Kanye West Gets Real About Being a ‘Functioning Alcoholic’ and Quitting Drinking Cold Turkey

Kanye West today is hardly recognizable from the rapper he was a decade ago. His acceptance of Christianity has changed almost every aspect of his life, some say, for the better.

While not everyone appreciates this new West, there are some changes that every fan can find value in. No one believes that drinking every day would have a positive impact on his life, so when West recently announced he was quitting cold turkey, he became a role model for fans, for Christians, and for his children.  

Kanye West admits he’s a ‘functioning alcoholic’

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

West’s transition to Christianity has changed all aspects of his life, but one that most didn’t see coming was his rejection of alcohol. During an in-depth interview with Will Welch from GQ, West revealed that he was no longer drinking. 

“One day I was in my office working on the couture collection,” he said, “and there was some Grey Goose in the fridge and I was just going to get a daytime drink, and I looked and thought, “Devil, you’re not going to beat me today.” 

That moment had a huge impact on West, and he hasn’t had a drink since. Although, his moment of realization was different from many alcoholics, who are told they have a problem or are the subject of an intervention.

West says no one ever told him he was a functioning alcoholic. It was something he had to figure out for himself. 

“People have called me a crazy person,” he said, “people have called me everything- but not a functioning alcoholic. And I would be drinking orange juice and Grey Goose in the morning.”

Kanye West’s drunk public scandal

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

Welch, the interviewer for GQ, admitted that there was never a perception of West as an alcoholic. Well, except for that one time at the VMAs. His “Hennessy-on-the-red-carpet-moment.” 

The instance he’s referring to is, of course, the famous night he told off Taylor Swift on stage. Most people are familiar with his outburst that night, but it’s less common knowledge that West was drunk at the time. 

He arrived at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards with a bottle of Hennessy in his hand. As Vox pointed out, pictures from the event show the level in the bottle gradually dropping as the night goes on. He’s sitting in the front row, and when Swift goes on stage to accept the award for Best Female Video, a drunk West grabbed the mic from her to proclaim “Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!”

Obviously, this wasn’t an example of West’s best behavior. It took quite a while for him to live that down. And who knows if it would’ve happened without that bottle of Hennessy. But even after that event, the public didn’t perceive West as an alcoholic. 

“Right?” West responded to Welch after he brought up the scandal. “I really grabbed the drink to be able to even go to the awards show due to the information that everyone knows now. To say, ‘Okay, I can handle this.'”

Kanye West quit drinking cold turkey

Kanye West looking off camera in front of a repeating background
Kanye West | Angela Weiss/Getty Images

Although West’s departure from drinking may come as a surprise to many. This isn’t actually the first time he has spoken about it. Earlier this year, West shared his struggles with the crowd at Awaken 2020, an evangelical prayer rally, which he was headlining. 

“I never thought about the effect alcohol could have had on my life,” he said. West told the crowd how alcohol had affected his judgment at the 2009 VMAs. “I was drinking on the red carpet, and then running on stage a few minutes later.” He also shared his transition into daytime drinking and how he finally realized he needed to stop. 

“Devil you’re not gonna finna beat me today,” West announced. “And it’s something that we take on, day by day. Every day that I don’t pick up that drink, I beat the devil.”