Jack Antonoff Revealed How His Experience With Grief Stopped Him From Doing Drugs

Warning: Discussion of drug and alcohol abuse.

Jack Antonoff shared how a harrowing experience with grief led him to stop doing drugs.

jack in a suit throwing a peace sign
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In an interview with Apple Music's Zane Lowe on Tuesday, the three-time consecutive Producer of the Year and Non-Classical Grammy winner sat down for a heart-to-heart about music, his band Bleachers, and working with major artists like Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey.

zane and jack walking outside under umbrellas
Apple Music

At Electric Lady Studios in New York City — a musical landmark where legendary albums have been recorded, from David Bowie's Young Americans and Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland to Taylor's folklore and Frank Ocean's Blonde — Jack recalled an experience from his past that changed his perspective on drug use forever.

jack and zane in casual attire sitting across from each other in the recording studio
Apple Music

According to Jack, he experimented with drugs while he was 18 years old, touring with his band Steel Train while still grieving the death of his younger sister, Sarah, who died of brain cancer at 13 years old.

"We were touring a lot, and I was obviously just so fucked up emotionally that I took a whole bunch of mushrooms one night with some friends, and I completely freaked out," Jack remembered. "I completely lost my mind."

jack in a leather jacket and hoodie at an event
Jason Mendez / Getty Images

Jack continued. "And I think it was a combination of how much I took and the grief and the long story short is I was so fucked up from that experience that to this day, I feel allergic [to drug use]."

closeup of jack in the recording studio
Apple Music

Jack admitted that while he may have "a drink or two" still, the bad experience with mushrooms helped him recognize, "I never wanted to be out of control again."

closeup of him holding his glasses at an event
Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic

"I'm grateful that I made that stupid mistake because a lot of my friends struggled," Jack said. "I know a lot of people who struggled and continue to struggle. I got lucky that my rock bottom was more one that was mixing psychedelics and grief and not needles and fast cars and whatnot."

  Apple Music
Apple Music

Elaborating on grief, Jack described how "it's really weird when you are confronted with mortality because no one talks about it."

"I think it's harder than ever because now we culturally decided that now we talk about grief — now we talk about depression," referencing the commercialization of grief and that he learned there are more TikTok videos made about domestic abuse than beauty products.

jack at a keyboard with a microphone, wearing a leather jacket, engaged in producing
Nbc / Paula Lobo / NBC via Getty Images

Nonetheless, Jack is fortunate that people are trying to discuss challenging topics, but it can make grief feel "isolating."

"I think that words like grief and trauma and depression are so commonly used right now that we almost need new words for people who are really… down there because there's depression and then there's not leaving the house," he explained.

closeup of him
Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images for The Recording Academy

For him, the moment he recognized that people around him had moved on from the death of his sister Sarah while he remained grieving was an eye-opening moment.

  Variety / Variety via Getty Images
Variety / Variety via Getty Images

"I don't blame anyone, but when life really carried on, and I was still there, I was still in grief town, and everyone just moves on, and life does carry on, which is beautiful," Jack said.

closeup of jack talking in the studio
Apple Music

"You really got to fucking drag yourself into reality, and it's not only the hardest work in the world, but it's also so sad because to re-enter reality is to also leave some stuff in the past."

jack and 3 friends gathered at a booth posing for a photo
Nina Westervelt / Variety via Getty Images

It's fascinating to hear how the mind behind the production of projects by St. Vincent, Lorde, and Taylor's re-recorded albums processes grief and confronting their darkest moments. It's obvious why the music connects with the audience on a personal level.

jack, taylor swift, and boygenius holding grammys
Frederic J. Brown / AFP via Getty Images

Watch Jack's full interview with Zane Lowe here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and find more resources here.