Charles Kelley Admits He Was ‘Crushed’ When His Son Started Noticing His Alcohol Addiction
In August of 2022, Kelley entered treatment for an alcohol abuse problem, and in a vulnerable new interview with Gayle King on CBS Mornings, the singer and his wife, Cassie, recall that journey from start to finish.
As Kelley explains, his Lady A bandmates, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood, started realizing he had a problem with alcohol about five years ago, and even once confronted him about the way alcohol was affecting his behavior towards them.
"We would have shows where they're like, 'Hey man, you might have had a little too much to drink that night,'" Kelly says. "I was like, 'Okay, well, has it affected how hard I work? Has it affected the shows?'"
"If I remember correctly, it was more about how I would speak to them when I would drink," Kelley says. "I'd be very dismissive, very quick."
He adds that there were no physical arguments with his bandmates, but he would have "emotional and verbal outbursts."
Not only was alcohol destroying his relationship with his band, but the problems that stemmed from his alcohol use were also seeping into his home life with wife Cassie and their 7-year-old son, Ward.
Kelley admits that when his son started catching on to his issues, he was "crushed."
"Cassie would tell me some stories about little things that Ward would say that I didn't even know he was noticing," the star reveals. "You know, 'Daddy's talking a little funny,' or, 'You and Daddy argue a lot."
The singer's battle with alcohol came to a critical point while the family was vacationing in Greece. Kelley, joined in the interview by Cassie, details a particular night when the couple got into an argument after which Kelley disappeared, turned off his phone and drank with strangers until morning.
After this incident, he realized the degree of his alcohol problem, and he flew straight to rehab — a solution he had previously refused. Cassie, on the other hand, was left to deal with the fallout, and she says she almost called it quits on their marriage.
"At that point, I thought I was fully flying back to the U.S., I was going to meet with a divorce attorney," Cassie says. "That was it."
Thanks to treatment and hard work on both of their parts, the couple made it through, and Kelley is now in recovery. He says he has many tools that help him stay sober, including a breathalyzer-type device which aids in rebuilding trust with his wife and bandmates.
In the end, one of the biggest lessons Kelley learned throughout the experience is the strength of his support system.
"I couldn't do it without her support," he says of his wife. "I feel a lot of love."
Kelley wrote about his journey to sobriety in a solo song, "As Far as You Could," which he calls his "goodbye letter to alcohol."