Pete Doherty: The Cold Is My Teacher

Pete Doherty. A name that still conjures the image of a sallow-skinned, rockstar drug addict loping around London through hoards of paparazzi, one arm draped around a supermodel, the other holding a cigarette to his lips. He was kicked out of his first band, The Libertines, and served three prison sentences for various crimes including burgling his bandmate’s flat. Pete Doherty was labelled the king of chaos. 

Today, the man in front of us is unrecognisable from the frontman of the 90s. Sitting in his garden at home wearing a dry robe, his wellness team surrounds us. We witness a sound bath followed by an ice bath. The reflection and calm they give him now serve as his source of inspiration for his music, poetry and art, over the chaos that came hand in hand with heroin addiction. 

He tells us, “A lot of musicians are quite self-destructive people, lost in the romantic idea of a suffering musician instead of trying to stay alive a bit longer and make yourself feel good, at least for a few minutes a day.”

How did Pete Doherty start practicing cold water immersion?

His earliest memory of cold water was standing hand and hand with his sister, watching his dad jump into the Serpentine on Boxing Day. Pete has always felt drawn to water, feeling the urge to jump into the sea or a river whenever he could. “There’s something about throwing yourself into the sea, it’s like wrapping yourself in a comfort blanket and the cold that gives you a rush. Jumping into the sea isn’t like an ice bath because first of all, it’s freezing!” Pete admits he was scared when he first tried it, and in those first few moments he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to do it, but when he focussed on his breathing, and as he puts it, “the body falls into line.” And it left him with a feeling of pride. 

How often does Pete take a cold dip?

Now, he makes sure a cold dip is available wherever he goes, especially before a gig. The calming yet energising sensation helps brings both focus and freedom to his sets. Something the old Pete Doherty could never have imagined in his wildest dreams. 

How does cold water immersion help with addiction?

Cold water immersion, like ice baths or cold showers, has gained traction as a potential tool to aid addiction recovery. 

Reduced cravings: Cold exposure increases dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward and motivation. This could help manage cravings for addictive substances.

Combating anxiety and depression: Addiction recovery often involves battling anxiety and depression. Cold water immersion has mood-boosting effects and reduces these symptoms.

Improved stress management: Cold water activates the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation, building resilience and aiding in coping with cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Things to Consider: Cold water immersion is not a standalone treatment. It should be used alongside therapy, support groups, and other evidence-based recovery methods. Safety is crucial. Consult a doctor before starting cold water therapy if you have any underlying health conditions. If you're interested in trying cold water immersion for addiction recovery, discuss it with your healthcare professional to see if it's a safe and suitable option for you.

How do I start cold water immersion?

If you’d like to dip your toe into cold water immersion, there are some easy steps you can take at home. Have a look through our  5 easy steps to cold water immersion for beginners and start your journey today. If you’re curious about the other benefits of cold water immersion, check out our dedicated benefits page that details the incredible things cold water can do for your mind and body.

The cold is my teacher series follows 12 amazing individuals and groups of fascinating people up and down the UK whose love of cold water has brought them together and inspired these incredible stories.
Continue exploring these fascinating stories below:

The Ice Viking

Fenwick Ridley is a titan. A Team GB Ice swimmer. An entrepreneur. A master of his mind and a lover of the ice. As he describes it, his body is “built for the cold”.

The Ice Viking The Ice Viking

Queen of the Cold

We all need a Jules King in our lives. A woman whose glass isn’t just full, it overflows with positivity. Determined. Life-affirming. Inspirational. A woman who overcomes so much every day to achieve the most simple things we can sometimes take for granted. 

Queen of the Cold Queen of the Cold

The Dales Dipper

Les Peebles is a wild swimming guide and the proud founder of a 14,000-strong community called The Dales Dippers. But that wasn’t always the case. Les used to be a joiner and a painter. He wasn’t particularly depressed or stressed in life but he felt something was missing.

The Dales Dipper The Dales Dipper

Multiple sources now prove that a practice of cold water therapy is unequivocally good for us. Here's your free guide why and how to get yours!