Boston born country star Jo Dee Messina has spoken frankly about her time in a Utah Alcohol Rehab Centre.

The singer's plight was featured in a special on American cable TV network CMT on May 7.
Messina convalesced in as rented cabin at the Sundance Ski Resort outside Salt Lake City in Utah after her rehab.

"When I first got here, I could see these slopes from the rehab centre and people snowboarding and skiing down," Messina revealed to CMT.

"That was kind of depressing. That itself will make you want to drink because you couldn't go anywhere near the slopes. All we could do was watch other people having fun."

Messina spent her time in rehab writing a book That's Right I'm An Addict and a new song My Way Back Home about her recovery.

< Jo Dee Messina

"I think the reason I went public with being in rehab is 'cause it was the last place I think a billion people would expect to see me, including myself," Messina said.

"There's a stigma that goes along with someone who either has a drug problem or is addicted to pain killers or stuff like that. But the stigma is just that: It's a stigma. It's not necessarily fact."

Messina says her manager, Stuart Dill, confronted her in Houston following a rough performance after the 2004 Super Bowl.

She said she wasn't "stumbling drunk," but she acknowledges that she doesn't recall much about the performance either.

"I forgot the words to Stand Beside Me. That's what I can remember," Messina said.

After Dill's confrontation, Messina was on a plane to Utah the next day.

She entered a detox centre for a few days before checking into rehab.

"I thought detox was the wing of a hospital, but it was actually on the psychiatric ward," she said. "You couldn't have anything that could be used as a weapon. They take everything, cells phones, any sharp objects and anything containing alcohol, whether it's perfume, face lotion or nail polish."

Although Messina started singing in bars as a teenager, she says her family didn't drink, and she didn't either.

She said she took her first drink at age 29 when someone offered her a glass of wine after a show. Wine became a crutch and a sleep aid during the next few years, which were tough times both professionally and personally.


After a quick start in 1996 with Top 10 hits Heads, Carolina, Tails, California and You're Not in Kansas Anymore, her singing career stalled, and she nearly filed for bankruptcy in 1997.

She checked herself into a hospital in 1999 to recover from exhaustion.

In 2003, Curb Records rejected an album she loved and released a greatest hits package instead.

And finally, her engagement to long-time tour manager Don Muzquiz ended after much speculation.

"You know sometimes two people together aren't the right match, that's all I can say," she said of her broken relationship. "I could sit here and tell you, 'We were so different.' But the truth of the matter is, we were so alike. I think that was our curse right there. We were so much alike, workaholics and just perfectionists."

Her drinking progressed steadily as her life unravelled, though she says she never hit the hard liquor.

"I didn't drink in the morning. I didn't do shots of whatever," Messina said. "At the end of a hard day, I'd have a glass of wine, and that was my coping device. There were times when I was like, 'OK, I'm not going to drink tonight.' Then, boom, I started moving on to 'OK, I'll have a couple.' You know, then I'm going, 'Wow, can I even stop?"

Messina doesn't blame Muzquiz or Curb Records for her drinking problem.

Instead, she points to her workaholic tendencies.

She said rehab gave her the time to focus on herself and her issues, and she was able to turn to songwriting again for the first time in a long time.


It was where she wrote a song about her experience called My Way Back Home.

"It talks about, you know, I just kind of got lost in the commotion, and I'm really just trying to find my way back home, which is back to who I am and what's important to me and the real person that's inside of me and not the person everyone thinks I should be."

Messina has also written a book, That's Right, I'm an Addict, and she hopes to find a publisher who will release it.

During her outpatient stay, the usually-fit singer returned to her strict diet and exercise regimen, using the steep mountain trails and lower oxygen levels to pound her back into shape.

"It's going to be a good year,' Messina said as plans for a return Australian tour gather steam.

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