Eminem talks addiction, says 'The bigger the crowd, the bigger my habit got'


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!

Read more on EW.com:
Eminem fights darkness with Bruno Mars in ‘Lighters’ video: Watch it here!
Taylor Swift covers Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself, says ‘Yo!’ very well: Watch it here
Review: Eminem, Recovery

Comments (72 total) Add your comment
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  • Mike

    I like that celebrities who overcome their addictions are candid enough to be real. Most aren’t. This was something I’ve always respected about Stevie Nicks; she still talks openly about her past substance abuse. I applaud Em for being honest … I wish him all the success in the world as a recovering addict and a musician.

    • lady googoo

      Who is this person again? Does anyone care..? Haha, he is just testing the waters to see if anyone will listen. Mr. Mathers, we are NOT LISTENING and we DO NOT care. You’re no better than anyone else. Why don’t you do something with your over the top salary and help people for once. Got a new album coming up soon? Is that why you’re trying to make news. We don’t care, it’s people like you spewing hate in lyrics and whatnot that causes children to bully other children. He is part of the fault for some of the news stories we’re hearing in the news these days. We don’t care EmDem… go away until you can change into a decent person.. then we might care to listen.

      • Heather

        wow u have some issues! will keep u in thought and prayer why would u take the time if u dont care about him??

      • lady googoo

        Heather, if you actually support this filth you’re the one with the issues. Get your head straight then come back and chat. Wretch.

      • John

        Let me guess, googoo. One of your whiny ass brats is getting picked on in school and instead of addressing the real issue, which would be your bad parenting, you point the finger somewhere else. Shame shame. It’s music, moron. Entertainment. And if you are truly stupid enough to be offended by it, maybe you need to be studying rather than playing on the internet.

      • Raquel

        Here stands a man admitting he has a seroius problem and is fighting everyday to overcome it. who the hell are you lady goo goo to talk crap like that you buggin. Leave Eminem alone, Instead of bad mouthing him thank him, cause if he can get help then so can anyone eles.

      • AJ

        @ lady googoo, have you ever sat down and listened to his music? He has some of the most motivational lyrics out of any musical artist. His songs tell stories and real life situations that relate to a lot of people. I think you need to get off your throne and step back a little from your perfect world because some of the things he’s faced and endured throughout his life are most likely more harsh than anything you’ve ever encountered. He went down a bad path and realized it, so he did something to change it and become a better person. What have you done to better yourself or in fact better those around you because a lot of people relate to him and use him as a role model so he is showing them there is a better side to everything and with a little hard work you can get there too. Along with that how about you have your best friend from since you were a child shot and killed and see if that doesn’t make you a little crazy and upset.

      • Chris

        @googoo….Just another suburban lackluster parent blaming their bad parenting on an entertainer….Key word being entertainer. Not a role model. And clearly YOU care about him because YOU took the time to read the article AND leave a long nasty comment….haha, what an idiot

      • destiny

        look here lady goo goo btw a stupid name, alot ofpeople care about what eminem has to say, im a big fan and alot of the stuff he talks about relate to real life situations that alot of other people go through, alot of his lyrics are a getaway and relateable to people being bullied and encouraging they dont make people into bullies you idiot so why dont you go somewhere else with that bs!

      • Magicobraga

        You are just a ignorant, if you don’t know nothing about he’s music please don’t say s**t and shut up

      • mitch

        actually he’s the most popular guy on facebook so my guess is alot off people are listening. also blaming eminem on your bad parenting just gose to show you dont know what your talking about.

      • Maddison

        I do not agree with GooGoo- her lack of empathy is revolting, I have been a fan of Eminem’s music since I first heard him in 1999. That being said, people have the right to criticize his lyrics. Eminem is not a paragon of tolerance, as adults we can take it with a grain of salt and see the large issue. Children, as GooGoo brought up, can take lyrics at face value and use it as validation for being cruel to other children. When a child is pick on, it is not because of their parent’s bad parenting. Rather it is the parents of the child who is being cruel.

