3 Lies Grammy-Winning Former Maroon 5 Drummer Told Himself To Avoid Getting Sober

He was pushed out of the hit-making band he founded, but that was far from 'rock bottom' for Ryan Dusick.

Maroon 5 original members, Ryan Dusick is the original drummer, circled in red Featureflash Photo Agency via Shutterstock | Canva via Fusion Books, Halal Studio, Tin C

Navigating sobriety can make you feel alone, but the truth is, millions of people will travel the road to recovery every year. Among those who battled alcoholism is Ryan Dusick, former drummer of the band Maroon 5. 

Dusick founded the band in high school and was the drummer for Maroon 5 for more than a decade — including on their Grammy-winning first album, Songs About Jane

Then Dusick was asked to leave the band, and he knew it was time.


In a compelling episode of the podcast Open Relationships: Transforming Together, host Andrea Miller sat down with Ryan Dusick to discuss his journey from awkward teen to Grammy-winning artist to today, as a therapist helping others with anxiety and substance use, which he details in his book, Harder to Breathe: A Memoir of Making Maroon 5, Losing It All, and Finding Recovery

Lies I Told Myself To Avoid Getting Sober After Losing My Dream Job

Anyone dealing with substance abuse disorder (SUD) tends to avoid the truth by lying to themselves, and probably others. It isn't that they want to lie, more that they hope to sidestep their reality and the road to recovery. The disease of alcoholism wants its victims to stay hooked and will keep people lying to avoid reality. 


"It was a really difficult time. I didn't feel like I had any way to cope other than to escape," begins Dusick. "My whole identity was wrapped up in being in that band."

He didn't just lose his dream job; he lost his childhood best friends who had become a family and creative outlet. Countless opportunities slipped through his fingers, and he was reminded of what he had lost every time he turned on the TV.

Dusick says, "It was like a constant reminder of what it was that I was missing out on." And so he self-medicated with pills doctors had given him for his nerve pain and injuries, as well as alcohol. But, for years, these excuses prevented him from seeing that he needed help. 

1. If I can take a week or month off drinking, I don't have a problem

"There's a chapter in the book called 'The Illusion of Control', which is a phrase you hear in recovery rooms a lot, where, you know, this is all the stages of denial, all the rationalizations you make, that somehow I have control over this thing."


"For the longest time, I thought I had control because I could stop for a period or I could, like, limit it to just beer and wine," he continued. 

But he didn't have control. 

2. If other people think I'm fine, then I'm fine

"In my mind," Dusick explains to co-host Joanna Schroeder, "as long as I could show up at family events and put on a face that I was doing okay and no one was worrying about me, then I was fine. If other people thought I was fine, then I was fine."

Another tricky aspect of The Illusion of Control! 

3. If I'm not in jail or homeless, I'm OK

For a lot of people, explains Dusick, "it doesn't really hit them how low they are until they're on the street or their family have turned their back on them, or they're in jail or something really life-altering happens that you can't recover from." 


This system allowed him to stay in denial of his problem for years. 

Dusick explains, "At the end of my drinking I was very sick. I mean, I was physically sick as well as spiritually sick."

Every night he would black out on the couch and when he awoke, he was met with loads of anxiety and panic. The truth was, he couldn't even be around others without having something in his system.

 "It was a spiritual bottom," he told Miller. "It was just feeling really broken and disconnected from living."

@yourtango Ryan Dusick, the founding drummer of @Maroon 5, shares his story of rehabilitation and recovery on the latest episode of the ‘Open Relationships’ podcast - available now! #drummer #musician #maroon5 #podcast ♬ original sound - YourTango

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Facing the grief of losing his position as drummer in Maroon 5

In those moments, it felt like there was no way to cope with that loss. He went through a grieving process, but admits he didn't know how to handle it properly.

He was angry, sad, and consumed by guilt and regret. He hadn't talked about the emotional pressure of being a rock star, even with his bandmates.

"For me, you know, 20 years ago, just saying to my buddies, 'Hey guys, I'm not doing so well, I'm feeling anxious and feeling depressed' ... that's just not something I would have done," Dusick explains. That sort of "tough it out" mentality followed him through the years of heartbreak and grief after losing his band. 

"I think it was probably just a cultural sort of stigma, and wanting to just kind of bear down and be tough and tough it out and get through it. So the fact that I wasn't reaching out and I wasn't sharing and getting that support from my peers, did make me feel kind of a loner," he said.  


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After a while, though, he had to face the truth of his situation: he was now the creator of his own misery. 

Dusick says, "As unfortunate as it was [that I hadn't ended up in jail], at this point what was perpetuating it was the fact that I was still doing this to myself. If I continued to do that it was going to keep getting worse until I died."

However, he didn't know where that would lead him. All he knew was that things had gotten out of control, which was a huge step in his healing journey.

Dusick explains, "There was, thankfully, that first gut feeling: I don't want this for my life and I don't want to die. I actually want to live again. And I know that I'm going to have to accept help and start walking in that direction of recovery."


And the reality is, that admitting you are powerless is utterly terrifying. And acknowledging that you have no control over your disease is a slap in the face. 

Which is why Dusick had lied to himself about his ability to control his use. He would tell himself that if he could go a week without drinking then was it really a disease?

But that's the nature of substance use disorder — it's a disease that makes you deny the truth staring you right in the face. 


Now he realized that this drinking and drug use was out of control, and the lies of control he had told himself before were just a cover-up.

But after much time and healing, he can finally stand here today, fully recovered, and using his own experiences to help others.

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Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.