Music Discussions

It’s Been a While

Main Point of Discussion: Drugs and alcohol beckon to us as a solution to our problems, but once we give in to them, we discover they only add to our problems.

The Music Video: It’s Been a While (by Staind)
Staind is an American hard rock group from Springfield, Massachusetts, including lead singer/guitarist Aaron Lewis, lead guitarist Mike Mushok, bassist/vocalist Johnny April, and drummer Jon Wysocki. Over the past nine years the band has recorded six studio albums, had multiple chart-topping singles, selling over 15 million records worldwide.

It’s Been a While comes from their album entitled Break the Cycle, released in April of 2011. Lewis is actually talking about the drugs he’s used, but is writing/singing from the standpoint of a recovering drug addict.

Introducing the Music Video:
While passing out a copy of the song lyrics, say: “You have probably already heard Staind’s song ‘It’s Been a While.’ Though many people think he’s talking about a romantic relationship in the song, lead singer Aaron Lewis is actually talking about the drugs he once used. Take a listen to what he thinks of his old life as a drug addict as he sings from the standpoint of being clean.

The YouTube Video:

Song Lyrics:

It’s been awhile,
Since I could hold my head up high
And it’s been awhile
Since I first saw you

And its been awhile
Since I could stand on my own two feet again
And its been awhile
Since I could call you

And everything I can’t remember
As ****ed up as it all may seem
The consequences that I’ve rendered
I’ve stretched myself beyond my means

And it’s been awhile,
Since I could say that I wasn’t addicted,
And it’s been awhile
Since I could say I love myself as well
And it’s been awhile
Since I’ve gone and ****ed things up just like I always do
And It’s been awhile
But all that **** seems to disappear when I’m with you

And everything I can’t remember
As ****ed up as it all may seem
The consequences that I’ve rendered
I’ve gone and ****ed things up again

Why must I feel this way?
Just make this go away
Just one more peaceful day

And it’s been awhile
Since I could look at myself straight
And it’s been awhile
Since I said I’m sorry

And it’s been awhile
Since I’ve seen the way the candles light your face
And it’s been awhile,
But I can still remember just the way you taste

And everything I can’t remember,
As ****ed up as it all may seem to be
I know it’s me
I cannot blame this on my father
He did the best he could for me

And it’s been awhile,
Since I could hold my head up high
And it’s been awhile,
Since I said I’m sorry

Transitional Statement:
This song is about the actual addiction Aaron Lewis, the lead singer, had with drugs and the affect they had on him. Interestingly, though, the song outlines his reasons for taking them: strained relationship with his father, low self-esteem, mistakes, etc. It seems that he’s admitting that he ran to drugs to feel better about himself. But, if you look at his lyrics, it seems as though he’s glad he’s no longer using. It sounds like he discovered a huge truth about drugs and alcohol: they seem to be an answer to our problems, but when we give in to using them, we discover that they only ADD to our problems. Let’s talk about this now.

Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.

CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.

Discussion Questions:

  1. AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we dive in, everybody take a turn and tell us your name and your favorite band.

  2. ASK A FEW: How does he describe the drugs’ effects on him?

  3. ASK A FEW: How do you know when someone’s “clean”? In other words, tell me what it looks like when someone recovers from a drug/alcohol addiction.

  4. ASK A FEW: Which life do you think he likes better, the sober one, or the wasted one? How can you tell?

  5. ASK A FEW: Without saying names, do you know anyone who abuses drugs and/or alcohol? Why do they use them?

  6. ASK A FEW: Is their drug/alcohol use helping them in any way? Why or why not?

  7. Read the following passage:

      Romans 1:21-25 (NIV)

      21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

      24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

  8. ASK SOMEONE: What did these people do that angered God so badly? (Leaders – They essentially broke the first commandment: have no other gods beside Me.)

  9. ASK A FEW: Paul says that their thinking became “futile.” What does that word mean?

  10. ASK A FEW: Do most people who are addicted to drugs/alcohol consider themselves wise? Why or why not?

  11. ASK A FEW: Did the “images” these people worshipped help them or harm them? How do you know?

  12. ASK A FEW: The word “idol” isn’t used in this passage, but that’s essentially what Paul is talking about when he says “created things.” Can drugs/alcohol be idols people worship? Why, Why not?

  13. ASK A FEW: Do drugs/alcohol help us or harm us? How do you know?

  14. ASK A FEW: What do you think God feels toward someone who uses drugs and alcohol? What evidence do you have?

  15. ASK A FEW: What is the greatest need of a person who abuses drugs/alcohol?

  16. AROUND THE CIRCLE: How can you be of help to a friend of yours or someone who uses drugs and/or alcohol?

Wrap Up:
Tonight, we listened to a very popular song that talked about the effects of drug and alcohol abuse. In “It’s Been a While,” we heard the singer talk about how long it’s been since he’s been sober, able to stand on his own two feet, and proud of himself. Even though the song has the illusion of being about a woman he carries on an affair with, what he’s really hinting at is that he’s drowning in an addiction to drugs.

What he found was that, not only did the drugs and alcohol not solve his problems, they actually made them worse. His addictions simply created other problems for him. There were dozens of other options available to him, but he chose to become an addict. That decision really cost him dearly.

But that’s what the Apostle Paul says happens to us when we choose to act in “futile” ways. We get into trouble, but instead of turning to God for help and forgiveness, we create our own help; we create our own idols. And that only makes our problems worse.

There may be a few of you in here tonight who struggle with drug and alcohol use. I want you to know that there is a God who loves you so much that He gave the life of His only perfect Son, Jesus, so you could be free of that addiction and despair. Jesus died to give you eternal life, something you’re not experiencing right now in the depth of your addiction.

Of course, I’m sure that many of us in here tonight know someone else who’s using and abusing drugs and/or alcohol. Our friends, our classmates, our neighbors, and maybe even our family members could be on that list. What will you do to help them? What will you tell them? What will you do for them?

They are only making the situation worse for themselves. That’s what they need to know. That’s what YOU need to know if it’s YOU who is struggling. But, they don’t have to struggle alone. YOU don’t have to struggle alone, either. We have the love of God standing by, ready to rescue us. And we have each other.

Let’s spend a few moments in prayer together in small groups. Let’s pray for one another and for those people in our lives who have sought an answer in a bottle or a drug. I’ll close us out in prayer a few moments from now. But if you need to hang around and talk afterwards, please do so.

Close in Prayer

Written by Paschoal Trentni


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Guy's Guide to FOUR BATTLES Every Young Man Must Face; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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