Charles Kelley Opens Up About Sobriety & Admits He Was “Scared To Death” Of Rehab In Brave Tell-All Interview

“I felt literally like this was kind of the lowest point of my life,” Charles Kelley shared in a brave new interview.

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Melinda Lorge

Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Music Mayhem, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.

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Posted on May 10, 2023

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Charles Kelley; Photo Provided by CBS Mornings/YouTube

Lady A’s Charles Kelley is ready to detail his recent battle with alcohol and his current path to sobriety. 

The country singer, and one-third of the GRAMMY award-winning trio Lady A, opened up about his painful struggles with substance abuse during a raw and emotional tell-all interview with CBS Mornings.

Watch Charles Kelley’s Brave, Tell-All Interview About His Sobriety Journey Below

During the candid discussion, Kelley recalled the moment he knew his alcoholism not only affected his wife, Cassie, but also the couple’s 7-year-old son, Ward, calling the realization “crushing.”

“Cassie would tell me some stories about little things that Ward would say that I didn’t even know he was noticing,” Kelley tells TV personality and co-host Gayle King. “You know, like, ‘Daddy’s talking a little funny,’ or you know, ‘Daddy and you, y’all argue a lot.’”

“That crushed me,” he said. “Little things like that just he’s the most important thing in my life.”

Charles Kelley; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Charles Kelley; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

“The Lowest Point Of My Life”

That was the moment Charles Kelley hit the “lowest point of my life” and knew he had to make a change.

“I had finally hit what I felt rock bottom and I even told Cassie, just the thought of maybe not coming home and living, being able to walk into my house and, like, hug her and hug and kiss my boy, was the first real heartbreak I’ve ever felt in my life,” Kelley explained. “Cause I was like ‘oh my gosh’ and that was kind of an interesting thing to kind of grasp with. I was like ‘I’m 40 years old and I just had my first heartbreak,’ and it was like, ‘I know what it feels like now.’ It’s a physically feeling and I felt literally like this was kind of the lowest point of my life.”

@cbsmornings

WEDNESDAY: Charles Kelly of the country music band Lady A tells Gayle King about his journey to sobriety and how it changed his relationship with his wife and son. #news #ladya #countrymusic

♬ original sound – CBS Mornings

Cassie Reached A Breaking Point, Planned To Meet With Divorce Attorney

For Cassie, who joined in on the conversation, the breaking point of her marriage with Kelley, came during a trip to Greece. At the time, her famous husband had disappeared overnight, leaving eight of his friends worried and searching for him. 

“Basically, we had gotten into an argument, and I just turned my phone off in the middle of nowhere and just took off and stayed up drinking with all these random people I didn’t know,” Kelley said, describing the scary trip. 

“I never went to sleep,” Cassie chimed in, adding. “The next morning, I said, ‘You need help. You have to deal with this.’ And he said he knew, and he made a plan with his manager, and he flew directly from Greece to treatment. But at that point, I thought I was fully flying back to the US. I was going to meet with a divorce attorney. That was it.’

Charles Kelley Entered Rehab, Admits He Was “Scared To Death”

He later detailed that he checked into rehab for a month and he was very “scared.”

“I mean, I’ll admit, I went to a rehab facility for a month and Oh my gosh. I was scared to death,” Charles Kelley admitted. “I’d had several people and several therapists suggest it, and I said, no, I’m I’ll Never, ever go into a rehab facility. I was like, that’s for people that wake up in the morning and they’re pouring up.”

Charles Kelley; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Charles Kelley; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Cassie Called Charles’ Battle With Alcoholism A “Family Disease”

But Cassie chose to stay and fight for her husband and for her son, as she now calls Kelley’s battle with alcoholism a “family disease.” 

“One thing that I was shocked about when he was in rehab, and I went out there for family week, and one of the first messages you receive is ‘You’re going to have to do just as much work here,’” Cassie explained of her role in Kelley’s journey. 

