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Addiction to artistry: Island rapper shares journey to sobriety

Scott Monk, 32, draws on his two-decade-long fight with addiction to create music and inspire change
Comox Valley rapper Scott Monk first took hard drugs at age 13. For the next two decades, he battled addiction before achieving sobriety. Now, he hopes to inspire others struggling with substance use to turn their lives around.

Scott Monk was born and raised in the Comox Valley. At seven years old, he received a cassette of Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP, marking his introduction to hip-hop music. This single experience would go on to forever change the life of the now 32-year-old man, sparking his dream to become a prolific rapper.

However, one major obstacle would hinder him from achieving this goal for nearly two decades.

Despite having "a good upbringing," Monk struggled with addiction from his early teens to his late twenties. 

At the age of 10, he started hanging out with what he described as “an unhealthy crowd.” Three years later, he tried hard drugs for the first time after running away from home and relocating to Campbell River.

“I ended up having a girlfriend out there and her mother offered me hard drugs,” said Monk. “I remember saying no when I got in the house, but when I was leaving she asked again (and) I said yes.”

Two years later, he returned to the Valley with the goal in mind to pursue music. However, drug use would deter the teenager from his pursuit. 

“I was back in Courtenay when I started recording my own songs and making music,” said Monk. “But at that time, I was stuck in addiction and it progressed. It didn't really bother me back then because I thought that was the lifestyle I was meant to live. I thought that was what I was gonna do for the rest of my life and I was okay with it.”

Unable to fully commit to his dream, the young man’s life would take a turn for the worse a few years later following his separation from the mother of his child.

“Addiction was still very much active in my life. Although it was progressing, it didn't get to the point where I felt completely helpless until a few years later,” Monk recalled. “After my daughter was born, it got really bad. I used to be very angry my whole life and I had no particular direction.”

It was while reaching the lowest point in his life, battling ongoing addiction, that the young man met a group that would change his life forever.

“I found this one community that gave me a bit of hope that maybe I could live without using drugs. It didn't stick at first, but (they) planted the seed of hope in my mind,” he said. 

Although he continued using for a little while, Monk remained resolute in bringing about change in his life.

“Eventually it got to a point where I needed to do something about this and I didn't think it was possible. In my heart, I thought that I had to use drugs. I didn't see any other way out,” Monk explained. “I had to go to somewhere where (I could) focus on recovery and that was the best decision I ever made.”

After entering a recovery centre, Monk spent the next nine months of his life there. It was during this time that the seed of hope, planted years earlier, began to sprout, marking the beginning of his path to sobriety.

“I was sitting there all timid, filled with guilt and shame, hating my life and who I was,” he said. “But when I listened to these people share some of their stories, everything switched. I remember thinking ‘Oh this guy is sharing my story right now.’ I identified with those people.

“I started thinking that if this person used to be where I was in addiction and now they're living this life, maybe I can do that too.”

Fresh out of recovery and with a newfound community, the young man returned to the world and turned his life around.

From adopting a healthier lifestyle to changing his circle of friends from his past life, Monk found a new motivation to live.

Having celebrated two years of sobriety last April, the artist now has a unique outlook on life. 

“I think there's so much stigma and negative views around people with addiction, especially in our city right now, and I get it,” Monk mentioned. “To the outside person looking in, it may seem like these people… are hopeless.”

Rather than judging those battling substance use, Monk emphasized the importance of offering them help.

“I think for some who don't understand (addiction) they will think that they're not good people and that they can't get better,” the man said. “But these people are sick and there is a way to get better and healthier. We should have compassion for people instead of hatred.”

Now drug-free and laser-focused on his music career, Monk has turned this dark period of his life into a driving creative force, imbuing his songs with meaning, resilience, and hope.

“The life of addiction and recovery is a big part of my story,” he said. “Addiction is a progressive disease (that) gets worse and worse if you aren't able to do anything about it. 

“Now I try to incorporate recovery into my music because I remember how inspired I would feel by certain songs when I was young. I've had people reach out and tell me that my songs have helped them get through a tough time.”

Recently back from a tour across B.C. with his friend and fellow rising Surrey rapper Merkules, Monk continues to release songs week after week.

Believing that consistency is the key in the industry, the rapper stays dedicated to his craft and has begun to reap the fruits of his labour.

With his streaming numbers on the rise, Monk recently sold out his first venue at Courtenay’s Whistle Stop, attracting a crowd of 130 people. 

Though the rapper is now steadily gaining recognition, he remains down to earth, living day by day, focusing on his sobriety while navigating this new chapter of his life.

“I'm first and foremost able to be a healthy father now,” said Monk. “Luckily I was never out of my daughter's life and I’m now able to be present and teach her right from wrong in the way that I should. I'm also able to be a healthy son now. My mom and dad don't have to worry anymore. I'm able to be part of my family's life again.”

Although the life of an artist remains uncertain, Monk mentioned that if he could share one lesson his journey has taught him, it would be one of hope.

“People can get healthier and people can change,” he said. “We see a lot of sick people (across the province) and I think a lot of people think that they're bad people or that they're never going to change, but we do change and we do get healthy. I've seen it numerous times.”

To learn more about Scott Monk's career, follow the artist on Facebook, stream his music on Spotify, and visit his Instagram page.

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Olivier Laurin

About the Author: Olivier Laurin

I’m a bilingual multimedia journalist from Montréal who began my journalistic journey on Vancouver Island with The Comox Valley Record in 2023.
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