Growing up in a conservative Christian home, singer-songwriter Joseph Habedank didn’t understand why his brother was addicted to drugs. He couldn’t fathom how anybody could choose a substance over a relationship.
But soon Joseph would understand. While singing full time with The Perrys at 22 years old, Joseph developed an ulcer in the back of his throat. He describes it as “the worst pain I’ve ever been in.”
To deal with the intense pain, Joseph started taking prescription pain killers. He soon found that whenever he took those little pills, all his insecurities and problems seemed to disappear.
He was hooked.
“I was taking about 10 or 12 a day,” he says. “I was getting them from random people—I never had to buy them on the street, so I’m grateful for that. But I was getting them from fans and ended up losing my job. I thought I was done singing.”
From Drug Addict to Free Man
Humbled and desperate, Joseph didn’t know what to do. He had just lost his job and couldn’t afford the $25,000 it cost to get the treatment he needed.
Then the unexpected happened—the Grammy’s MusiCares program paid for Joseph to go to Cumberland Heights, a rehab facility in Tennessee. He spent 30 days in inpatient rehab and five weeks in outpatient treatment followed by 90 meetings in 90 days.
It wasn’t an easy process. Joseph knew how to get clean—but could he stay clean?
“When you get off drugs, there’s no guarantee you’re going to stay off drugs,” he says. “[The apostle] Paul said you die daily. So you have to wake up and pretty much die to yourself. And the amazing thing is that now I have absolutely no desire to use drugs.”
Joseph has been clean for eight years now. In that time, he’s earned two Grammy nominations, received two Dove Awards and 11 nominations, and has co-written five No. 1 hit songs. One of his many other achievements includes winning Songwriter of the Year two years in a row at the Absolutely Gospel Music Awards in 2018 and 2019.
He considers each of these awards as gifts from God and counts each day a new victory, a new opportunity to say no to temptation and yes to Jesus.
Choosing to Die Daily
Sometimes that choice might look extreme to other people. For instance, whenever Joseph goes to the doctor’s office, even if it’s just for a cold, he makes sure the doctors know he can’t take opioids of any kind.
“It’s something you have to be proactive about,” he explains. “I try to stay out of people’s homes where they might have them. I’m still with the program and am very passionate about recovery. But I’m even more passionate about helping others find freedom from addiction.”
Those aren’t just words to Joseph. Just as someone sponsored him and held him accountable right after he finished rehab, he’s now sponsoring someone else and helping them stay clean. He still talks to his sponsor once a week and keeps in touch with his sponsee daily.
Throughout his journey, Joseph is learning the delicate balance of trusting God to sovereignly direct his paths and making sure he puts in the work he needs to.
“The good news is God gave us free will,” he says. “The bad news is, well, He gave us free will!”
The key, then, is submitting that free will to God and being willing to do whatever it takes to follow His lead. Even though the rehab wasn’t Christian, Joseph took his recovery as an opportunity to pursue a deeper relationship with God that went beyond rote spiritual habits.
“I learned how not only to read His Word again, but to truly comprehend it,” he says. “In my prayer life, I had to completely rely on God because I didn’t know how to do this.”
Taking Southern Gospel to the Ark Encounter
This relationship with God is what fuels his Southern Gospel career. In just a few months, Joseph is scheduled to perform at the Ark Encounter for what’s been called the biggest Christian music festival in the world.
When asked what he was looking forward to most about the event, Joseph quickly replied, “The Ark itself because my wife, Lindsay, and I have never been. … She loves special attractions, so it’ll be fun to watch her walk through it. I love taking her to those things because she lights up, and it makes me happy.”
Hotels near the Ark Encounter are filling up quickly, so make sure you reserve your tickets and your room today for 40 Days and 40 Nights of Gospel Music. Click here for more information.