Love & Theft Artist's 'Near-Death Experiences' Motivated Him To Get Sober

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Eric Gunderson is opening up about his encounters with addiction and “a couple of near-death experiences” that motivated him to get sober. Now, he hasn’t had a drink in nearly seven years.

Gunderson is one half of country duo Love and Theft, along with bandmate Stephen Barker Liles. Gunderson got candid about his efforts to overcome his addiction to alcohol in a new interview with PEOPLE, reflecting: “I got a little bit addicted to alcohol. I didn't realize it was so easy. I come from a family with a history of addiction. I guess there's that genetic predisposition there, but in the music business, I think idle hands are definitely the devil's playground. …I was more wrapped up in the appearance. That's part of the reason I drank so much; to stay numb. You combine the dependence with the emotional issues and it's really a recipe for disaster.”

The interview comes shortly after Love and Theft released their first project since Gunderson made the decision to get sober, a six-track EP called Better Off:

  1. Accidentally on Purpose
  2. Better Off
  3. Anyway
  4. Downhill
  5. Mirror Mirror
  6. Tell Me What It Feels Like

Gunderson, a Type 1 diabetic, admitted that he doesn’t believe he would have been able to co-write and co-produce the EP if he hadn’t chosen sobriety seven years ago. His career, in addition to his health and his family — including his wife of more than a decade — convinced Gunderson to make a change, once and for all. Now that he recognizes how much better his life is, Gunderson says quitting has “fueled my desire to stay sober.” Read his full story from PEOPLE here.

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