Rascal Flatts’ Joe Don Rooney Breaks Silence, Reveals Sobriety

Rascal Flatts Joe Don Rooney is a much different man than the one he was a couple of years ago. The singer and guitarist spoke out on social media, after being mostly quiet for the last couple of years, to address the changes he has made in his life, including becoming sober after being charged with a DUI, when he hit a tree while intoxicated.

“I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted on any socials,” Rooney began. “It’s actually been a couple years since I’ve engaged with fans and friends on Twitter (now X) or Instagram. But I figured today, at the beginning of this brand new year 2024, would be a good day to send a message out to the world. First off, I am alive!”

Rooney goes on to say he is not transitioning to be a woman, as some rumors suggested, before addressing the accident that became a turning point for him.

“My life and career took a major detour at 4:00 AM in the early morning hours of Sept. 9, 2021 when I ran square into a tree and about killed myself,” Rooney shared. “I was drunk and I was so far gone with my life – I was completely out of control and finished with trying to fight the fears, depression and anxieties that had spun me out in a way I’ve never experienced before.

“My drinking had been an issue for many years – and as they say in AA and treatment, it’s a progressive disease,” he continued. “I am living proof that the progressive nature of drinking can really ratchet up and as I grew older as an adult my drinking grew worse.”

Rascal Flatts announced their farewell tour in early 2020, a tour that never happened because of the pandemic. It was Rascal Flatts’ lead singer Gary LeVox who previously said that Rooney was the one who wanted to end the award-winning trio. Although Rooney doesn’t say it was his idea, he does express regret at the way Rascal Flatts ended their 20-year run in country music.

“The pressures of my career and the many mistakes I made in regards to my home life, coupled with a lot of pain and trauma from my childhood and early on in my adult life, had become too much to bear,” Rooney explained. “I was not a good father – I was not a good husband – and I was not a good bandmate to my business partners. I probably would’ve never taken responsibility for any of this if it hadn’t been for my car wreck on Sep 9, 2021.”

Rooney was sentenced to a year in jail, with all but two days suspended. He now says that He believes God orchestrated the accident, to give him the wake-up call he desperately needed.

“Fortunately, (and I truly believe this,) God led me into that tree safely enough to not kill me – and luckily nobody else was involved and I didn’t injure or kill anyone,” Rooney said. “I could literally be in a Federal Prison for life right now. That is the reality of what my life had become. That event led me to treatment for my alcoholism for four months in the beautiful mountains of Utah.”

Rooney adds that he has been sober for almost 28 months, after realizing he was “powerless over alcohol.”

“With the help of my family and so many other professional clinical advisors and now numerous new sober forever friends, I’ve been able to get the train back on the tracks and live without the burden of alcohol,” Rooney said. “Now, I need to protect my family and protect my sobriety. I have new healthy boundaries for the first time in my life. Only positive, loving, caring and understanding people may enter.”

Rooney ended his lengthy, heartfelt message by expressing his gratitude for how his life has turned out, struggles and all.

“I wish there was a way I could give back to God what all God has given to me – but moving forward, I will do my best to reflect God’s light of love and grace onto others like so many have done for me,” Rooney concluded. “I hope y’all have an amazing 2024. Thank you for all the love, support and prayers. I promise you, I’ve felt them all and I’m super appreciative. Here’s to making the best of 2024 and living our most healthiest, happiest and goal-oriented lives ever!!”

Read his entire statement here.

In June, Jay DeMarcus praised his former bandmate for how far he had come in recent months, while speaking on the Chrisley Knows Best podcast, adding that he doubted that a farewell tour would ever happen at this point.

”We’re on totally different pages now.,” DeMarcus said at the time. “Of course, Joe Don went through his very public debacle a couple of years ago. He’s better than I’ve heard him in 10 years. He’s 19 months sober, and he’s enjoying having some peace and learning how to live again without his addiction, and so I’m really, really, really proud of him and where he’s at right now.

“There are just so many steps that would have to take place in order for us to get back to even talking about it … It’s not too late,” he added. “I think the further we get away from it the harder it is to put it back together.”