Eminem’s ‘Relapse’ Explores His Drug Addition and Rehabilitation

photo of Eminem - March 2009 press release

Rapper Eminem’s first new album in 5 years, Relapse, explores his relapse and attempts to escape the trap of drug addiction after treatment at a drug rehabilitation center.

Eminem: ‘I wasn’t ready to get clean’

On the subject of his treatment, Eminem explained: “When I landed myself in rehab in 2005 I felt like I wanted to reassess everything. I remember sitting in rehab thinking, ‘Is this what it comes to, really?’.

“I was like Bugs Bunny in rehab, Bugs Bunny walking in the room. The second you walk in the room…

Get Clean, Come Back: Eminem’s Return

IN late December 2007 a depressed, writer’s-blocked, pill-popping, opiate-addicted Marshall Mathers, better known as the multimilllion-selling rapper Eminem, overdosed on some new blue pills someone gave him — they were methadone — and collapsed on his bathroom floor. Public statements covered up the reason for his emergency hospitalization and detox, claiming the problem was pneumonia. A month later Mr. Mathers had ramped up his habit again.

But the overdose scared him. Early last year he hospitalized himself, went through rehab and started the full 12-step program of a recovering addict, complete with meetings, a sponsor and a therapist. Mr. Mathers, 36, says he has stayed sober since April 20, 2008.

Far from concealing his addiction battle, he’s making it the center of his comeback. The cover of “Relapse” (Shady/Aftermath/Interscope), the first new Eminem album since 2004, builds his face out of pills, and in some songs he raps, as directly as a rhymer can, about how drugs nearly destroyed him.

Eminem Got Rehab Help From Elton John

When it came time for wisecracking tough-guy rapper Eminem to kick his addictions to the curb, he looked to an unlikely source for help — music legend Elton John. “I came home from the hospital the second time and I realized that I was giving up drugs forever,” Eminem reveals in the June/July issue of Vibe. “I reached out to Elton ’cause I knew he had a problem before.”

He was like, ‘Don’t do it. Do not do it,'” he recalls. “But I didn’t want to disappoint anybody. He talked me out of doing it. He was like, ‘I’m telling you you’re gonna get over there and you’re gonna wanna use. Don’t do it, it’s too early. You don’t even have enough clean time under your belt.'”

And Elton wasn’t just there to advise on the big things; he took an active interest in Em’s sobriety. “He called a lot. A few times a week,” says Eminem. “

Eminem tells a gritty tale in new ‘Relapse’

With its blistering glimpse into his struggles with addiction and sobriety, depression and ennui, the album marks a gritty return for an artist who slipped off the public scene four years ago amid a cloud of speculation. The singsong choruses of “Insane,” “My Mom” and “Déjà Vu” are like taunts in the face of the harsh reality — taunts at his own weaknesses, perhaps — with the intensity broken by the jokey skits and bouncy tracks like “Old Time’s Sake.”

Photo from March, 2009 press release

Related: Billy Joel Alcohol RehabWinehouse to Rehab: Yes, Yes, YesColin Farrell Wanted To Be A Better Dadfind a drug rehabilitation center

Research on the Brain and Behavior on Addiction

New research on the brain and behavior clarifies the mysteries of addiction by Craig Lambert, Harvard Magazine, March 2000.

Early experiences with drugs, whether in the womb or as an adult, have ineradicable effects. Drug users often describe a wish to recapture the bliss of their first high. But this goal proves elusive because once the brain has neuroadapted to drugs, it is physiologically and structurally changed. The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and many others argue that voluntary drug consumption alters the brain in ways that lead to involuntary drug consumption. The question of whether drug habits are voluntary or not leads us to ask how people get over their addictions, and raises some of the moral issues surrounding compulsive behavior.

Addiction is not all pharmacology, neurotransmitters, and intrapsychic states; the social settings of drug consumption have powerful effects. They can influence basic brain chemistry–which is one reason Gene Heyman rejects the notion that “addictive behavior is insensitive to persuasion, that there’s an irresistible urge to take the drug.” Heyman agrees that drugs alter the brain, but disputes the idea that they change the brain in ways that make choice impossible–he does not believe, in other words, that neuroadaptation makes drug use involuntary. Exhibit A, he says, is 50 million ex-smokers who have voluntarily ended their intake of nicotine.

One reason people believe drug use is involuntary is that recovery rates for addicts treated at clinics are quite bad. Within one year of treatment, relapse rates of 67 to 90 percent are common for alcohol, opiate, cocaine, and tobacco users. “But most of the people who become addicted to drugs don’t go to clinics,” says Heyman. “Actually, only 30 to 40 percent go to clinics. Yet this clinic population has greatly influenced our vision and concept of addiction.”

It turns out that addicts who don’t go to clinics have much higher recovery rates.

This is an interesting article with interesting data. Remember the different recover rates for those that go to clinics and those who does not mean going to a clinic reduces the odds of success. It seems reasonable to guess most of those that go to clinics are drawn from the subset that failed to quit without going to a clinic. So it could be that fail to quit on their own then will fail only quit on their own 3% of the time and quit in a clinic 10% of the time (these numbers are not based on anything just an example of what you must consider about the above statistics).

Even though cigarette smoking is the direct cause of 400,000 American deaths annually, while alcohol directly causes only 100,000 deaths, “alcoholism is a major reason that people don’t stop smoking,” says Vaillant. “Those who keep on smoking after age 50 tend to be alcoholics.” In hospitals, alcoholics cost six times as much as other patients. Half of all people who show up in emergency rooms with severe multiple fractures are alcoholics. “But the emergency rooms treating multiple fractures ignore blood alcohol levels,” Vaillant says. “The causal link isn’t made.”

“No other drug of addiction impairs one’s aversion to punishment the way alcohol does,” he continues. “Yes, compulsive gambling impairs your aversion to being poor, and heroin use impairs your aversion to being arrested. But alcoholism goes across the board. When drinking, people are much more likely to engage in all kinds of dangerous, life-threatening behavior–wife beating, child abuse, unprotected sex with strangers, smoking, drunk driving. You can be five foot two and willing to take on anyone in the bar.”

Related: Alcohol is a Major Cause of Drug Rehab AdmissionsHow Effective is Drug Addiction Treatment?Methods to Treat AddictionWhy Can’t Drug Addicts Quit on Their Own?

Marlee Matlin Discusses Her Drug Abuse

photo of Marlee Matlin

At age 21, she became the youngest recipient of the Best Actress Oscar and one of only four actresses to receive that honor for a film debut: Children of a Lesser God. In her book, I’ll Scream Later, she discusses her drug addiction. In fact she was in drug rehab when she learned of her Oscar nomination.

Marlee Matlin Reveals a Darker Side

At just 18 months old, Matlin lost her hearing due to a bout with the roseola virus. Without hearing aids, she says she is absolutely deaf.

Even as she was winning accolades for “Children of a Lesser God,” Matlin said she was preparing to check herself into rehab to battle her drug addiction that began when she was 13. In fact, the name of her book “I’ll Scream Later” was inspired by her inability to react to her Oscar nod because she was in rehab.

Now happily married with four children, her demons seem long gone. But it was a certain dancing show that inspired her to write about her troubled past.

“I was very rebellious,” she said of her early involvement with drugs.” I was very fiercely independent.” Her drug use began with marijuana and escalated to cocaine, she writes.

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