Trace Adkins isn’t the first country artist to deal with addictions, but his sobriety paved the way for 2003 to become the most successful year of his career.
Adkins is just one of several country stars interviewed for CMT Noisemakers 2003, a CMT News special highlighting the biggest news events of the past 12 months. Premiering Friday (Dec. 26) at 9 p.m. ET/PT, the special pays tribute to the late Johnny and June Carter Cash while recapping controversies centering on the Dixie Chicks, Toby Keith and Rascal Flatts.
As for Adkins, 2003 brought nothing but good news in 2003. His 2001 album Chrome became his first gold album in five years. He released his first greatest hits compilation and a brand new album, Comin’ On Strong. In June, he partnered with NASCAR to host the Trace Adkins Chrome 300 Busch Series race near Nashville. Two months later, he achieved a lifetime dream by being inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Adkins started the year fresh from a 28-day alcohol rehabilitation program at Cumberland Heights Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center near Nashville. Adkins was arrested for driving under the influence in July 2001 and later pleaded guilty to the charge. Adkins voluntarily entered the in-patient program.
“Last year I spent Christmas, New Year’s and my birthday in rehab,” Adkins tells CMT News. “From December the 18th to about January the 18th. You know, I think it was finally just a culmination of events. I was just on a fast track. My addiction and alcoholism had gotten to a point that it was taking me down fast, and it wasn’t going to be much longer before I would probably not be around, so some people stepped in to help me see that.”
Asked why he decided to publicly acknowledge his problem, Adkins says, “Well, why not? I mean everybody was going to find out anyway. Even if you wanted to keep it a secret, you wouldn’t be able to. So we just got ahead of it and came out and said, ’Hey, I’m an alcoholic and I need to get some help.’ And I think, hopefully, maybe that will serve as inspiration to some other people that are struggling with the decision that they need to make as to whether to get help with it or not. It’s not the end of the world.”
Adkins’ sobriety brought improvements in his voice. “I sing better this year,” Adkins laughs. “I’m singing better than I have in years and it feels great. My voice … doesn’t have that real bad whiskey rasp anymore. It’s strong and my range is better, especially on the top end.”
In completing his first year of sobriety, Adkins says, “I’m not prideful or anything like that, but there is great sense of accomplishment and a little pride there that I’ve been successful at least over the last year. But it’s because I’ve had such wonderful support. I have that luxury that a lot of people don’t have.”