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Mother of Guns N’ Roses drummer writes tell-all

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Deanna Adler, mother of original Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler, says she wouldn’t wish what she’s been through on anyone. Her long-awaited book, titled “Sweet Child Of Mine: How I Lost My Son to Guns N’ Roses” (Monarch Publishing; $22.99), was released last week and offers a brutally frank account of the decades she spent trying to help her son overcome his demons and how she came to the realization that only he could help himself. 

Long one of rock’s most notorious addicts, Steven Adler has been in and out of rehab 25 times. He has survived multiple suicide attempts, two heart attacks and a stroke resulting from an intravenous injection of cocaine and heroin.

Deanna Adler said that Steven has “always done what he wants to do when he wants to do it.”

“As a child, he was the type of kid who wouldn’t listen to anything I said,” she told me during an interview last week. “If I said to him ‘go to bed’ or ‘eat your dinner,’ he would say ‘I’m going to do it when I want to.’ He was his own man.”

Like many parents dealing with children who become addicts, Adler says she was in denial about her son’s drug use.

“He hid it from me at first,” she said. “I didn’t know about it for a long time. Later, he told me that he started smoking weed at age 11 or 12. When I said ‘How come I didn’t know that?’, he said ‘Because I didn’t want you to know.’”

When Steven was in his late teens - not long before he joined Axl Rose, Slash and Izzy Stradlin in Guns N’ Roses – Adler said she had an inkling that her son was using drugs but pretended it wasn’t happening.

“One day I was hosting a Tupperware party and I must have had eight or 10 ladies in the house,” said Adler. “Steven walked into the house and just vomited in front of everyone. I said to the ladies ‘Oh my God, he must have the flu.’ Denial again. He went to bed and I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to believe that he might have been on drugs.”

Today, Steven Adler is sober and, according to his mother, is trying very hard to stay that way. He has offered his full support for Deanna’s book.

During last year’s Guns N’ Roses reunion “Not In This Lifetime…Tour,” Adler rejoined his band-mates on three occasions, marking the first time he had played with them since being fired in 1990 for continued heroin use.

“Today we have a wonderful relationship,” Deanna Adler said of Steven. “I learned one thing through the years – not to interfere with my son’s life. Just be his mother. Don’t worry about his finances. Don’t worry about what he does behind closed doors. It doesn’t pay. I just want to be a mother to him. It took me many years to learn that.”

I asked Deanna Adler if she could offer any advice to parents who may be trying to come to grips with a child’s addiction problem.

“I would tell any parent today that if they have a son or daughter on drugs or alcohol to take care of themselves. Go to an Al-Anon meeting. Go to Narconon. Go somewhere where you can get help for yourself because you can’t really do anything for your son or daughter except be there for them.

“The more I tried to protect my son and butt into his business, the worse it became,” she continued. “Sometimes he wouldn’t talk to me for three or four years. After 25 years, I finally learned my lesson. Just be his mother. That’s what parents should do. Just be there.”  

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