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Drinking Habits

Tommy Lee Used To Drink 2 Gallons of Vodka Every Day — Now What?

June 11, 2024
19 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
June 11, 2024
19 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
June 11, 2024
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
June 11, 2024
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Reframe Content Team
June 11, 2024
19 min read

Get Inspired Through Tommy Lee’s Journey to Sobriety

  • Many celebrities have opened up about their unhealthy relationship with alcohol, but Tommy Lee’s disclosure of drinking two gallons of vodka every day may top it all. 
  • We can be inspired to quit or cut back on alcohol by learning about Tommy Lee’s commitment to sobriety and being reminded of the harmful effects that come with normalizing excessive drinking.
  • Reframe can help you start your journey to sobriety, no matter what point you’re at now!

Anyone who grew up with heavy metal and the Mötley Crüe knows of famed drummer Tommy Lee. With his long hair, myriad tattoos, and very hearty partying, he embodied the lifestyle of the hard rock musician — until he realized the toll it was taking on his life. While many celebrities have since opened up about their struggles with alcohol, Tommy Lee’s recounting of his days drinking “two gallons of vodka a day” just might top the charts. To follow his journey to sobriety, let’s first take a trip down memory lane back to the ‘80s and the rise  of Tommy Lee’s star. While we may not be Tommy Lee, we can learn from his sobriety and maybe become rock stars of our own journey!

Understanding Tommy Lee, 2 Gallons of Vodka, and When Things Took a Turn

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Tommy Lee rose to stardom as a founding member of the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe, formed in 1981. In 1983, their album Shout at the Devil was released and became the band’s breakthrough to stardom. Mötley Crüe is 
may be best known, however, for their wild lifestyle.  In their autobiography titled The Dirt, the band shared their infamous partying ways and recalled popping handfuls of pills and pounding bottles of booze. Lee also described his habit of downing two gallons of vodka every day. 

Tragically, one night in 1984, some of the band members went for a liquor run that ended up in a fatal accident. One of the members, Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley, died and another, Vince Neil, was sent to jail. Tensions mounted within the band, and a third member, Nikki Sixx, suffered a heroin overdose that almost took his life. In 1990, Lee and other band members noted, “Someone’s going to not wake up one morning. Like, this is getting f–ing ridiculous, right?” They decided to abandon their raucous and risky ways. 

After the band cleaned up their act, their music continued to gain popularity, and they formed their own label. In 1995, Lee married Pamela Anderson after meeting her just 96 hours earlier. Three years later, Lee served a suspended prison sentence due to a domestic altercation with his wife. They divorced, and Lee quit Mötley Crüe to pursue his solo career. He formed Methods of Mayhem and also starred in several TV shows. The band reunited in 2004 and announced their final tour in 2015. In 2019, Lee married actress Brittany Furlan, to whom he’s still married. Although Tommy Lee reports that he’s sober today, he recalls battling with alcohol misuse for the majority of his adulthood. Let's get a clearer picture.

Understanding Tommy Lee’s Alcoholism

“Alcoholism,” or alcohol use disorder (AUD), is characterized by an impaired ability to quit or cut back on alcohol despite the adverse effects it has on our life. Many factors contribute to the risk of developing AUD. For Tommy Lee, the presence of alcohol and other drugs that played such a large part in his hard rock lifestyle simply added to the normalization of his excessive drinking. Other major life events, including the death of a fellow band member and multiple divorces, may have contributed to his drinking habits.

Lee’s struggles with AUD both improved and worsened over the years. He later recalled in a podcast that “It’s easy to fall in love with the way it [alcohol] makes you feel, where it makes you relax, and then all of a sudden you’re like [...] ‘I’m drinking two gallons of vodka a day’?”  Lee reports that he became immune to his excessive drinking, as it became so normal for him and his bandmates. His experience points up the way alcohol is often used as a coping mechanism or “escape”, which can quickly turn into misuse.

During the band’s final tour, Lee shares that he was mostly “drinking out of boredom” — highlighting how excessive drinking can become habitual. All of the consequences of Lee’s long stint of heavy alcohol consumption are not known, but he admits to feeling like his liver was “on crutches.”

Let’s explore other negative effects of excessive drinking, and see what was going on in Tommy Lee’s body.

Consequences of Drinking Vodka Every Day

Drinking vodka every day, especially excessively (like Tommy Lee’s two gallons a day), is detrimental to multiple aspects of life. Negative effects of drinking vodka every day include the following:

  • Physical health effects. In addition to liver damage, alcohol is directly associated with such health conditions as cardiovascular issues, gastrointestinal problems, and neurological damage. If we’re drinking vodka every day, we’re likely to be building our tolerance to it, which means we need to drink more to feel its effect while we increase the risks to our health.
  • Mental health effects. When we drink, alcohol impairs our judgment and inhibitions. These effects increases our risks of dangerous behaviors and alcohol-related accidents. Drinking also temporarily releases our “feel-good” hormones — elevating our mood. However, our mood can dip after drinking, causing more drastic fluctuations. Increased tolerance to drinking vodka every day can cause us to drink more and more alcohol. Ever-increasing quantities of vodka affect the natural levels of dopamine our body produces. As a result, mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety become more common.
  • Social and interpersonal effects. Drinking every day increases the risk of legal issues, as it makes us more susceptible to displays of public intoxication and DUIs as a result of lowered inhibitions and impaired judgment. Drinking every day can also affect our work performance and drain our bank account — leading to financial problems. Excessive drinking impacts not only our own life but the lives of those around us as well. Drinking and thoughts of drinking can occupy the majority of our time and energy, taking away our focus from important personal relationships.

