Singer/songwriter John McAndrew has led a successful musical career, landing a handful of his songs in a couple of Hollywood movies and capturing the attention of local country superstars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. But none of that would exist without his journey into recovery coupled with his ability to appreciate the magic of music.
McAndrew, who had always considered himself a moderate drinker, began to face the reality that his drinking was affecting his health. At age 19, he entered a hospital with a blood-sugar level so high he began to hallucinate.
“I remember being in that hospital room, and a little green monster came to visit me,” he said. “He was kind of green, fluffy and smoky, and he came through the door and smiled at me.”
A doctor told McAndrew that he was a diabetic and asked how much he drank.
“A little bit – that’s our typical answer,” he said. “I asked, ‘Why? Can’t I drink anymore?’ “
The doctor advised that he should be drinking no more than 1.7 ounces of alcohol per day. McAndrew scoffed. The next day he left with 20 bags of syringes and headed to the liquor store. A week later, he was at a biker party, where a new level of his disease began to progress.
“They made crank out the back of their house, and they saw this guy with all these clean needles,” he recalled. “So, they offered me some crank, and I said, ‘I guess I’ll try that. This looks like fun.’ “
For another 10 years, McAndrew spiraled down into his disease.
“I don’t have to tell you that I wanted to commit suicide and I couldn’t stop drinking,” he confided.
Then, he found a new way to live through the help of a 12-step recovery program, which he has followed ever since. Through recovery, he has evolved his musical talents with a career infused with songs conveying a deepening message of hope and a power greater than himself.
McAndrew, who also works with Cumberland Heights in Nashville, visited JourneyPure at the River addiction treatment facility in June after a busy week of touring.
“I had this on my calendar,” he told the patients. “This is just one of those things that just refreshes me and picks me up. There are a few special places in this country, and you’re lucky enough to be at one.”
He comforted patients by giving them a moment to breathe, understand and connect through songs like “God Found Us at the Bottom,” “Give Me New Eyes” and “Like a Child.”
One by one, McAndrew called on patients to help sing and play instruments alongside him, offering a smile and warm understanding that he knew what they were feeling, thinking and living. He, too, knows that pain, but he also has experienced the joy, connection and hope of recovery.
Yes, McAndrew has led a great musical career, but it’s through recovery, which illuminated that path. A path he wants to share with all willing to receive the message.
From the JourneyPure team where we get to explore a wide variety of substance abuse- and mental health-related topics. With years of experience working alongside those suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues, we bring important messages with unparalleled knowledge of addiction, mental health problems, and the issues they cause.