Mike Doughty on Drugs

Mike Doughty is the founder of ’90s alternative band Soul Coughing, a solo artist, an enthusiastic blogger and now author of his memoir. The Book of Drugs chronicles Soul Coughing’s rise and fall, Doughty’s tragic, funny and strange struggles with addiction, and his even weirder experiences in recovery.

He’ll read, perform, and answer questions from the audience at his show on Saturday at the Parish at House of Blues.


When I first heard the title, The Book of Drugs, it reminded me of some sort of drug encyclopedia. Was that intentional?

(Laughs) No, I haven’t thought about it that way. The title comes comes from the song “The Book of Love.” One of the best songs of all time.

If you could use any drug again, what would it be?

If I could choose a groundhog day, it would be the first time I did heroin. Without a doubt. Every time after that was not as good as that. It ranged from not quite as good to downright shitty.

There’s a whole field of musician autobiographies out there. Did you read any before writing your own?

I’ve read The Dirt, the Motley Crue book, which is totally amazing. Even if you’re not into Motley Crue, it’s incredible. [Editor’s note: He’s right.]

If you ever have kids, would you tell them not to use?

I don’t know. I had this experience where I judged a high school talent show. One student was just amazing. All of her songs were about drugs, and you could tell it was not because she was doing all these drugs. It was fantasy drug talk. I actually went up to her to tell her, “Please, please don’t do drugs. You’re really great. Please, please, don’t do drugs.”

I never thought I’d say that to anybody because you couldn’t have kept me away from drugs with a Mack truck. But here’s somebody who’s really great, who’s really really great, and with drugs, maybe she won’t survive. Maybe she’ll have a super mediocre life. I don’t really regret doing the drugs but then again, I lived. It’s not like I would recommend them.

You started incorporating questions from the audience into your shows on your last tour—why?

I was looking for a way to be onstage and not be rehearsed. It seemed like a way of doing it that would be free-form and really funny and unpredictable. It was a blast.

What was the strangest question you’ve been asked?

I always forget when I’m asked this during interviews. Every time I’m like, “This is going to be the time I remember…”

Did you ever get a question that you didn’t know how to answer?

No. There’s always an answer.

How did you discover the percussive powers of duloxetine?

I was on some meds for depression, and it’s so hard to find the right shaker sound. It has to go with the music in a certain, very particular way. It was a very quiet environment and I picked it up and realized that it sounded good. It was just right.


Mike Doughty performs Saturday at the Parish at House of Blues. Doors are at 7 p.m., the show’s at 8. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 day of show.

  • Good to see a brutally honest conversation with a celebrity addict. Most media portrays this kind of stuff as a joke, and you see a bunch of people just making jokes about the whole thing. We really need to take a better attitude towards the addiction epidemic if we’re ever going to change things.