How Eminem Used Success Habits To Recover From Drug Addiction

A man who took a handful of white pills in an attempt to quiet the demons that called his name… A nearly empty fifth of vodka, perched on a table… A set of dark sunken eyes staring back in a dimly light mirror… The core of a man being challenged by his god…

…..He could no longer escape his past and his future threatened him…. He fell down and got up…. He fell again, this time paralyzed, unable to move… Everything went black….

…An instant that changed everything.  

When he woke up, the men wearing white coats said he was two hours away from dying. He’d taken too much this time. It nearly killed him. Next time he might not be lucky.

The pills were supposed to be just like valium- a drug he knew all too well. It wasn’t. The amount of Methadone he’d taken was the equivalent of 4 bags of heroin. Enough to kill most men. 

As he lay there, part of him wanted it to be over, to escape the life that that tortured him. It would be easier this way. The the other part still had a spark. That part still wanted to make music, to be a good father and live a good life.

His spark kept him going. 

This is his story of Eminem’s recovery. It’s about how he got motivated, created new success habits, used mentors to get his life back and began making music again. 

 

Addiction

From 2002 to 2008, the rapper, movie star and music mogul Eminem was addicted to a dangerous cocktail of prescription pills that included Valium, Vicodin and ambien. Following the filming of ‘8 Mile’, his everyday pill regimen started with an extra-strength Vicodin, followed by 3 or 4 Valium every hour, and then Ambien to put him over the top and fall asleep. 

I was taking so many pills that I wasn’t even taking them to get high anymore. I was taking them to feel normal.

Eminem’s addiction didn’t stop with pills, he ate fast food everyday. Prescription painkillers can be very hard on your stomach lining, especially when taking 40-50 each day. The junk food created a padding for his stomach and allowed him to take such high doses. 

I got up to between 220 and 230, about 80 pounds heavier than I am now. I was going to McDonald’s and Taco Bell every day. The kids behind the counter knew me – it wouldn’t even faze them…. It was sad.

Here is a picture of Eminem at his worst. 80 lbs heavier than his normal weight.

Here is a picture of Eminem at his worst. 80 lbs heavier than his normal weight.

The constant junk food, high stress and lack of exercise devastated him. As his body followed his mind, things got worse. His face got puffy, his gut protruded over his sides and his complexion blemished. His fans couldn’t identify him. Just another broken soul, sitting at Taco Bell. 

I got so heavy that people started to not recognize me. I remember being somewhere and overhearing these kids talking. One of them said, “That’s Eminem,” and the other said, “No it’s not, man – Eminem ain’t fat.”…. That’s when I knew I was getting heavy.

 

One of the most recognizable faces in the world, so large, so gone, that his own fans didn’t recognize him.  Something needed to change. 

 

Getting Leverage and Change

After the overdose, he returned home and fell back into bad habits. Within a few weeks, he was back to taking 40-50 pills each day.

That’s what really freaked me out. That’s when I knew: I either get help, or I am going to die.

Eminem had reached the point of no return. He had two choices. He could either:
A: Die. 
B: Change.

He chose the latter. 

Eminem had reached a point where the pain of staying the same became greater than the pain of change. He had leverage on himself. The pain of his current existence motivated him to change. Now it was time to get to work. 

 

Stopping Bad Habits, Starting Good Ones

He had leverage and set out to improve his body. Disgusted by his own appearance, he started moving and eating better – determined to shed the extra pounds. 

I also started running like a fucking maniac. Seventeen miles a day, every day. Just replacing one addiction with another…. But I’d get a number of calories in my head I needed to burn, and no matter what, I would do it.

Some days he could barely walk. He pushed through the pain and ran until his legs, hips and body ached. The focus on exercise allowed his body, mind and soul to heal. It became his new habit.

His life was moving in the right direction, but he found that exercise wasn’t enough. He needed additional support.  

 

Finding Mentors

Few people understood him and his unique situation. Eminem needed someone who had been there before and could speak to him through personal experience. 

He turned to Elton John. 

Throughout the late 80’s and early 90’s Elton had a cocaine addiction that nearly killed him. In addition to being a former addict, he knew what is was like to be a superstar in the spotlight. Common bonds that the two shared. 

After the overdose, Elton was one of the first people he called. The two developed a routine with Elton acting as the mentor, Eminem as the student. They talked regularly and their conversations allowed Eminem to gain perspective and shift his awareness. 

He usually calls me once a week to check on me, just to make sure I’m on the up-and-up.

Instead of looking at the negative things, he began focusing on the positive. Instead of expecting negative results, he began seeing the opportunities. The shift in mindset allowed him to start enjoying music and having fun.  

He made the decision to enjoy life again. 

He was hipping me to things, like, “You’re going to see nature that you never noticed before.” Shit you’d normally think was corny but that you haven’t seen in so long that you just go, “Wow! Look at that fucking rainbow!” Or even little things – trees, the color of leaves. I fucking love leaves now, man. I feel like I’ve been neglecting leaves for a long time.

He had found a mentor that understood him and was able to provide the support and direction that he needed.  However, he found that the hardest part of the recovery was still ahead. 

 

Creating Momentum Through His Habits

The consistent exercise and mentorship allowed him to blow off steam and focus on something other than his demons. The rush of endorphins and the detoxifying effect of exercise allowed him to recover faster from the addiction. He even started tracking his progress in order to quantify his results

I still hate pull ups. They’re a motherfucker, but I do them. I even fill out the log afterward.

The more he exercised, the clearer his thinking became. The more clearly he was thinking, the better his music got. The better the music, the more happy and fulfilled he became. The more happy and fulfilled he became, the better father was. 

His habits had a synergistic effect – all working together to move him forward and get clean. He had momentum. 

Once you’re at a place where you’ve made progress and you’ve got some time invested in it, you don’t wanna quit and give up what you started.

 

The Upward Spiral of Success

These days Eminem is clean. He’s making music and creating from the honest, vulnerable and open place we were drawn to 10 years ago.  Since his overdose in 2007, he’s since released 3 albums Relapse (2009), Recovery (2010) and The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013).

His daily success habits allow him to keep the spark alive. As long as he’s making music and living the good life, it’s all he wants. 

 

Sources

  1.  Eminem: The Home Body . (n.d.). Retrieved September 21, 2015. 
  2.  EELLS, J. (2011, October 17). Eminem: On the Road Back From Hell. Retrieved September 21, 2015. 
  3.  McGee, Tiffany (May 4, 2009). “Eminem Bounces Back from 20-Pill-a-Day Addiction”People. Retrieved November 28, 2010.

 

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About Ben Austin

My friends call me the illegitimate love child of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bill Nye. I’m a bodybuilding-yogi-science loving-foodie bringing an engineering approach to lifestyle design. Join me as I analyze the systems that go into optimal mental and physical performance and explore the stories and tactics of people who set the standard for the rest of us.

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