Eminem hasn’t exactly avoided the topic of his relationship with a variety of illicit chemicals. After all, his last two albums were called Relapse and Recovery. But the man born Marshall Mathers has rarely been as candid about his struggles with addiction in the press.
In the pages of GQ, where he was named a “God of Rock” next to the likes of Keith Richards and Robert Plant, Em let the world know exactly why he is so prone to addiction. “I’m very much a creature of habit,” he told GQ. “If I’m used to waking up in the morning and having [a Red Bull], I could do it every morning for the next ten years straight until I find something else to move on to. So if I’m used to taking a Vicodin when I wake up in the morning because I’m hungover from drinking or taking pills … The bigger the crowd, the bigger my habit got.”
Eminem also explained that his drug problems could be traced over the course of his discography, noting that The Slim Shady LP was written almost entirely sober, the dark experiments on The Marshall Mathers LP were the result of more experimentation with substances, and Encore was hampered both artistically and practically thanks to his addiction to prescription medication (including Valium and Ambien).
After a failed stint in rehab (“Every addict in rehab feels like everyone’s staring at them. With me? Everyone was staring at me”), he had a traumatic overdose experience and finally made the decision to get clean when he realized he was killing himself. “I had a feeling in my arm that was weird, man,” he said. “Like, it really freaked me out. So I went to some people I trust and said, ‘Look, I know I need help. I’m ready now.’ I got a room in the same hospital where I overdosed, and I detoxed.”
His revelations fueled Recovery, which returned him to the top of the sales mountain and ranks among his finest work. The most revealing part of the interview involves his moment of clarity. “Sometimes [sobriety] sucks, and I wish I was wired like a regular person and could go have a f—in’ drink,” he told GQ. “But that’s the biggest thing about addiction: When you realize that you cannot f— around with nothing ever again. I never understood when people would say it’s a disease. Like, ‘Stop it, d—head. It’s not a disease!’ But I finally realized it really is.”
It’s refreshing to hear a star as huge as Eminem talking about his drug woes so frankly. And it’s refreshing to know that the reason why Encore is such a mess is because Ambien, as he puts it, was “[eating] a hole through my brain.” That certain explains this.
What do you think of Eminem’s thoughts on addiction? Where do you rank Recovery in his discography? Sound off in the comments!