      • t3hdow

        Speaking of bullying, lady googoo, Eminem was mostly bullied over the course of his life, because he was constantly the new kid in school (according to Em, he moved to new schools every 2-3 months). Specifically, DeAngelo Bailey, a kid Em name checked on Slim Shady LP’s “Brain Damage”, beat him up so badly, he…well, caused so much brain damage, Em had to relearn his motor functions.

        So if any artist knows a thing about bullying, it’s him.

      • t3hdow

        And for anyone wondering how Eminem feels about being a possible nuisance on society, “Sing for the Moment” and “Who Knew” cover that subject nicely.

      • sandra

        ladygoogoo.. why are you here? you should be more worried about being a better parent than coming on the internet to bash someone who is trying to better themselves.

  • Derek

    I applaud him for being so honest. No that he hasn’t always been honset, he has, but I feel that a lot of his fans have followed the same path as him and it is good to have someone like him to look up to. I can’t wait to see where the next place he takes his music to. Recovery was probably one of his best, if not his best album. In my opinion, it should have won the Album Of The Year Grammy.

  • Yo Yo YO

    Do he ever smile?

    • Blarls Smarkley

      I don’t think that he ever smiles in public.

  • Phil

    I don’t think he is completely sober. His face whenever he does any performances anymore…I dunno if its how much make up, the wrong tanning beds…but his face is just off. Its not meth face, but its some kinda face that ain’t natural. I applaud him for getting help, but I’m not completely buying the whole “sober’ stint. Its prolly just a PR scam to keep his ex wife wfrom getting the kids, make her look like the complete failure of a parent, whereas he is the functioning, responsible father.
    Addistcs never really quit, they just get good at not letting amnyone see ‘em slip up.

    • AM

      Addistcs never really quit, they just get good at not letting amnyone see ‘em slip up. That’s the dumbest- and most ignorant thing I’ve read all day.

      • RA

        Recovering is a very, very difficult process. I wish that it was an easy struggle, but it’s not. This comment just shows people who are in recovery that the world is still full of ignorance when it comes to addiction. Addicts can be easy to judge and hard to understand, but at the root of the ignorance, is either a deep fear that you are just like us or a woundedness from addiction itself. I’m sorry for you and I hope that you find some peace with it. God Bless.

      • Phil

        The only person judging here seems to be your holier than thou crap. Ive had plenty of folks in my life struggle with addiction, and can’t honestly think of 1 who has successfully never gone back to either alcohol or drugs. Its like chasing the dragon’s tail. I’m not bitter or ignorant. I live in the real world, you should try it.

      • Heather

        wow really i was thinking the same thing about what u just wrote

    • SaraS

      I disagree, I think he’s been completely sober and a constant father to his kids – which is why he won’t tour anymore. It’s kind of sad honestly, to think about Eminem’s life. he doesn’t need to live as such a loner in that big Detroit house, but he chooses to.
      I read somewhere that he runs like 17 miles a day on a TREADmill. That is insane. But whatever works for him I guess… I just wish he’d find a nice girl and get married again, so maybe with that support he could start making music and tour like a normal artist.

  • J.K

    Good for you and your success but the Arcade Fire had a much better album and they totally deserved to win. I remember the look on Eminem’s face when he lost that night.I cannot believe he actually thought he had a chance.

    • lady googoo

      He is a Jackass, what did you expect? Teens listen to his filth music and then repeat what they hear. Ripping other kids apart and then teens end up taking their lives. He is evil and I hope he never makes another album again. Sick, he is just plain sick.

      • John

        Googoo is just upset because all of her fan mail has gone unanswered. Listen to “Stan” by eminent. You’ll feel better.

