Sir Elton John is living life as an open book with the release of his first-ever memoir, "Love Is The Cure: On Life, Loss and the End of AIDS," in which he opens up about his battle with drug and alcohol addiction.

It's been years since John got sober, but as he tells NPR, he still can't escape the memories of his past life as an addict.

"I still dream, twice a week at least, that I've taken cocaine and I have it up my nose," he told NPR's Steve Inskeep. "And it's very vivid and it's very upsetting, but at least it's a wake-up call."

His new memoir reveals that he stopped using cocaine and abusing alcohol after he met Ryan White, an Indiana teenager who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion. When White died in 1990, John said he was forced to reconsider his own life and addictions.

"[His death] got me to realize how out of whack my life was, because I was just in and out of a drug-fueled haze in the '80s. I did nothing to help people with AIDS," he said. "I was a gay man who really sat on the sidelines."

The legendary singer claims he was initially "ignorant" and "naive" when it came to drugs, and said his first encounter with cocaine came from his manager, who brought it into the recording studio. Even after he decided to get clean, it took him until the '90s to fire him because he wasn't a confrontational person.

John admits he began using cocaine to overcome his shyness and gain as much confidence off-stage as he had onstage.

"I always said cocaine was the drug that made me open up. I could talk to people. But then it became the drug that closed me down, because the last two weeks of my use of cocaine I spent in a room in London, using it and not coming out for two weeks.... So, it started out by making me talk to everyone and then ended up by me isolating myself alone with it, which is the end of the world, really," he said during his interview with NPR.

In an interview that will air in two parts on NBC's "Today" on July 17 and 18, John told Matt Lauer about the guilt he feels for being "consumed" by drugs while the AIDS epidemic ravaged the gay community around him in the early '80s.

"I wasted such a big part of my life... I was a drug addict and self-absorbed. You know, I was having people die right, left, and center around me, friends. And yet, I didn't stop the life that I had, which is the terrible thing about addiction. It's that -- you know, it's that bad of a disease," he said.

Some good has come out of that guilt. In 1992 he founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation and has since raised more than $275 million for the cause.

For more with Elton John, click over to NPR.
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