By SoberinfoOzzy Osbourne’s long battle with alcohol and drug abuse is no secret. The Black Sabbath frontman spent decades fueled by substances as his family struggled to keep him safe and standing. Now 72, the rock legend has 7 years sober from alcohol and drugs. He and his family recently sat down with Variety to open up about their experiences throughout the years.Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy’s wife, now 68, has been his longtime manager, responsible for making sure he could perform despite his varying states of intoxication. The couple’s 35-year old son, Jack, has 17 years of sobriety himself. Together, the family shared with Variety about their time trying to hold it together while living in the spotlight of Hollywood.
Whether they know why they know his name or not, nearly everyone has heard of Ozzy Osbourne. As the lead singer of Black Sabbath, he and his band are credited as pioneers of heavy metal, seen as the band that defined and shaped the genre. They came about at the tail end of the 1960s then hit their stride in the 70s.Like many bands during that time, members of the band struggled with heavy drug use. Osbourne was far from being the only one with a drug problem. But as Osbourne’s eventual vocal replacement, Tommy Iommi put it, he was on a “totally different level altogether.”It didn’t take long for people to see that Osbourne needed help. According to Osbourne himself, he probably needed help from the first time he took a drink. As he explained to Variety, “I never went for a drink. I went to get…smashed. I just checked out every day. And that becomes a way of life.” Black Sabbath eventually fired him in 1979 as a direct result of his alcohol and drug problems.
Despite his departure from the band in 1979, Osbourne didn’t enter his first rehab until 1984. Sharon learned of the Betty Ford Center after Elizabeth Taylor’s admittance and sent Ozzy soon after. Sharon had their second child the day before he headed off to treatment.Unfortunately, the Betty Ford Center didn’t help Ozzy stay sober. This first stay at the center started his steady stream of rehab attendance for the following three decades. Sharon remained hopeful until his fourth or fifth stay in a treatment center. After that, though, she succumbed to the realization that he may never get it.She spent years terrified her husband was going to die. Sharon made sure she was either with him herself or arranged to have someone there to check on him. Whether getting sick in the middle of the night, falling over, hitting his head or some other sort of accident, she spent all three decades with Ozzy’s addiction at the “front of her mind.”
The Osbournes are an example of the understanding that addiction often can run in families. While some children want to avoid being like their parents who form addictions, Jack focused on the exciting, adventurous parts of his father’s life. “I wanted to be the upside of it,” he told Variety, “Because the upside of it, when things were great, it seemed like a lot of fun.”Unfortunately, Jack’s substance use came with its own set of difficulties, much like his father. He had his own very publicized problem with alcohol and drugs. His problems played out on public television with the family’s reality show, The Osbournes. Jack was 17 when he finally went to rehab, where he was plagued by photographers trying to get the perfect shot.Jack managed to stay sober after his 2004 stay in rehab and now has 17 years away from alcohol and drugs. Though it took his dad another decade to put the substances down, both father and son now have some substantial time sober.Variety’s recent interview gave the world a brighter insight into the family’s battles with addiction. “The first year is the worst, isn’t it Jack?” Ozzy expressed to his son. “After the first year, it’s like you can start breathing again.”Jack echoed his sentiment, adding, “But then I found after the first year you’re like, ‘Oh, OK. So I guess I’ve just got to do that over again.’ And then when you get to two years, you’re like, ‘All right, I guess I’ve got to do these two years over again to get to four years.’ The blessing and the curse, I think with sobriety, is that time goes by really quickly, in a very strange way. It feels like a flash, 17 years because you’re counting time.”For those suffering from Alcohol Addiction and are looking to turn your life around the way Ozzy and Jack did, there are many tools and resources available, and you don’t have to be a celebrity to attain them. For example, Soberlink’s recovery monitoring tool keeps people connected with their loved ones and has helped hundreds of thousands of people in their recovery.