Chris Stapleton is well-known for his drinking songs, but in real life, he's not much of a drinker — not anymore, at least.

In a new interview, the country-soul superstar admits he "got into a drinking contest with myself" — and lost — before deciding to change his ways.

Stapleton was 23 years old when he moved to Nashville to take a full-time stab at his musical ambitions, and he tells GQ that he tried to live up to his image of what a country singer-songwriter was during his early years in town.

Now 45, he has been largely sober for several years now. His upcoming album, Higher, includes a song titled "The Bottom," which addresses the thought process that accompanies excessive drinking.

“I didn’t have to go to rehab, but from a 45-year-old-man health perspective, a doctor’s gonna look at me and go, ‘Hey, man, probably cut out the drinking,’ and I’d be like, ‘Okay, cool,'" Stapleton says.

“I like to tell people that I got into a drinking contest with myself in my 20s, and I lost,” the singer adds. He admits that, like so many other artists, he was trying to live what he was writing in his songs.

“When you’re younger, you feel like you have to do certain things in order to occupy some of these spaces, to make yourself feel like you’re legit. You want to feel things. You want to be able to write about things authentically,” Stapleton states. “If somebody working a different kind of job drank themselves to death in the name of being better at that job, it wouldn’t make sense to anybody. We wouldn’t say, ‘Oh, he must have been the greatest electrician who ever lived.’”

Stapleton's Higher album is set for release on Nov. 10. He has announced a string of new concert dates on his ongoing All-American Road Show Tour for 2024.

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Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

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