Al Jourgensen's Guide To Drugs
The Ministry man’s stared death in the face, not to mention financial and family ruin. Now free from his heroin addiction, he shares the highs and extreme lows of an 18-year trip.
Al Jourgensen isn’t just known for taking things to the extreme musically, but physically too. Of his 57 years on this planet, he spent 18 of those as a junkie while smoking, drinking, snorting and injecting almost every other substance known to man as he travelled around the world with his industrial wrecking machine, Ministry. Now, he’s coming up on 13 years clean after following the advice of late bandmate Mike Scaccia: “Dude, just do shit until it makes you sick.” Al eventually kicked his heroin addiction because he lost everything. “I was penniless, broke, done. Everyone disowned me. I think Paul [Barker, Ministry bassist from 1986 to 2003] was auditioning singers. They pretty much knew I was gonna die; everyone distanced themselves from me. I got a divorce, I was estranged from my kid... I pawned off everything I owned and that was it. I’ve never looked back.” Having seen life from both sides of the needle, then, and back making music with the intriguingly named Surgical Meth Machine, we asked Al about his experiences with drugs. Hold on tight…
“I had my first cigarette at 10 years old and was smoking a pack a day by the time I was 15. It’s the worst drug in the world – and it is a drug, in the most insidious way. It’s like coke as far as I’m concerned. Nicotine addiction isn’t like an opiate addiction where you really feel it when you don’t have it; nicotine you keep doing because it’s there. When I finally go and the doctors poke around my body wearing hazmat suits, they’re gonna find the worst thing of all was the cigarettes. It’s even easier with e-cigs. If I smoke over a pack, I have my e-cigarette, so I’m actually getting more nicotine than I was before!”
“During my 18 years as a junkie, alcohol was not really part of the picture. I’d drink some Bushmills whisky, but I’d drop a hit of acid in it and make it a party in a bottle. Then my liver went and I got these ulcers where I started bleeding; I was throwing up blood every day and it was from the alcohol. Then the ulcers exploded and I died again – for the third time I was clinically dead and I had to be resurrected [Al’s first brush with the Reaper was a drug overdose on New Year’s Eve 1992]. I’m fucking Lazarus on steroids now. I still drink, but I haven’t had hard liquor in years. I got in a fight with a biker gang at a bar because they bought me shots and I wouldn’t drink ’em. Not drinking was not beneficial to my health that night!”
“This is one thing that old Uncle Al’s never been into. You have to remember, having a junkie’s mentality, you want instant gratification, so I used the needle for 18 years. The whole pillpopping shit is the stupidest fucking thing in the world. If you have to wait an hour, an hour and a half to figure out if you’re gonna enjoy yourself that night... what a dumb drug, man!”