Ed Sheeran Shares Secret Struggle With Substance Abuse

"I can't work under the influence," the singer-songwriter says on The Jonathan Ross Show

By Zach Johnson Oct 20, 2017 1:00 PMTags

Ed Sheeran has admitted to drinking too much in the past, but on The Jonathan Ross Show Saturday, the singer-songwriter reveals for the first he has also struggled with substance abuse.

"I think you need to, when you get into the industry, adjust to [fame], and I didn't adjust because I was constantly working on tour. And all the pitfalls that people read about, I just found myself slipping into all of them. Mostly, like, substance abuse," Sheeran said. "I never touched anything. I started slipping into it, and that's why I took a year off and buggered off."

Before he released his third album in March, the "Shape of You" singer went on a year-long hiatus to clear his head. During that time, Sheeran famously got rid of his cell phone and went on a self-imposed social media blackout. "I focused on work, and I can't work under the influence. I can't write songs under the influence. I can't perform under the influence. So, the more I worked, the less [that happened]," Sheeran said on the show. "I've worked my whole life to get to where I am, and you can't lose that over something that you do in your spare time."

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It took some time for Sheeran to realize he had a problem. "I didn't really notice it was happening," he said. "It just started gradually happening, and then some people took me to one side and were like, 'Calm yourself down.' It's all fun to begin with. It all starts off as a party, and then you're doing it on your own and it's not, so that was a wake-up call and [I took] a year off."

Sheeran credited his girlfriend, Cherry Seaborn, with helping him kick his bad habits. "We live together now, and I think that was a real help grounding me," the British musician explained. "I was a 25-year-old in the music industry on tour, so I just needed someone to balance me out."

The "Castle on the Hill" singer first opened up about his heavy drinking in a March 2017 Rolling Stone cover story. Sheeran's frequent songwriting partner, Johnny McDaid, became concerned about him after they ran into each other at a show in Hollywood in 2015. "He was just go, go, go," he said. "I sat him down and said, 'Look, man, please have all the fun in the world. But be careful because if that elastic snaps, it could take a long time to recover from it.'"

Taking a time out was just what Sheeran needed. "I've noticed, in the last few months, he knows it's going to be all right," McDaid told the magazine. "He knows that he's done a pretty amazing thing again. I think he reconnected to his friends and family, and he feels anchored."

Sheeran has cut back on drinking, he added. "Often, I'm like, 'Is it bad that I drink almost every single day?' And then I look at my friends and most of them do the same. And they're actually worse than me. The first thing Americans say is, 'There's a problem, and you need to go to rehab.' But I don't wake up and drink. I don't depend on drink. I can go without it completely. I just enjoy going out and having fun, being 25," he explained. "And I think that's a normal thing."

"He can be extremely naughty. It's a good thing he didn't appear in the same era as I did, otherwise we'd be up for three weeks together," said Elton John, who has been sober for 27 years and is friends with Sheeran. "He's not a big druggy, but he likes a drink. He's a lot of fun."