Save the Country … Music –
Dec. 18, 2020 – Gilbert’s battle with substance abuse began soon after he graduated from high school, in Jefferson, Georgia. As the son of a Baptist preacher, the singer had a religious upbringing. But in his teen years, he developed a fondness for liquor, which expanded into an affection for various pills — which evolved into his casual consumption of opiates. “I remember always making sure I had them,” he told PEOPLE.
At 19, Gilbert survived a nearly fatal car accident, which was the result of drinking while driving. The incident became the driving force that led him to move to Nashville, where he kicked off his career as a country star. Still, he continued drinking, “Every day was a party,” he admitted. Gilbert said he always kept a laptop bag which was filled with several bottles of hard liquor.
His cycle went on. “Every hour and a half to two hours, it would be time to get two or three good pulls on the bottle, and every three or four hours, it was time for a pill or two,” he detailed. Even at night, he would periodically wake up to consume more alcohol.
It was not until 2011, after abdominal pains led him to the hospital, that he finally realized he would not be okay if he did not make a change. Gilbert told PEOPLE he had his last alcoholic beverage on Dec. 18, 2011 and detoxed through that Christmas.