March 30, 2007
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3DG doc aims to help addicts
By -- For JAM! Music


Three Days Grace

A 30-minute documentary about Three Days Grace frontman Adam Gontier's addiction to painkillers and ultimate recovery will air on MuchMusic April 2, at 9 p.m. (ET).

In "Behind The Pain," the Toronto-based singer, whose rock band has sold more than 2 million albums, talks openly about his struggle, and his wife and bandmates talk about what it's like to watch someone they love slowly go through a drastic change in personality and lifestyle.

"I knew Adam was using," his wife, Naomi, says in the doc, "and I knew there was s problem. I didn't know the extent....and that's what scared me."

"It is the worst feeling possible. I feel really really helpless," says Gontier to the camera.

In "Behind The Pain," Gontier admits to "severe drug use" and reveals he was using OxyContin, what he refers to as "a synthetic sort of heroin." At his lowest point, before he checked himself into Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Heath (CAMH) in 2005, he says "I was taking 10 to 20 80-milligrams of OxyContin a day."

Gontier wrote about the anguish, the disgust, the self-loathing, the emptiness, the struggle and the survival on Three Days Grace's second and most recent album, "One-X," which to date has sold 650,000 units in the U.S. and 158,000 in Canada, according to figures from Canadian record label Sony BMG.

In the song "Pain," he sings, "I'd rather feel pain than nothing at all."

In "Animal I Have Become," he pleads "Somebody get me through this nightmare. I can't control myself."

And in "Gone Forever," one of the album's last tracks, he sings, "I feel so much better now that you're gone forever."

But while writing that album as he went through recovery was a personal catharsis, after Three Days Grace hit the road behind "One-X," Gontier got the idea to give back and try and help others.

Now clean, last year while still performing regular concerts, Gontier bravely and admirably launched the Three Days To Change Tour, visiting treatment centres, shelters, group homes and detention centres across North America, including CAMH.

Gontier, drummer Neil Sanderson, bassist Brad Walst and guitarist Barry Stock played a short free concert, then Gontier would speak about wrestling with and overcoming his own addiction (he actually doesn't name his drug of choice). He then fielded questions from the audience, comprised of addicts and those in recovery.

"It's therapeutic in a way to do it and it definitely reminds me of where I was and where I could be again if I was to not be careful," says Gontier, who tried to do Narcotics Anonymous on the road but decided this worked better for him because of his transient lifestyle. "It's the same kind of thing because you go in and try to talk about the same kind of issues. So it is a good way to get everything out."

He has now given about a dozen talks.

"The whole band did the first one," Gontier remembers. " It was in Utah and it was a pretty big place. There was a lot of people there. I was nervous a little bit at first because I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but it went really well."

Since then, he says, they have all gone well.

"The one that stood out for me is I went into this place and it was all black kids and they were all into hip hop, so they had no idea who the band was," Gontier says of the visit to this small town in Kentucky.

"But in these situations, it's not so much about the music; it's more about what I'm trying to say and the message. So it was a little bit intimidating because I had no idea what these kids would think. They were kinda like, 'Why is this guy here? Don't know his music anyway, so why do we really care?' So they warmed up to me really quick, enjoyed the songs that I played, and just opened up. It was very cool."

As witnessed at the CAMH Three Days To Change talk, some people who go up to the mic to ask Gontier a question, expect him to have the answers, even bordering on medical advice. Is he careful how he responds?

"I don't really think about what I'm saying. I just say what comes naturally at the time," he says. "But as for the medical type questions, those are hard to answer. I just like to talk about the situation and just give a little bit of inspiration."

The "Behind The Pain," documentary includes some of the CAMH footage, plus interviews and live performances.

"It's more about me being on the road and going through it," says Gontier. "It includes some of these shows, mainly the CAMH one, and just some hand-held camera stuff that I took on the road. They're kind of confessional tapes."

So what is Gontier's objective with "Behind The Pain," what is his point?

"If it's going to air, a lot of kids and a lot of people will see it and the whole message behind it is that there is hope, and you can go on and do something that you love to do, no matter what kind of situation you're in," explains Gontier.

"That's what I hope to get out of it, that maybe people who haven't even talked about it yet that are sitting at home, and younger people who maybe don't know how to deal with the situation, get an idea of how to deal with it." More Lowdown stories




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