In 1986, Seger told the New York Times that the song is about cocaine abuse. "I wrote it after reading 'Wired,' Bob Woodward's biography of John Belushi. That was two and a half years ago, when there was a lot of publicity about cocaine abuse in show business. At the time, I thought that it was just a trend that would quickly die out and that the song would be out of date when it came time to record. But the situation has gotten worse. Maybe cocaine isn't quite as fashionable on the East and West Coasts these days, but the plague has spread into the heartland -- into the Middle West and the South. The key line in 'American Storm' is 'You never feel the need.' You never feel anything when you're on drugs. You're numb. You're afraid to feel for one reason or another, and that's why you turn to drugs. I want to see people not do that."