Travis Barker spent three months in a Georgia hospital after a 2008 plane crash that left him with third-degree burns on 65 percent of his body. One of the first decisions he made after leaving the hospital — where he endured 26 surgeries and multiple skin grafts — was to flush all the prescription drugs he had down the toilet.
“People are always like, ‘Did you go to rehab?’” the Blink-182 drummer said in a new interview with Men’s Health. “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.”
He said he flushed everything, “including stuff that I really needed.”
Barker is the last remaining survivor of the crash, which killed the two pilots and two of his friends, assistant Chris Baker and security guard Charles “Che” Still. Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein, another close friend of the drummer, survived alongside Barker but died almost a year later from a drug overdose.
Never a big drinker, Barker told the magazine that before the crash he would smoke “an excessive amount of weed” and take painkillers to grapple with his fear of flying during Blink-182 tours. As a result of the excessive painkiller use, he developed osteoporosis and a high opioid tolerance, which resulted in him waking up during surgeries at the hospital.
Barker said he dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder and survivor’s guilt after the crash. He was unable to sleep at night for three weeks after his release from the hospital. When traveling on tour, he said, he felt himself bracing for impact in case of another crash.
“I was dark,” the 45-year-old said. “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 attended therapy for three months as part of his recovery. The drummer said that with time he has been better able to cope with the tragedy.
“The closer I was to [the crash], 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, being in an accident and being burned, trying to grab my friends from a burning plane. That haunted me for a long time,” Barker said. “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.”
Although Barker — who now owns a cannabinoid wellness-product company and is romantically linked to Kourtney Kardashian — has not boarded a plane since 2008, the drummer said he is ready to do so.
“There’s a million things that could happen to me,” Barker said. “I could die riding my skateboard. I could get in a car accident. I could get shot. Anything could happen. I could have a brain aneurysm and die.
“So why should I still be afraid of airplanes?”