Former One Direction Singer Liam Payne Details Struggle with Alcohol and Pills During the Boy Band’s Peak

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Los Angeles, CA – He was part of one of the most popular singing groups of all time, but Liam Payne says fame drove him to misuse alcohol and drugs and to even think about suicide.

Now sober “for just over a month,” Payne has revealed a years-long struggle that began after he and his four bandmates shot to fame with the boy band One Direction. A worldwide sensation at just 16, Payne used pills and alcohol to face the pitfalls of fame.

Muse Treatment in Los Angeles

“It was really, really, really severe,” Payne has told an interviewer. “It was a problem.”

Although Payne developed his addiction as an internationally famous celebrity, his story may be familiar to the many addicts who struggle anonymously. Payne used drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism for the enormous pressure he encountered as a teen; others also use it to deal with their depression or other emotional and psychological disorders.

Muse Treatment, a network of alcohol and drug treatment centers in the Los Angeles area, sees this hundreds of times a day. It’s known as a co-occurring disorder when drug addiction is merely a symptom of an underlying disorder. Muse treats co-occurring disorders in sync with each other, realizing that unless the underlying problem is dealt with, the risk increases that the addict will relapse into old habits and take up substance use again.

Payne’s story begins in 2010, when he and his One Direction cohorts – Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik – competed on the TV show “The X Factor.” For the next five years, they were one of the best-selling boy bands of all time. The group disbanded in 2015.

“The day the band ended, I was like, ‘Thank the Lord,’” Payne said. “I know a lot of people are going to be mad at me for saying that, but I needed to stop or it would kill me.”

Payne said his alcohol use became a problem during the band’s frequent world tours. It was a time of enormous pressure and isolation.

“In the band . . . the best way to secure us, because of how big we’d got, was just to lock us in our rooms. What’s in the room? A mini-bar,” he said. “So, at a certain point I thought, I’m just going to have a party-for-one and that seemed to carry on for many years of my life. Then you look back at how long you’ve been drinking and you’re like, ‘Jesus Christ, that’s a long time.’”

"It was wild,” he recalled, “but it was the only way you could get the frustration out."

Outside the hotel room, there was nothing but work – no other outlet between performances than the booze waiting for him when he got back. "We were always locked in a hotel room at night," he said. "Then it would be a car, hotel room, stage, sing, locked. So, it looked like they pulled the dust cloth off and let us out for a minute and then back underneath it."

He continued: “Don't get me wrong, we had the best time ever, but . . . you don't realize you have a choice at that point.”

For those who choose to find a new way of coping with the pressures of life, Muse Treatment offers comprehensive treatment of alcohol dependence or other substance use disorders. Programs include detox, residential and outpatient rehab, sober living homes and follow-up care. For help or more information, call 800-426-1818.

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