Eminem Shares His Rock Bottom and Recovery

By Chrisanne Grise 06/28/13

In a new documentary, the recovering rapper talks candidly about his near-fatal battle with addiction.

"It does get better." Photo via

In the new documentary How To Make Money Selling DrugsEminem speaks in depth about the prescription pill addiction that nearly killed him. "When I took my first Vicodin, it was like this feeling of 'Ahh.' Like everything was not only mellow, but [I] didn't feel any pain," he says. "I don't know at what point exactly it started to be a problem. I just remember liking it more and more." The now-recovering rapper, who has been known to sport 12-step medallions on stage, first opened up about his addiction to prescription drugs on his 2010 album, Recovery. But he resisted getting clean for a long time. "People tried to tell me that I had a problem. I would say 'Get that fucking person outta here. I can't believe they said that shit to me. I'm not out there shooting heroin. I'm not fucking out there putting coke up my nose. I'm not smoking crack,'" he recalls. At the height of his addiction, he was taking up to 20 pills a day: "Xanax, Valium, tomato, tomatoe, it's same thing ... Fuck it, take it." Eventually, a nearly-fatal overdose landed Eminem in the ER. "Had I got to the hospital about two hours later, I would have died. My organs were shutting down. My liver, kidneys, everything," he says. "They didn't think I was gonna make it. My bottom was gonna be death."

Eminem, 40, got clean after his brush-with death, but relapsed within a month of getting out of the hospital. Ultimately, it was fatherhood—"looking at my kids and [realizing] 'I need to be here for this'"—that motivated him get sober on his own. After a detox that kept him up all night for three weeks—"not sleeping, not even nodding off for a fucking minute”—he started the process of recovery. "I had to regain motor skills, I had to regain talking skills," he says, "It's been a learning process, I'm growing." Now sober for a few years, he's been able to help other addicts get clean—including rapper Joe Budden. And last year during a tour, he thanked his fans for helping him get through "a dark time." "I couldn't believe that anybody could be naturally happy without being on something," he says in the film, which hits theaters today. "So I would say to anybody 'It does get better.’”

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Chrisanne Grise is a multimedia journalist specializing in health/fitness, lifestyle, travel, bridal, and music. Her work has appeared in print and online for publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Parents, FitnessMagazine, Fisher Price, Bridal Guide, Scholastic's Choices, AbsolutePunk.net, Chorus.fm, and more. She is the Senior Editor at The New York Times Upfront. Follow her on Linkedin and Twitter.