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Even five years after he quit drinking, Rzeznik says he still takes careful steps to maintain his sobriety.
Goo Goo Dolls’ Johnny Rzeznik

As the Goo Goo Dolls celebrate their 33rd anniversary together, frontman Johnny Rzeznik is celebrating a more personal milestone: five years of sobriety.

“People actually like me again,” Rzeznik told Cleveland.com. “I think it’s made me a better person. It certainly has humbled me."

Even five years after he quit drinking, Rzeznik says he still takes careful steps to maintain his sobriety.

“I have a very powerful form of alcoholism. I finally gave up and accepted the fact that if I even smell too much booze, I’m going to start drinking again,” he said. “That’s just how I am.”

Rzeznik says he finds fellowship through performing. “Connecting with the audience. If I go up there and say a little something or tell a little story or the audience is singing all the lyrics to the songs, I feel like I did my job. All I want to do is connect.”

That is something that can’t be replaced, even in an increasingly digital age. “One of the things about live music that’s so incredibly important and can’t be replaced and automated is the common focus of a room full of people having that human contact and being immersed in the sensory overload of a rock concert,” Rzeznik said. “The volume, the lights, the smells, the people bumping into you…”

That personal connection is especially important for people today, he said.

“We live in an increasingly isolated world, so it’s important to get out and actually touch people and laugh and cry and do all those things.”

Even after 33 years of playing his songs, Rzeznik is always willing to play them again.

“A rock star I know said, ‘I just can’t play that song anymore,’ and I said, ‘You’re an ungrateful bastard. That song bought you a house in Northern California. That song put your kid through college,'” he said. “'Stand up there for three-and-a-half minutes and sing the [bleeping] song!’”

Last year, Rzeznik revealed that he has a sobriety tracker on his phone. His recovery started after a New York blackout forced him to realize it was time to change.

Going To Rehab

He called his manager and said, “I’m not doing anything for the next three months. I’ve got to take care of this, because I’m going to die.”

He went to rehab for three months, but wished he could have had even more in-depth treatment.

“I wish I could have stayed for six months,” he said. “I went to a very serious place, where they don’t do yoga and massage. They concentrate on triangulating treatment, where it’s like therapy and 12 step and some spiritual work.”

After growing up with an alcoholic father, Rzeznik is happy that he will be raising his daughter in a sober home.

“I’m paraphrasing someone else, but kids turn you into the person that you should have been the whole time,” he said. 
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