Like Tommy Lee, we open the door to many potential consequences by drinking excessively. Tommy Lee is now sober: how did he go from drinking two gallons of vodka a day to sobriety?

Tommy Lee’s Journey From 2 Gallons of Vodka a Day to Sobriety

The journey to sobriety consists of many different stages and experiences. However, there are three major components in the journey to sobriety.

  1. Recognizing the need for change. Lee and other members of Mötley Crüe recognized that their alcohol misuse was an issue. When Lee first quit drinking and later when he committed to sobriety, he recognized that the need for change was integral to initiating change and accessing treatment.

  2. Receiving treatment and intervention. Lee reports checking into a rehab facility for treatment. Treatments typically include detoxification support, therapy and counseling, and other supportive programs.

  3. Preventing relapse and making lifestyle changes. Aftercare treatment is important for preventing relapses and building a life outside of drinking. Lee attributes the success of his support system to his wife and close friends.

As we can see, the journey to sobriety can be rocky. However, highs and lows teach us a lot about it. What can we take away from Tommy Lee’s story?

What Can We Learn From Tommy Lee’s Story?

Tommy Lee, among many other celebrities, has opened up about his alcohol misuse in order to bring awareness of AUD to a wide audience.

  • Shedding light on the realities of AUD. Many people believe that recovery from AUD involves treatment followed by a life of sobriety. However, Lee’s story reminds us that recovery can involve relapses and working through other challenges. When Lee quit alcohol for the first time, he reported being sober for four years. He shared that his relapse was prompted by being burned out after a tour with Mötley Crüe. He recalled being at home doing “nothing but lounging in the pool and drinking.” When he went sober the second time, he attributed his motivation for recovery to his wife and the desire to improve his health.
  • Not waiting until it’s too late. The details of the detrimental effects of excessive drinking on Lee personally are unclear. However, he shared feeling unwell and concerns about his liver’s health. Excessive drinking is tied directly to health issues as well as to alcohol-related accidents like the one that took his bandmate’s life. If we’re concerned about our alcohol consumption, we don’t have to wait until it becomes a bigger issue to address it.
  • Understanding the importance of support. Social support is important in motivating us and keeping us accountable when things get tough. Lee’s first commitment to sobriety was with the other members of his band, which may have helped them keep each other accountable as they spent so much time together. Lee shared that his second commitment to sobriety was facilitated by his wife, who was a big influence on his decision to become sober. 
  • Challenging societal attitudes. Alcohol is part of our social culture, especially in the entertainment industry. Lee’s openness about his struggles with AUD brings awareness to disorder and challenges society’s normalization of excessive drinking.

Lee’s story can inspire us to start our own journey to sobriety. What lessons can we take with us?

Learning From Tommy Lee’s Journey to Sobriety

Applying Lee’s Lessons to Our Own Journey

Lee went from drinking two gallons of vodka a day to sobriety. The journey and practices he shares can help us navigate our own commitment to a better relationship with alcohol.

  • Develop self-realization. In order to commit to a healthier relationship with alcohol, we need to first acknowledge that there’s an issue. Some signs we can look out for include avoiding responsibilities, not being able to stop drinking, alcohol-related health problems, and experiencing symptoms of withdrawal when cutting back.
  • Seek treatment. Traditional treatment therapies or newer approaches, such as Reframe’s alcohol reduction app and coaching program, can help us develop a healthier relationship with alcohol. Sometimes we may feel like we can handle an issue on our own, and, while this may be true, seeking treatment can be beneficial in learning strategies to support our journey
  • Develop support. Having a support system isn’t necessary for us to recover, however, it can be extremely beneficial. A circle of friend, family, or members of a community we join can motivate us during challenging times and ensure we stay on track. 
  • Prevent relapse. Relapse prevention strategies are part of a successful aftercare plan. Relapses are common in recovery, but learning to identify our triggers and navigate them helps us avoid falling back into old habits. 
  • Intervene early. Nipping an issue in the bud helps minimize the damage.

Among the takeaways from Tommy Lee’s story are these: 
It’s never too late to commit to sobriety and a healthier life and, like Lee, no matter what our current relationship with alcohol is, we can recover by committing to change. We can become the rock stars of our own journey!

Summary FAQs

1. What factors affected Tommy Lee, his vodka consumption, and his alcohol use disorder?

Excessive drinking and partying were a big part of his hard rock lifestyle. Tommy Lee reported that he fell in love with the way alcohol made him feel and noted that at one point he was drinking out of boredom.

2. Is Tommy Lee sober today?

Tommy Lee reports that he remains sober to this day.

3. Is drinking a pint of vodka every day a lot?

Yes. Moderate consumption guidelines are one standard drink or less per day for women and two standard drinks or less per day for men. One standard drink is about 1.5 ounces. A pint (16 ounces) is more than 10 times a standard drink. 

4. Did Tommy Lee drink a gallon of vodka a day?

Tommy Lee reports drinking not one but two gallons of vodka a day during the peak of his vodka consumption habit. With that amount, which totals 256 ounces or 16 pints, Lee was consuming more than 85 times the moderate consumption guidelines for men of two 1.5-ounce alcoholic drinks or less per day.

5. What are the consequences of drinking vodka every day?

Excessive drinking leads to physical health problems such as liver damage, mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and societal consequences such as public intoxication and DUIs.

6. What can we learn from Tommy Lee’s journey to sobriety?

Tommy Lee’s journey to sobriety shines a light on the normalization of excessive drinking and the detrimental effects it has on all areas of our lives. 

7. How did Tommy Lee stop drinking two gallons of vodka per day?

Tommy Lee received professional treatment for his alcohol use disorder and attributed his recovery to his commitment to change and his support system at home. 

Understand the Impact of Excessive Drinking on the Reframe App!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app today!

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