Travis Barker Believes Surviving a Plane Crash Helped Him Quit Prescription Drugs

Travis Barker is opening up about the life-altering plane crash that he barely survived in September 2008.

The 45-year-old Blink-182 drummer spoke to Men’s Health in an interview published Monday about coming to terms with his survivor’s guilt he felt after being one of only two survivors of the crash that killed four.

He also shared how he was motivated to kick prescription drugs when his friend Adam ‘DJ AM’ Goldstein, the only other survivor, died a year later of a prescription drug overdose.

‘People are always like, ‘Did you go to rehab?” Barker recounted. ‘And I [say], ‘No, I was in a plane crash.’ That was my rehab. Lose three of your friends and almost die? That was my wake-up call. If I wasn’t in a crash, I would have probably never quit.’

Late at night on September 19, 2008, Barker boarded a private jet in South Carolina to head back to Los Angeles following a show, while accompanied by Goldstein, his security guard Charles ‘Che’ Still, and his assistant Chris Baker.

As the small plane was attempting to take off, it suffered a blow out from one of the tires, causing the craft to overshoot the runway, burst through the airport’s fence and over the nearby highway, and finally crash into the embankment on the side of the road.

The pilot, Sarah Lemmon, and the co-pilot, James Bland, were killed within minutes from smoke inhalation and burns as the plane burst into flames on impact, according to the Chicago Tribune. Still and Baker were also killed on impact.

Barker and Goldstein were able to escape from the burning plane via an emergency exit over the wing, but they were both engulfed in flames as they slid down the wing and were covered in burning jet fuel.

Goldstein was able to extinguish himself and then helped put out the flames on Barker by smothering them with his own clothing.

The ordeal left the two survivors with second- and third-degree burns, requiring skin grafts.

Barker had third-degree burns over 65 percent of his body and had to spend three months in the hospital while having 26 surgeries to repair the damage.

 

He recalled in the interview how he’d been using ‘an excessive amount of weed’ leading up to the crash and how he had been abusing prescription drugs.

‘People are always like, ‘Did you go to rehab?” Barker recounted. ‘And I [say], ‘No, I was in a plane crash.’ That was my rehab. Lose three of your friends and almost die? That was my wake-up call. If I wasn’t in a crash, I would have probably never quit.’

Goldstein died a year after the crash of a prescription drug overdose, which further emboldened the drummer to quit.

After he got out of the hospital, Barker and Goldstein would go to support group’s to recover from the trauma, but they eventually became ‘each other’s therapists.’

With the only other survivor now dead, he radically reassessed his drug use.

‘So it was just him and me. When he left, I was like, ‘Oh, f***. I’m the only one in my club. It’s just me.’ And I find my ways to deal with it,’ he said.

Because he was prescribed opioids after the crash his tolerance to the drugs rose, so he ended up flushing the pills down, ‘including stuff that I really needed.’

In the wake of the crash, Barker, who was already afraid of flying, couldn’t set foot in a plane again and began mental health issues and difficulty sleeping.

‘I was dark… I couldn’t walk down the street. If I saw a plane [in the sky], I was determined it was going to crash, and I just didn’t want to see it,’ he said.

He added that it took time for him to get distance from the crash.

‘The closer I was to it, it felt like I was closer to the bad stuff than I am to the good stuff. I felt closer to the experience of trying to escape, [to] being in an accident and being burned, trying to grab my friends from a burning plane.

‘That haunted me for a long time, and as long as I was closer to that than this good stuff, I was always thinking about that. Now it’s been so many years, it’s getting easier for me. There are days where I’ll wake up and never think about it,’ he continued.

More than a decade after he survived the plane crash, Barker still hopes to fly again, if only as a form of therapy.

‘I have to,’ he said. ‘I want to make the choice to try and overcome it.’

The musician added that he yearns for the normal, everyday feeling of returning home from a plane trip.

‘If I do it, and the angels above help me in my travels and keep me safe, I would like to come back and [tell them], ‘Hey, I just flew here, and then I flew home. And everything was fine.’ I have to tell them, because I almost left them,’ Barker said, adding, ‘That’s a perfect day.’

To commemorate his near-death experience, Barker had the words ‘Survivor’s guilt’ tattooed on the insides of his elbows earlier this month.

Earlier this month, he added some more ink to his already covered body when his girlfriend Kourtney Kardashian inked ‘I love you’ on his arm.

However, he opted not to speak about her for his newest interview.

‘I mean, it’s everywhere,’ he said.

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