He’s one of social media’s biggest enigmas. He’s got a cult following with more twitter traffic than the world’s biggest commuter line at rush hour. He’s the one and only Secret Drug Addict.
Having worked at the apex of the British music industry in the 90s, Secret Drug Addict (SDA) has since gone on to be very open about his adventures. His Twitter avatar is suitably clandestine but he has appeared on numerous podcasts to talk about his fascinating life and his journey as someone in recovery for drugs and alcohol. Ever honest, ever charismatic, and always with self-deprecation in his tone, SDA never fails to get people to listen and take note, but what does the man behind the balaclava listen to in the podcast world, and what was his introduction to this world?
SDA: I’m actually a bit embarrassed about it but I’m quite late to podcasting. Any spare time I’ve had in the past was spent listening to records, friends would send me links saying, “You’ve got to listen to this podcast, you’ll love it!” – but I would just never bother. Initially I suppose I just couldn’t get my head around the idea of just listening to somebody talking when I could be listening to music instead, it’s like why would I want to listen to someone just chatting about something when I could be listening to the new Sleaford Mods record or some rare reissued album by Funkadelic? But, as my Secret Drug Addict profile grew online I started getting invites from people to be on their podcasts and initially I just said no to all of them but I kept getting asked so I thought maybe I should actually make an effort to check a few out to see what they were all about and the more I listen to the more I found that I thought were actually pretty good.
One of my favourite pods that I’m listening to at the moment is The Rialto Report, which is about New York during the golden age of pornography, its a really well made series that I highly recommend checking out if you don’t already know it.
If I’m being honest though it wasn’t really until I listened to Stay Free: The Story of The Clash with Chuck D and Dolly Parton’s America (which btw is my favourite ever podcast) that I really “got” podcasting and now I actually listen to far more podcasts than I do albums. Most of the podcasts I tend to listen to are probably about music, football or sex but weirdly some of my favourite pods are ones that I don’t even really have any actual interest in what they’re about but they’re just made by people who you can tell have a real love for what they’re doing. The sound quality is absolutely shocking, the editing is terrible but you can hear their passion and for me I think if you’re doing a podcast that’s the most important thing.
PB: As alluded to, SDA is always receiving offers to take part in a podcast, he’s become a go-to guest on a range of subjects, such as addiction, drugs, sex, rock and roll (of course), music and activism. Due to his colourful life in the world of 90s Brit Pop, and having worked with the biggest bands of the day, it’s no wonder he’s such a desired guest.
SDA: I honestly can’t remember all the podcasts I’ve been on. Once I’ve done a podcast I tend to just completely put it out of my mind as I’m so critical of myself that I don’t like to think about them or even listen to them once they’re done as all I’ll do is find faults in them. Although saying that a few that I can remember being on are Stop And Search, Say Why To Drugs, We Are The Stigma, Rehab Confidential and I’ve literally just done one with the Lions Barber Collective so that one is still fresh in my mind. It’s always nice to be invited onto someone’s podcast. If I’m honest I can’t really think of a better way to spend an hour or two of my time than drinking coffee and chatting. I always thought I was a quiet and shy person but since I stopped doing drugs I’ve realised just how much I actually like hanging out and talking to people.
PB: Even though his moniker suggests he’s a closed book, Secret Drug Addict often addresses the most sensitive of subjects. Having risen to the ranks as Twitter royalty, SDA began to take part in what’s known as a ‘Twitter Takeover’ – the idea being that Twitter profiles with a large following lend their account to someone in efforts to help raise awareness to important issues. For quite some time SDA has Twitter taken-over the Welsh international football player Neville Southall’s account, allowing him to tweet about many subjects and forging many allies. The self-publishing world of social media and podcasts has an appeal to SDA’s way of working.
SDA: For a start you’re not reliant on commissioners or editors or restricted by the way they want to tell a story or approach a subject. All you need is an interest in a subject and a microphone and you can literally make a podcast about whatever you want, however you want. I think there’s something quite punk rock in that.
I actually find it pretty easy being open about my life, especially around my experiences with addiction and mental health. There’s nothing I’ve done and nothing that’s happened to me that I’m secretive about or that I’m embarrassed or ashamed to discuss with someone. I personally find freedom in not allowing myself to be held hostage by the shame or embarrassment of my experiences. I’ve also found out that by being open and honest about my struggles I’ve actually indirectly helped other people who were struggling with their own issues. I’ve honestly lost count of the amount of times that after hearing me on a podcast or seeing something I’ve tweeted or even just meeting me out socially at like a gig or a pub and after asking me why I’m not drinking alcohol someone has then got in touch and me asked if they can have a chat about their own drinking or drug taking with me.
PB: The big question is: with such a big social media following, and with cult status secured, not to mention a go-to guest for podcasts… will we see Secret Drug Addict dip his own toe into the world of podcasting?
SDA: Actually it’s funny you ask that because I’ve actually had some discussions recently about maybe doing something. So far most of the conversations have generally been around doing one that’s basically an extension of the Secret Drug Addict stuff I do on Twitter and Instagram, so essentially something in and around drugs, addiction, sex work and mental health stuff, but because of my background of working in the music industry a couple have been about maybe doing something that’s either music or pop culture related. So far nothing has grabbed me yet and if I do one it has to be something that I’m 100% into and passionate about rather than just something I’m doing for the sake of it, but it’s definitely something I’m interesting in pursuing so if anyone out there has any ideas or wants to collaborate and do something with me then feel free to drop me a DM on Twitter and we can have a chat about it.