You may know him as the Swedish DJ, songwriter, and remixer Avicii.
He started posting remixes on forums as a teen. And rose to superstardom with hits like “Levels” and “Wake Me Up.” He toured the world, sharing his music with millions.
But to those close to him, Tim Bergling was a young man tormented by a life-long battle with anxiety and depression. He spent years trying to numb his mental health struggles with substances. This led to multiple addictions and, ultimately, his suicide.
Tim – The Official Biography of Avicii sheds light on the inner turmoil Bergling experienced throughout his career. Mans Mosesson, the author of the biography, had access to Avicii’s private journals.
These introspective and honest journals revealed the extent of Avicii’s mental health struggles and his reliance on self-medication to numb his internal battles.
“It feels like I’m going to faint every single day now,” Avicii wrote in 2011. “And not just today and this tour but from about the first time I mentioned that I felt worn-out… pretty regularly, but I push it back down and chose to not bring it up because there’s nothing I can do about it.”
Entry after entry in his journals shows Avicii trying to cope with his mental struggles through alcohol and drug abuse. His story was full of ups and downs.
Unfortunately, his mental health found more valleys than peaks.
Avicii Describes the Start of His Mental Health Struggles
As a kid, Avicii was often anxious. He was self-conscious about his appearance—especially his teen acne. When his music career took off, he was thrust centerstage, where he performed for thousands of people.
He turned to alcohol to give him an extra boost of confidence. And his drinking became nearly constant. According to Avicii, he threw back drinks regularly to “steady his nerves.”
Avicii’s touring became intense, with as many as 300 gigs in a year. While touring, his drinking was excessive. But Avicii felt he couldn’t slow down, say no, or stop the whirlwind.
The First Crash
In January of 2012, Avicii was rushed to the hospital with severe stomach pain. The doctors discovered pancreatitis. This disease was caused by Avicii’s drinking and his acne medication.
The doctors’ advice: “Stay sober for at least six months. Don’t eat junk food.”
But Avicii didn’t do that.
He admitted, “Of course, I didn’t listen to the majority of the doctors, I listened to the couple who said it was ok if I was careful. I was ignorant and naive and touring the world, still on the never-ending tour – because once you’ve circled it once, guess what? You start right back over again.”
And he started back over again. But Avicii started down another dark path—opioid addiction. He was discharged from the hospital with an oxycodone prescription.
As he reentered his hectic lifestyle, the alcohol and junk food flowed freely. And Avicii started popping pills to deal with the stomach pain.
The Second Crash
In February of 2013, Avicii was rushed to the hospital again. His pancreas was inflamed. Doctors recommended surgery to remove his gallbladder.
But Avicii said he was too busy for surgery. He got more painkillers to manage flare-ups and went back on tour.
The Third Crash
Avicii was forced to deal with his health problems in 2014. His appendix ruptured. He was hospitalized and both his appendix and gallbladder were removed. He left the hospital with more painkiller prescriptions.
His parents tried to wean him off the painkillers later that year. But Avicii escaped to L.A, where he had a personal doctor to prescribe him all the painkillers he wanted.
That winter, Avicii’s stomach had to be pumped twice. He had downed deadly combinations of alcohol, painkillers, and panic disorder meds.
After these incidents, his family and friends staged an intervention.
Success and Relapse: A Common Story for Those Struggling with Mental Health
Avicii went to rehab after this intervention. There, he realized he had been turning to drugs to deal with his stress, depression, and anxiety. When he left rehab, he bought a puppy, traveled with friends, and started meditating regularly.
In March of 2016, he announced he was done. He wanted to leave the stage and focus on his health.
Avicii took the stage for the last time in August that year. He drank, smoked marijuana, and took psychedelic drugs.
Then, in April of 2018, he took a trip with friends to Oman. Shortly before the vacation, he noted, “I’ve been for 10 years thinking I need to fix something in order to be happy/confident but in reality, I know now I only need to ‘exercise’ my brain with meditation and I will be happy, and the rest will follow.”
But it didn’t.
The Final Crash
On the trip to Oman, Avicii began to immerse himself in meditation. He would meditate for hours at a time (rather than the recommended 20-minute sessions).
On April 19, one of his friends called Avicii’s father. The friend was concerned that Avicii was spending entire days meditating, refusing to eat or take shade from the scorching sun.
The next day, on April 20th, 2018, Avicii took his own life.
The Deadly Dance of Mental Health Struggles and Substance Abuse
Avicii’s world-renowned status as a DJ may’ve been rare. But his struggles were not.
More than 41,000 people die from suicide every year.
Mental health concerns and substance abuse are common contributors to suicide. In fact, people who abuse drugs or alcohol are up to 14 times more likely to die by suicide than others.
But your story can be different from Avicii’s.
For information about addiction treatment options for you or a loved one, call 800-405-1685 (Who Answers?) today.