Korn Frontman Jonathan Davis Discusses His Struggle With Xanax Addiction

Davis struggled for years with a serious benzo dependency and has also kicked other drugs.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Davis struggled for years with a serious benzo dependency and has also kicked other drugs.

In 1994, Korn’s debut self-titled album was considered to be remarkably dark, heavy, and high energy. A sizeable portion of that defining sound came from Jonathan Davis’ severe amphetamine addiction at the time, according to Rolling Stone’s oral history on the record. They also called it “the most important metal record of the last 20 years.”

While Davis’ battles with amphetamines and alcohol are well documented, fans are recently learning that the pioneer musician’s drug problems were even more intricate than anyone realized, according to Revolver. Jonathan Davis goes on to describe years of dependence on the anti-anxiety medication known as Xanax. He details the agony of kicking his habit and having to do so on more than one occasion.

“Benzos are the f**king devil,” Davis said, in a video series called Through The Black Labyrinth, which details recording sessions for his recent solo album Black Labyrinth.

Korn on set of video for ‘Alone I Break.’ Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Xanax is the trade name for a medication called alprazolam, which belongs to a family of drugs called benzodiazepines, or benzos for short. Benzos carry a withdrawal process considered to be one of the world’s most difficult to get through. According to Drugabuse.com, depending on severity and extent of the addiction, benzo withdrawal can last for months or even years. The process is often physically painful and even dangerous, as the withdrawal symptoms can actually kill the victim.

Today Jonathan Davis now lives a sober lifestyle and is an inspiration to recovering addicts, having kicked some of the hardest drug habits and still maintaining significant creative productivity. Among musicians and artists, drugs are often seen as a necessary tool for the creative process. Artists the world over become dependent on substances because they feel unable to create without the assistance of substances like amphetamines, alcohol, opiates, and cocaine.

Jonathan Davis has maintained sobriety for years while recording new albums with Korn regularly, as well as performing to sold-out concert venues. Davis’ story is one example of how things can go when an artist makes it through the bleak path of addiction.

Unfortunately, not every story goes the direction of Jonathan Davis’. Examples of artists who did not win their battles against addiction include Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, and Scott Weiland.

The CDC reports that in 2014, more than 21 million American adults were battling a serious drug addiction. In 2016, more than 63,000 people died directly from drug overdoses, while all drug-related deaths topped 2.7 million.