Mandi Bierly
May 05, 2009 AT 11:13 PM EDT

In a Ladies’ Home Journal cover story, American Idol judge Paula Abdul speaks openly about her past with painkillers, revealing that for the first time in 12 years she’s no longer dependent on medication. According to the article, Abdul checked herself into the La Costa Resort and Spa, in Carlsbad, Calif., on Thanksgiving 2008, after years of medicating what is described as “chronic debilitating pain caused by an unusual series of accidents.” An initial back injury suffered as a 17-year-old cheerleader was followed by: a broken leg during a rehearsal in 1991; a neck injury in a car accident in 1992; and partial paralysis requiring 15 spinal surgeries from a 1993 airplane crash. To deal with the pain — and keep dancing — Abdul began using a combination of painkillers, which included regular shots of lidocaine, the magazine says. “I couldn’t cancel my tour,” Abdul explained. “I didn’t want anyone to count me out. I tried to keep everything hush-hush.”

By 2005, Abdul was diagnosed with reflexsympathetic dystrophy syndrome, described as a chronic pain condition that disabled her with pain, made her teeth chatter, and produced shingles-like lesions. “Paula wore a patch that delivered a painmedication about 80 times more potent than morphine and took a nervemedication to relieve her symptoms,” the magazine reports. “Sometimes she took a musclerelaxer. But the pain was so bad it often left her sleepless and shewould, as she says, ‘get weird.’ It was the combination of thesefactors that may have led to the impression that she was high at timeswhen she was on [American Idol].” Abdul, however, told the magazine that she never shot an Idol episode under the influence.

Last month, when asked by Nightline‘s Cynthia McFadden whether she had ever abused prescription drugs, Abdul answered, “Never.”

More Paula Abdul on EW’s Music Mix:
Paula Abdul remakes, improves on Kylie’s ‘Here for the Music’

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