KIX singer Steve Whiteman has offered an update on guitarist Ronnie Younkins, who is unable to tour with the band because he has been placed under house arrest after repeatedly getting in trouble with the police. Ronnie is being temporarily replaced by Bob Paré, an accomplished musician who studied at the Music Institute in Los Angeles and taught music theory and guitar at several institutions, including Western Maryland College and Maryland Institute of Music.
Whiteman spoke about Younkins's current condition in a new interview with "The Chuck Shute Podcast". He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Last I spoke to [Ronnie], he's working, like, two normal jobs. He's still living in a rehabilitation clinic, and he still has a ways to go. Even when he's set free to go out into the world, like he did before, we still have to make sure that he's gonna be able to stay clean and sober. But right now he seems like he's doing really well. He's following all the rules and he's doing everything he can to get his life back in order."
Steve went on to say that Ronnie was sober for 20 years before relapsing and spiraling back down into addiction.
"He got Hep C, and he had to use intravenous needles to battle the Hep C, before the newer treatment came out," Whiteman said. "And we all think that that just kind of took his mentality back to the days when he was using. I mean, that's speculation, and you'd probably have to ask him that, but it seems like that's when things flipped for him."
Whiteman previously discussed Younkins's battle with addiction in a June 2021 interview with Sonic Perspectives. At the time, he said: "It's been an up-and-down adventure with Ronnie over the past five or six years. Sometimes he doesn't show up to gigs, and Brian Forsythe has to take over and play all the parts. Then he comes back for several months and does really well, only to fall off the wagon or get in trouble with the police. This last time, he got into trouble with the police and is currently in a halfway house under house arrest. That's the biggest reason he is not out with us now. We were looking at Bob Paré a couple of years ago when Ronnie was going through a bad stretch, but Ronnie bounced back. When he shows up, he does great, so we didn't make the move back then. This time we were forced to."
Whiteman clarified: "I'm not saying that Ronnie is out of the band. We are just saying [he is not gonna tour with us] until he gets it together [and] his family and these people that are helping him say he is good to go. We are not going to bring him in until he is ready. He has shown in the past he can't be sober on the road. Being out there in a rock and roll band is a very bad environment."
He added: "We have a long history of 40 years together. You want to give him the benefit that he is going to recover and do well. There have been so many times over the last five or six years [when] we didn't know if he was going to make it."
Four years ago, Younkins opened up about his drug addiction, saying that his "disease had gotten worse" after he relapsed several years earlier following two decades of sobriety.
Younkins missed a KIX concert in Pennsylvania in March 2017 when the rest of the group was unable to reach him. He was eventually found "not in great condition and very upset," according to TMZ. A month later, his bandmates revealed that he was "headed to a rehab facility" and promised that his spot in KIX would be "waiting for him" once he was ready to resume playing with the group.
While Younkins was in rehab, he took time out to join his KIX bandmates for a performance in June 2017 at the Sweden Rock Festival, where he gave a wide-ranging interview to Metal Rules that also touched upon his continued battle against substance abuse.
Speaking about his health, Ronnie said: "My disease has gotten worse. I had 21 years of sobriety at one point. Got sober and cleaned up in 1989, but I'd get on… A long story short, what led me back out was complacency in my program. I wasn't doing enough of my work for the AA program like I did in the early years. Then,I went on Hepatitis C treatment, or they should call it punishment, the old one that has many side effects, in 2010. One of them being insomnia, and the doctor put me on Ambien, and it fucked me up. It's a sleep drug, and I got hooked on it, and then I wasn't working the program, like with my mom's death — I worked through that at ten years sober. I worked through that with my sponsor. [My] dad died, like, in 2012. Some other shit had happened, and I worked through [it], and some serious things happened.
"We all have issues," he continued. "We all have shit happen in our lives and, you know, I worked through them in the program, but my when my father died, and I was complacent in the program, and I was already high on this fucking Ambien. I said, 'Fuck it.' And, I went out, and I started doing heroin and cocaine again within a month after my dad's death, and it's been nothing but downhill since. I've been through two rehabs, [in] 2014 [and] 2015."
Drug and alcohol rehab statistics show that the percentage of people who will relapse after rehab and even a period of some recovery ranges from 50% to 90%.
Most people do not manage to quit their addiction with their first attempt. They may try and fail a number of times before they manage to secure lasting sobriety.
For addicts that fall back into drug use, there is no guarantee that they will ever be able to stop again; their relapse may turn out to be a death sentence.
Over time, the life of the addict tends to deteriorate. This means that when people relapse, they may be going back to a life that is even worse than before.
Younkins added that he was "grateful" to his bandmates for standing by him through all his problems. "I love those guys in the band," he said. "They've been my brothers, all of them, and Brian's been a big help, because he's in the program as well, and yeah… So, I just want to get my shit together once and for all on a daily basis."
Bob was a session musician for several independent label releases, and has spent most of his long career performing live in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area with various bands, including FORCER, EVER RISE, PROJECT: EUPHORIA and, most recently, the RUSH tribute band SUN DOGS with KIX bassist Mark Schenker.