Inside Richie Sambora's 'Unbelievable' Life After Leaving Bon Jovi: Source (Exclusive)

"Nowadays, he's a songwriter, so he's constantly writing, playing and singing. It's the life of a musician," a source said of Sambora to PEOPLE

<p>Jo Hale/Redferns; Kevin Mazur/Getty</p> Richie Sambora in November 2022; Jon Bon Jovi in February 2024

Jo Hale/Redferns; Kevin Mazur/Getty

Richie Sambora in November 2022; Jon Bon Jovi in February 2024

Richie Sambora is living his best life since leaving Bon Jovi.

A source tells PEOPLE that "personal issues" and stress within the band contributed to why the band's longtime lead guitarist, 64, famously left Bon Jovi in the midst of their world tour in 2013 for personal reasons.

Three years before he departed Bon Jovi, Sambora "was feeling demoralized."

"There were tensions in the band and Richie had a lot of personal issues," the insider tells PEOPLE. "His dad died. Heather divorced him."

Jesse Grant/Getty Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi in Hollywood in December 2012
Jesse Grant/Getty Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi in Hollywood in December 2012

Related: Why Richie Sambora Didn't Attend Jon Bon Jovi's MusiCares Person of the Year Ceremony (Exclusive)

The fact that the iconic rock group "never took a break" didn't help either.

"They never even unpacked their bags," the source says. "They did this for 30 years."

Ultimately, the source claims, the "Ballad of Youth" performer "didn't have the spirit" for being in the band anymore.

"He needed to be home with his daughter, take care of her and also take care of himself," they add.

Currently, Sambora resides in Calabasas, with homes in Orange County and Hawaii, where he is focused on his family, a source confirms.

After his departure from Bon Jovi, his life was "unbelievable" as he was able to drive his daughter Ava to school and be there for her "full-time."

"Richie and Ava are very close," the insider says. "She means everything to him and always has."

Although Sambora and ex-wife Heather Locklear have been divorced since 2007, he still sees her "from time to time" and "is close with her family, too," per the source.

"She and Richie are tight," the source adds. "He just wants the best for her."

<p>L. Cohen/WireImage</p> Heather Locklear, Richie Sambora and daughter Ava in June 2005

L. Cohen/WireImage

Heather Locklear, Richie Sambora and daughter Ava in June 2005

They also explain how Sambora's decision to tour after he "fell and tore his shoulder off the bone" in the bathroom on a break contributed to his opioid use.

"Jon was maybe gonna cancel the tour. Richie was like, 'No, I’ll put the guitar over my other shoulder,'" the insider says. "He got on oxycodone, and he played 30-35 shows. They brought in $100 million bucks."

After the 35-show tour, the source says Sambora realized he had to work to stop using oxycodone.

When Sambora began weaning himself off the medication, "He thought he had Parkinson's [disease] because he was shaking," the source says of withdrawal symptoms. "He had to be on that drug to play the guitar cuz his shoulder was ripped off."

According to the insider, Sambora has been working with musician/producer Bob Rock, who collaborated on Bon Jovi's 1986 album Slippery When Wet.

"Nowadays, he’s a songwriter, so he’s constantly writing, playing and singing," they say. "It's the life of a musician."

The source adds: "He loves what he does. It's his passion. He’s a musician's musician."

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<p>Stephen J. Cohen/Getty</p> Richie Sambora in Louisville, Kentucky in May 2023

Stephen J. Cohen/Getty

Richie Sambora in Louisville, Kentucky in May 2023

Related: Jon Bon Jovi Reveals Why He's 'Not in Contact' with Former Bandmate Richie Sambora

Currently, Sambora is focusing on writing his own music after collaborating with Dolly Parton on "Rockstar" for her album Rockstar, which was released in November.

He is set to appear in the upcoming docuseries Thank You Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story, premiering on Hulu next month in conjunction with the band’s 40th anniversary.

While Sambora told PEOPLE in November that a reunion with his former band “definitely could happen,” the "Hard Times Come Easy" artist wasn't at the 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year ceremony honoring Bon Jovi in February and was instead taking care of his ailing mother.

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