Eminem Reflects on the Most Harrowing Moments of His Battle With Drug Addiction

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Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show - Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images
Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show - Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images

Eminem opened up about the way his struggle with drug addiction was a constant, if unseen, presence throughout much of his early career in a new as-told-to in XXL.

In the piece, Em explained that drugs really only became a part of his life after the release of his 1999 album, The Slim Shady LP. He and his friends would make regular trips from Los Angeles to Tijuana, Mexico to buy pills like Vicodin, and the rapper recalled one instance where customs officers threw one guy “on the ground and start[ed] pulling pills out his pockets and shit.”

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Eminem said he and his friends still managed to get through, and looking back on the incident, he admits, “[I]t should have been one of the first signs to me, but I never thought that I had a problem. I just really, really liked drugs. As I started making a little money, I could buy more of them.”

As his fame increased, and drugs became more plentiful — especially when he went on tour — Eminem said he started to realize he was battling addiction, but still managed to “keep it on the low and keep it together” as much as possible. Things really got bad in between 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP and 2002’s The Eminem Show, when he was taking a mix of Vicodin, Valium, and alcohol. At one point, he even added the sleep aid Ambien, noting, “I would take a little to perform, which you would think doesn’t make sense, but Ambien is a mind eraser. So, if you don’t go to sleep on it, you get in this weird comatose state.”

Em said one moment where his addiction spilled over to the public came during an appearance on BET’s 106 and Park with 50 Cent and G-Unit. “We performed ‘You Don’t Know’ on the show and then we did an interview afterward,” he recalled. “That’s when the wheels started coming off. One of the hosts was talking to me and I could not understand a word she was saying. 50 had to cover for me and answer every question… If you watch back to that interview now, you can notice it. That’s when everyone around me knew, ‘He’s fucked up. Something’s wrong with him.’”

Then, after the 2006 death of his friend and fellow rapper Proof, Eminem said his “addiction went through the fuckin’ roof.” He said he had as many as “10 drug dealers at one time” and was taking “75 to 80 Valiums” a night. A few months after Proof’s death, he remembered going to the bathroom, falling over, and then “waking up with fucking tubes in me and shit, and I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t understand where I was and what the fuck happened.”

In 2007, Eminem suffered a methadone overdose, but he got sober the following year. Though he didn’t touch on his recovery the XXL piece, he did offer this reflection on his battle with addiction, “When I wrap it up in a nutshell, I realize that all the heaviest drug usage and addiction spanned only about five years of my life. It’s crazy for me to think back. It felt like a long time when it was happening, but looking back at it now, it wasn’t that long of a time for my problem to explode as it did.”

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