      • John

        Eminem. Damn typos

      • Chris

        You’re totally right googoo…lets just ban all music…..and movies rated higher than PG-13…..and anything containing nudity or profanity….and alcohol….and anything with too much sugar…..and dancing that doesn’t require ballet slippers or ball room gowns and tuxedos…..and the internet(that evil technology will be our downfall)…..and physical sports….What a great place this world would be….kind of like a retarded version of Footloose…..what an idiot haha

      • Mary

        Goo-Goo: There is filth every where in the world its up to us parents to be involved with our kids daily activities every day all day to manage what they take in. No we cant be with them all the time but if we instill values into our children then maybe they might make the right decision when we’re not there. You can not blame one man or one industry for people/children taking their own lives. How about for once, we hold that person accountable for their own actions. There are too many easy outs for people. Suicide, drugs, alcohol. no one deals with anything anymore. It’s easier to cover it up then when reality hits people can’t take it and they lose all control and sadly sometimes it results in death. So you can blame Eminem all day long or Dr. Dre or IceT, Ice Cube, Metallica, Godsmack, Nine inch nails, Marilyn Manson, Elmo, anyone but the peson that chose to take their own life. We are all accountable for our own actions. just as Eminem is. He has every right, just as you and I do to express himself. I dont’ recall any of his music telling anyone to take their own life.

      • Nemo

        eminem is the best you should be glad he went out honest like that eminem is the best you doubt about that !

    • djones

      Actually eminem should have won. Recovery was the best selling album and if it sells the most you would think it would be album of the year for sure

    • t3hdow

      Even as an Eminem fan, I agree that Arcade Fire deserved the award. Recovery was certainly a huge step up from the derivative Encore and Relapse, but it wasn’t quite up to the level of his first three albums. Arcade Fire, on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air, which will always trump the tried-and-true artists. Recovery had a lot of surprising subject matter, but not quite enough to get back to the brilliance of Slim Shady LP, Marshall Mathers LP and Eminem Show.

      • djones

        Yea arcade fire deserved it but eminem earned it. If recovery sold the most copies then don’t people like it more? It should just be based on sales cause whoever sells the most is obviously liked the most

      • t3hdow

        By that logic, Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber should get the award over Eminem and Arcade Fire, and I don’t think either of us want that. :P

  • Zaza

    I still like Mariah more.

    • AM

      I feel sorry for you.

  • AM

    One thing I respect about Em is that no matter what he is open and honest about what he is going through at that time. i wish him well in his sobriety.

  • Dessy

    I love Eminem so muchh :)
    And though I prefer Recovery, I don’t get the hate for Relapse, It was a great album

  • Joe T.

    I’m not taking away anything from his ‘revelations’, but why does every celeb have to say the same thing that other people have said? Everyone knows drugs/alcohol are addictive and bad for you yet everyone seems shocked when THEY become addicted. Everyone thinks they’re going to be the one person who’s immune to the destructiveness of drugs…but they’re not. No one is, but no one seems to get that. It’s kind of a bit tiresome to suddenly heap praise on someone who finally admits that drugs are bad when most of us had enough sense not to start in the first place.

    • Rick L

      ? “why does every celeb have to say the same thing other people have said” i dont know maybe thier people too? Your comments is a waste of space Joe you said nothing here

  • Heather

    it is nice to read this….. i love EM so much i am glad to see him doing better. i have been a fan since day 1. love u em glad u are working on ur self

  • Raquel

    Keep being you eminem I love your music, Don”t be bothered by the stupid things others have to say there just hating. Its easier to blame others on the faults of there own.



    • wombat

      FrEeDoM oF SpEeCh DoEs NoT eXteNd To FlAgRaNt CaPsLoCk AbUsE.

      • BIGTIG

        IT DOES AND I DID IT TO MAKE A POINT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Aaron

    EMINEM is a music and a ICON. EM is the sickeest, illest and greatest rapper of all time. EMS as big as it gets for artists these days. ive been a EMINEM fan since 1999 and it pisses me off to hear these idiots on here talking about a man they know NOTHING about. EMS a GOD….a VERY rich, loved and respected GOD.

    • BIGTIG


      • Kevin D

        Do you like Dre’s verses in Bang Bang or Let’s Get High?

  • Matthew

    he should just smoke dank pot

  • stephen

    wishing you fast recovery.you still rock but stop using drugs try weed.

    • Paula Maria

      Haters – shut the fuc up u sound stoopid. Addiction is a DISEASE, if u dont have it ur clueless. as to the illness therefore shhh. I dno what cancer feels like coz i aint got mother-effin cancer. Listen to Russel Brand

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