The Grim Moment Nikki Sixx Hit Rock Bottom

It was December 23, 1987, and Nikki Sixx was in the depths of addiction. That night, not unlike most of them at the time, he was "shooting up between snorts of cocaine and shots of booze," he recalled in the Los Angeles Times. The bassist, main songwriter, and founding member of the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe nearly died that day — was in fact clinically dead for two minutes — but survived thanks to a shot of adrenaline administered by paramedics.

It wasn't Nikki Sixx's near-death experience in 1987, but an episode when he was unable to score drugs for a few days that he remembers as the time he hit rock bottom. "My darkest moment was not the moment that a lot of people talk about ... which was my near-fatal overdose, or the one after that, when I woke up with a needle in my arm," he recalled on a September 2017 episode of his radio show "Sixx Sense." "It was about halfway through that year when I knew I couldn't get out." After a day and a half without heroin, in which Sixx began to have withdrawals and was in "a lot of pain," his dealer showed up and he once again started using. "I wish I had the information that if I just rode it out another week, I could have broken the cycle," he said.

Addiction began early

Nikki Sixx was born Frank Carlton Serafino Feranna Jr. in December 1958 in San Jose, California. After his father left when he was a toddler, he bounced back and forth between living with his mother and his grandparents. When he was still very young — just 6 years old — his stepfather gave him marijuana and alcohol. "Once that pot and whisky hit my system, my mind went KABOOM and my whole world changed," Sixx recounted in his autobiography "The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star." "At that point, everything in my life became about chasing that feeling," he later added.

When Sixx moved to Los Angeles and formed Mötley Crüe with singer Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars, and drummer Tommy Lee in 1981, he not only found like-minded friends but the band's eventual success meant he and the other members had easy access to whatever they wanted. "From the outside looking in, I was living the dream," Sixx recalled in 2017. "But in reality, I was in the throes of a disease I couldn't control, addicted to heroin." The band's drug and alcohol issues were just one of many controversies surrounding Mötley Crüe over the group's long history. Thankfully, Sixx and the other members of the band are now in recovery, but the road there wasn't easy.

Road to recovery

Nikki Sixx's near-fatal overdose wasn't the only brush with death he experienced amid his addiction. He once wrapped his Porsche around a telephone pole and had to undergo reconstructive surgery afterward. Yet, for Sixx, the moment when he hit rock bottom wasn't almost dying but instead centered around an inescapable feeling of being stuck in his addiction, as if he was physically restrained. "I didn't have a lot of information — I got my information from drug dealers, prostitutes, strippers, and the alternative underworld," he recalled on his radio show.

It wasn't until 2001 when Sixx finally got sober, a journey he's continuing today. He has also become a recovery advocate. "Sobriety gives you a chance to be strong yet also to do the next right thing," he wrote on Facebook in July 2023 after being sober for 22 years. "I don't want a pat on the head or a good job Nikki. I would love to just pass this BEAUTIFUL message on to those in NEED of a positive program (AA) and the message of LOVE. For those still suffering there is hope. I am a work in progress. I still have work to do but I try to mitigate my life one day at a time. I love you. Love yourself back too. God bless."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).