DIIV’s Zachary Cole Smith Addresses Addiction Discourse

"People are complex and capable of profound change..."

DIIV songwriter Zachary Cole Smith has spoken about the way addiction is viewed through the prism of the media.

The American artist has been through some dark times, with addiction issues almost re-railing his career. Arrested in 2013 alongside then-partner Sky Ferreira, he has been through treatment, and emerged into a period of personal and creative security.

New album ‘Frog In Boiling Water’ is out now, but many reviews have chosen to view the record through the lens of his experiences with addiction. Deciding to offer a counter narrative, Zachary Cole Smith posted a thought-provoking mini-essay on Twitter / x.

Hi – something that’s been on my mind for the last few days in regards to general discourse around our band but especially @pitchfork’s recent review of our record that I wanted to address and then hopefully move on from:

Addiction is a disease. It’s hard to view one’s own past living through the horrors of that disease as a type of scarlet letter that can’t be shaken even after many years of intense self-work in sobriety within a program of recovery.

The past is unchangeable, for sure, and much of any spiritual program of recovery deals in acceptance of that past, alongside a head-on confrontation of the defects of one’s own character which guided its construction.

Still, living today as a sober person, a husband and a parent, it’s difficult to see my own work met with an unwillingness to accept me as the person I’ve worked so diligently the last eight years to become, or an unshakeable desire to revel in the sick person I once was.

It makes me feel sad for my bandmates whose material livelihood is still at the mercy of a public tendency to root discussion of our band around a past that they personally suffered from as well.

It makes me feel sad for addicts who aspire to achieve a beautiful new life outside or in the aftermath of their disease but feel overwhelmed by the crushing weight of the wreckage they may have caused.

Recovery is possible. I’m learning to forgive myself, but it isn’t an easy task. Coming to terms with the shame and guilt of living in active addiction is a part of recovery but addicts, like anyone, are deserving of compassion, both from themselves and from others.

Musicians are people and addicts are people. People aren’t monolithic, one-dimensional caricatures; people are complex and capable of profound change. I wish this wasn’t something I felt I needed to say, but here I am saying it anyway.

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