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Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine Marks 7 Years of Sobriety

Best known for hits like “Dog Days Are Over” and “Shake It Out,” indie rock group Florence and the Machine is led by frontwoman Florence Welch. As they came onto the scene in the late 2000s, the group was praised for their sound and lyrics, as well as Welch’s unique voice.

Lady Gaga was once quoted as saying that Welch had “the greatest voice in the world”—high praise coming from the singer-actress who was classically trained in instrumental performance and attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Born in 1986 in London, Welch described herself as an anxious child, and developed coping mechanisms to deal with that anxiety. In an interview with The Guardian, Welch said that, “I learned ways to manage that terror – drink, drugs, controlling food. It was like a renaissance of childhood, a toddler’s self-destruction let loose in a person with grown-up impulses.”

Welch suffered with an eating disorder for a large period of her life, and released the song “Hunger” in 2017 to commemorate and share her struggles. “At 17 I started to starve myself,” the song begins, and she croons in another line that, “I thought love was in the drugs/But the more I took, the more it took away/And I could never get enough.”

In personal essays, Welch has mentioned that addiction and eating disorders run in her family, and that a certain point, she convinced herself that, “I had learned that I was wrong, that I was not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough.”

After finding commercial success with her band in 2009, upon the release of “Dog Days Are Over,” Welch suddenly entered the spotlight in a way that she had not been accustomed to in the past. Florence and the Machine toured for nearly two years straight, with little time to come up for air between performances.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Welch says that it was during this time that she realized she needed to get help for her problem drinking in particular.

“Being an extreme drinker was a huge part of my identity. Music and alcohol are sort of my first two loves. When I stopped, there was this sense that I was letting some ghost of rock history down that I just couldn’t cope anymore. It was monumental. It wasn’t like, ‘I want to be healthy and I need a change of pace.’ It was like, ‘I’m going to die. I need to stop,’” she said.

Now 34 years old, Welch is celebrating seven consecutive years of sobriety, and has a message to others who are going through the fight on their own.

In an Instagram post marking her “sober birthday,” the singer wrote that, “If you are feeling shaky around ED issues, drugs or alcohol, I completely understand. The desire to disassociate is so strong. But please don’t give up. We are going to need you on the other side.”

Welch’s message comes at an important moment in time, when so many around the world are struggling with feelings of isolation and fighting triggers that lead to relapse. As the pandemic continues to affect us in our daily lives, overdose deaths have continued to rise, signifying a great need for support for those who are suffering from addiction or actively trying to recover.

As Welch continues to make beautiful music, she reminds her listeners that they are not alone, and that the struggles of eating disorders and substance abuse are everywhere. After taking years to process her battles and the sadness she endured, Welch’s lyrics tell the story of a woman who overcame—and found a stage where she can share her resilience and provide a guiding light for others.


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