“Most of the things in my life have got exponentially better from not drinking, but it’s lonely being sober on big tours,” Welch revealed.
Florence Welch, frontwoman of the indie rock band Florence + The Machine, recently opened up about the loneliness of touring while sober and the anxiety that comes at the beginning of every tour. Though it’s not easy on her, Welch says that it’s the fans that get her through it and eventually get her to enjoy the shows.
“Most of the things in my life have got exponentially better from not drinking, but it’s lonely being sober on big tours,” she said in an interview with ES Magazine. “But really it’s the people at the shows that save me.”
Welch has been open about her issues with alcohol use, as well as her depression and anxiety, for years. In a 2018 interview with The Guardian, she spoke on how she used alcohol in order to cope with the stress of touring.
“That’s when the drinking and the partying exploded as a way to hide from it,” she explained. “The partying was about me not wanting to deal with the fact that my life had changed, not wanting to come down.”
However, by her 10th year as a high-profile singer, Welch had decided that she didn’t want to go down that path anymore. Like an increasing number of people, she decided to go sober even though she didn’t necessarily have a severe addiction. Thankfully, she found that becoming sober from both drugs and alcohol has significantly reduced her overall anxiety.
“I think I’ve probably had it low-level, and sometimes extreme, for as long as I can remember,” she told ES. “Stopping drinking and taking drugs has had a hugely helpful effect.”
Welch, a self-described introvert, said that she feels like she’s “going into shock” during the initial days of any tour — an experience that keeps her up at night and drives her to call her manager to say “I just can’t do this. This is the last one.” Thankfully, she soon gets into the flow and by the end, she “can’t wait to go back and play.”
Mental illness and substance use disorders often overlap. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “it isn’t unusual for people with social anxiety disorder – or other anxiety disorders – to drink excessively to cope with symptoms or try to escape them.”