She added, “I remember being so mad thinking, ‘You did this, and now I have to do all this work too?’ But the truth is that they call it the family disease of alcoholism, and it affects every person in that family system. So I could have chosen not to do the work, but then I have to live with the way I’ve been affected and unhealed. So whether Charles and I were in a marriage or not, whether I saw him again for the rest of my life, I still had to deal with what I had gone through.”

Of staying with Kelley, she says, “I think ultimately when I thought about, well, we have a seven-year-old who is either going to be in my home all the time, or he’s going to be half the time in a home with his dad, where I have no idea what’s happening in that environment. And in order for me to take myself out of his life every day, it never got to be that bad until it just is.” 

“I’m So Proud Of Him,” Cassie Admitted

Despite all of that, Cassie says she’s proud of her husband for turning a new leaf and getting the help he needed. 

“It’s not easy to stay connected and to just put your head down and do the work because it is a lot of work,” she shared through a stream of tears. “And because he keeps showing up every day, I get to keep showing up every day, and our family gets to be intact. So I’m proud of him.”

In January of 2023, Kelley, who admitted that he had tried to quit alcohol years prior, having visited a rehab facility for a month, celebrated 6-months of sobriety. 

He posted about the milestone in his Instagram stories, writing, “Just celebrated six months sober and grateful for all of you sharing your stories as well.”

“Hey everybody, just wanted to wish you all a Happy 2023, may this be the best year yet,” Kelley added in the clip.”My wife [Cassie] reminded me actually a couple of days ago that I’d hit my six-month sobriety mark. Woo-hoo, couldn’t have done it without her above all my bandmates, so much support, God. Gosh, I just wanted to say just the comments and the shares from my song ‘As Far As You Could’ have been just amazing.”

Charles Kelley and Cassie Kelley – CBS Mornings
Charles Kelley and Cassie Kelley – CBS Mornings

Attends Group Meetings And Has Therapy Sessions With Lady A Bandmates

On his road to recovery, Kelly now frequently attends group meetings with other alcoholics, has a case manager, takes part in therapy sessions with his bandmates, and religiously uses a device similar to a breathalyzer every morning to check his alcohol levels. 

“I go to a lot of group meetings with other alcoholics, and I’ve got a case manager I mean I’m not even ashamed to admit it. I’ve got this little device I blow in every morning and every night. And it’s not even for me, it’s for my wife, it’s for the band, it’s for everyone else to know,” he bravely shared. “So slowly but surely that has built the trust back that eventually I think that won’t be a necessity.”

Now that he’s on the other side of his battle, he says, “What I’ve learned is there are degrees of alcoholics. I think that’s one of the things that I want to share. Just because you’re not living on the street or you’re not waking up in a bush, like some stories you may hear, it can get there and it can get there really easily. No one that starts drinking just starts at the top. It’s just this gradual thing.”

Lady A; Photo by Andrew Wendowski
Lady A; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Postponed Lady A Tour, Return To The Road

Lady A, which includes bandmates, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood, postponed their tour last August to allow Kelley time to get sober. Now the band is back on the road, having re-opened their headlining tour, The Request Line Tour, on April 14, with two back-to-back sold-out shows at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

“As Far As You Could”

Additionally, Charles Kelley also recently released a new piano-driven ballad called “As Far As You Could,” which serves as a goodbye letter to alcohol. Co-written and produced with Haywood and Jimmy Robbins, the track details the struggles Kelley faced during his alcohol addiction and his decision to put down the bottle for good. 

Cause you took me high / but you sure as hell brought me down / you said goodbye… But I’m gonna see you around / and to tell the truth / I thought I never would / but it’s time I finally put you down for good / cause you’ve taken me as far as you could,” Kelley sings on the chorus.

“It just makes me feel grateful how close I came to losing it all. And I think the hard thing is to know how much it affected Cassie the most in my band and the people around me and how much it emotionally wrecked them for a while. I can’t say I’m sorry enough, and it’s just going to take time to rebuild that,” Kelley shared.  

If you or someone you know is experiencing a problem with alcohol, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) hotline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Music Mayhem, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.

See more posts from Melinda Lorge