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HOT TOPICS: Drug and Alcohol Treatment  Heroin

Steven Tyler Talks to Dr. Oz About His Drug Addiction

In a frank discussion, the Aerosmith frontman talked about his long road to recovery and declared that ‘doctors are the real drug dealers.’

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By Shawn Dwyer

01/03/14

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In a recently re-aired episode of Dr. Oz from September, Aerosmith lead singer and rock icon Steven Tyler talked about his decades-long struggle with substance abuse as well as his more recent relapse into prescription drug addiction.

Tyler opened the interview with a sly quip, asking Oz “ Is it ‘Hi, how are you?’ or ‘How high are you?’,” before getting down to the serious business of talking addiction and recovery. After telling Oz that he realizes he’s been “totally addicted to adrenaline,” Tyler relayed his experience by admitting to being sober “three years this time,” an allusion to his relapse with prescription drugs in 2006 following 12 years of sobriety. Oz pressed Tyler about his past attempts at recovery by asking the rocker how many times he had been in rehab since his first attempt in 1983. “Enough times to wind up being as sober as I am right now,” Tyler said to applause. “I’m not sure it’s about a number, but it’s more about what it did. ”

Oz delved deeper into Tyler’s drug past, which included snorting mountains of cocaine and drinking heavy amounts of Jack Daniels throughout the 1970s and 1980s, which often helped the singer get through marathon shows during Aerosmith’s early days. But eventually, his drug and alcohol consumption caught up with him. “I did it so much I couldn’t stop, and then I had to ask myself and face myself to see why couldn’t I stop,” he said. “My sobriety cost me nothing less than everything. It’s serious when you lose your kids, your wife, your band, your job…and you’ll never understand why, because you’re an addict.”

Though he managed to stay sober for 12 years after a successful recovery in 1988, Tyler fell off the wagon into painkiller addiction following foot surgery, which led to him declaring doctors the new drug dealers. Three years after his relapse, Tyler checked into the Betty Ford Clinic, where he was guided to sobriety by Dr. Harry Haroutunian, himself a former patient of the clinic. “He was a challenging patient. Very giving, very warm, very affectionate, very loud,” Haroutunian said. “Sometimes he had difficulty staying inside the lines and we had to pull him back in. [But] he really dedicated himself to his recovery.”

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