Billy Joel recently did an interview with the New York Times in which he discussed his music, his relationship with Elton John, and his past issues with alcohol, among other things. Even though Joel is no stranger to rehab facilities and substance abuse treatment programs, he stated that his problems were actually related to depression, not alcohol. He mentioned that the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers in New York City deeply affected him, and he struggled with the realization that humanity could be so cruel. The events pushed him into a serious depression, for which he leaned on alcohol to medicate himself and dull the pain. When mentioning his three car accidents prior to entering treatment, Bill Joel said that he was in a mental fog and was not concentrating on anything, which caused the accidents.
Whether the depression came first or the alcohol, it’s difficult to put much weight in Billy Joel’s claim that he has not struggled with alcoholism in the past, particularly after his two tours in substance abuse programs in 2002 and 2005. In 2011, Elton John publicly urged Billy Joel to enter rehab again, but Joel did not take the suggestion seriously and instead shrugged it off. The two musicians toured together for 16 years, but Joel insists that Elton John does not know him on a personal level. After many years of friendship or, at the very least, professional interaction, Elton John and Billy Joel have evidently cut ties and no longer speak.
It’s common for an alcoholic to deny that he has a problem, and to make excuses for their behavior and their interaction with alcohol. Alcoholics commonly withdraw from friends and family and may try even harder to hide their problem. It’s unclear whether Billy Joel truly does suffer from alcohol dependency, but anyone struggling with alcohol issues should seek professional help.
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