my face, and I'm bleeding out.

I was so drunk, I didn't even really feel it. I just remember going back in and locking my door and laying down on my couch, and putting a T-shirt on my face, and I'm bleeding out. And the owner saw what happened. So they're banging on the door and I'm like, “I'm all right. I'm all right. Go away, go away.” That's how drunk I was. But finally, I open the door and then they wanted to see my face. They were crying. They were hysterical crying, and scared. They probably thought they were going to get in trouble because it was their dog, or something like that. But they rushed me to the hospital, and I remember just passing out. And then I woke up, and they had surgically put my face back on.


What happened was, my family was notified and my mom came, and it wasn't for my mom...She said that she wanted a plastic surgeon to do this [motions to part of lips that were bitten off]. So they said, “It's going to be 2 hours to get a plastic surgeon to come here.” “I don't care,” she [my mom] goes. “None of you guys are going to touch my son unless I get a plastic surgeon.” So thanks to her, they came and they did this [motions to fixed face].

...they rushed me to the hospital, and I remember just passing out. And then I woke up, and they had surgically put my face back on.

So, you know, no matter how much it would have cost or whatever, I mean, at the end of the day is better off to stay in debt for however long just to be able to not have gigantic scars, even though I don't feel this part of my face, really. All this is like still numb. The doctor said I might get feeling or I might not get feeling back.


And I wish I could tell you that was the last time I drank. And that was very traumatizing. And I still love dogs, just to say, because I really love animals. And whatever I did, I know it was because I was drunk. And whatever happened, I must have startled him or did something incorrect because, I was so inebriated and blacked out drunk.

Last day drunk
And I wish I could tell you that was the last time I drank. And that was very traumatizing.

So that wasn't the turning point. I started to try to go to 12-step programs, and try to get involved in recovery outpatients and stuff like that, and go to places of worship and try to do all these types of things. My father passed away 4 years ago in January, and he was 18 years clean and sober when he passed away. And he went to church and he got sober that way. And I tried to do that and that didn't work either.


So I struggled for a couple of years, until I have to say, I mean, within those 2 years after getting my face ripped off, I got my second DWI [Driving While Intoxicated] within 3 years. I mean, I can speak freely--you knot, I got a felony on that. I did in-patient in Brooklyn. And when I got out, I drank 2 days later. And then I started to try to go to recovery again and got 5 months. But I started drinking afterwards. So really, honestly, it was when I got into some heavier drugs, like with cocaine and stuff like that. And I just remember one day walking outside of a Phoenix house, which is a rehabilitation, and inpatient-outpatient type treatment center. And I just remember walking outside and I just felt like I was going to die, like I just didn't know how to control it anymore.

My father passed away 4 years ago in January, and he was 18 years clean and sober when he passed away. And he went to church and he got sober that way.

And nothing happened. Nothing happened on the outside. There were no dog attacks. There was no getting pulled over. And there was no inpatient. There was nothing like that. It was the admission in myself that I can't do this anymore. And that was it--I was just walking outside on a fall day, and saying, “You know what, I'm going to try this recovery one more time. Just one more time.”

Jon with his father

My great idea was I was going to violate probation, because I was on probation at that time. And if I violated probation, I’d do a year in jail. So I figured I can violate probation, then I'll do a year in jail and then I have a year clean, clean and sober. That was my best thinking. And that's where my best thing would have landed me. But I went and with the most sincerity that I could have. And I think that's what really takes a person that really wants to do something--You know, you set a goal, and you stay consistent. And if you could practice any type of discipline, any at all, that goes a long way.

I just remember walking outside and I just felt like I was going to die, like I just didn't know how to control it anymore.

But really none of it would even stick, matter, or you'd be able to continue to do it, unless you had that willingness. But underneath that willingness is that true sincerity to want to change. And I really had that little bit of sincerity, which just grew to where it is right now.

THAT BIT OF SINCERITY

Just for today, I could say that I know that I just can't drink. Talking to one of my friends who, they smoke weed and everything like that, and, you know, we were having a conversation and they were asking me what my thoughts about things were. And I said, “You know, I equate it to like a piece of cake. You know what I'm saying? There's nothing wrong with having a piece of cake for some people, I said. But if I was severely diabetic, you know, then it might be an issue. I said, "So with certain things, some people just, it's an issue for them.” And I said, “It's no issue for me what someone else does with their life.” I mean, I could just tell, like I said, for today, right now I am more convinced now that I can't drink, smoke, or do anything than I was 7 years ago.

Nothing happened on the outside...And that was it--I was just walking outside on a fall day, and saying, “You know what, I'm going to try this recovery one more time. Just one more time.”
I think the biggest freedom I have is knowing what I am

When I first came in, I didn't realize how powerless maybe I was, or exactly whatever you want to call it. I just didn't realize how addicted I was, or how much of an issue it was once it gets into my body. But I do [know] more now, today. I'll tell you right now, I'm more aware today than I was back in the day. And I'll tell you, I know what will happen if I have even a little bit of anything. It's been lifted. I don't want that anymore. But I'm very aware of what I am today. I think the biggest freedom I have is knowing what I am--and what I am is a person that suffers from this alcohol disorder, alcoholism, whatever you want to call it.

Story of Hip-hop and rap artist from New York, Jon Jeremy (Jon Jeremy on Spotify)

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