Eminem Admits His Drug Addiction Was At Its Worst When Proof Died In Sprawling New Op-Ed
Eminem has opened up about his substance abuse issues in a sprawling new op-ed for XXL, admitting it was at its worst shortly after Proof died.
The diamond-selling MC nearly died in 2007 after suffering an overdose and has been on the road to recovery ever since. But there was a point when he never thought he’d be able to quell his demons.
“Drugs became a part of the way I was living my life once I got signed,” he wrote. “When I first came out to L.A., me and some guys I was hanging out with used to go to Tijuana and we would buy drugs. Vicodin and that kinda shit. I don’t know how many times we did it, but it was so easy to go back and forth to do it.
“The last time we went, we’re second in line and this dude in front of us starts arguing with the guy in Customs, and they fuckin’ throw him down on the ground and start pulling pills out his pockets and shit. We were scared shitless, but we got through.”
Had he been arrested that day, Eminem believes his rap career never would’ve happened: “I would’ve been done right then.”
It never occurred to him that he possibly had a drug problem, but he admitted he just “really, really liked” them. His drug usage went into high gear in 1999 with the release of The Slim Shady LP. As he explained, he never tried “hard” drugs until he got famous. Up until then, he’d drink the occasional 40 ounce while freestyling with his friends, but it ramped up to a whole other level once he started making money.
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“I was experimenting,” he said. “I hadn’t found a drug of choice. Back then you went on tour and people were just giving you free drugs. I managed it for a little while. And then, it just became, I like this shit too much and I don’t know how to stop.”
As Eminem’s profile skyrocketed, so did the criticism. Not only was he a white rapper, but he also knew he was a guest in Hip Hop and felt he had a lot to prove. He admitted the constant barrage of insults hurt and drugs were a way to cope.
“That’s also when I was starting to battle addiction,” he said. “People obviously didn’t know it yet, but I was starting to realize inside that it was happening, and I always tried to keep it on the low and keep it together as much as I could. I was able to downplay my addiction and hide it for a while until it got really bad.”
He added: “I started taking Ambien on top of everything else. 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. I see what you’re saying, and I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t comprehend. 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.’”
Eminem said he used drugs for a solid five years before he really got a handle on it. Looking back, he recognized the 2006 death of Proof, his childhood friend and fellow rapper, sent him over the edge.
“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,” he explained. “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.”
“Then the thing happened with Proof and my addiction went through the fuckin’ roof,” he wrote. “I remember just after Proof died, I was in my house by myself, and I was just laying in bed and I couldn’t move and I just kept staring at the ceiling fan. And I just kept taking more pills. I literally couldn’t walk for two days when that happened and eventually my drug use fuckin’ skyrocketed.
“I had fuckin’ 10 drug dealers at one time that I’m getting my shit from. Seventy-five to 80 Valiums a night, which is a lot. I don’t know how the fuck I’m still here. I was numbing myself. I remember a few months after Proof had passed, I was about to use the bathroom, and all I remember was I just fell over. The next thing I remember was 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.”
A few months after Proof died, Eminem wound up in the hospital following a drug binge that could’ve cost him his life.
“I was about to use the bathroom, and all I remember was I just fell over,” he recalled. “The next thing I remember was 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.”
Em began his recovery journey in 2005 when he went to rehab to seek help for a sleeping pill addiction. But in December 2007, he was taken to the hospital where doctors informed him he’d consumed the equivalent of four bags of heroin and was “about two hours from dying.”
“It’s no secret I had a drug problem,” he told Vibe magazine in 2009. “If I was to give you a number of Vicodin I would actually take in a day? Anywhere between 10 to 20. Valium, Ambien, the numbers got so high I don’t even know what I was taking.”
Eminem survived to see another day and has been committed to attending 12-step meetings to maintain his sobriety. He celebrated 14 years clean on April 20.