By Cheryl Scott
"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," says Eminem in his new documentary, How To Make Money Selling Drugs. "I don't know at what point exactly it started to be a problem. I just remember liking it more and more.”
In this straightforward film, the legendary rap star says the words all addicts must say if they want to open the door that says recovery. “I am Marshal and I am an addict,” pronounced in plain English, no rhythm tracks, no screaming fans, no flim-flam.
In this film Eminem comes clean about the severity of his addiction, the ferocity of his denial and how close he came to death. He began his use of Vicodin and Xanax casually, quickly becoming more impaired, and finally realizing how perilous his addiction had become.
He added Valium and other drugs to the mix, using more often, banning from his presence anyone who tried to warn him. One day, he mixed one—or two —too many drugs. He made it to the hospital just in time.
"Had I got to the hospital about two hours later, I would have died," he tells the interviewer. "My organs were shutting down. My liver, kidneys, everything. They were gonna have to put me on dialysis. They didn't think I was gonna make it. My bottom was gonna be death."
A month after Eminem came out of the hospital he relapsed, but his love for his daughters saved him from what could have been a final downward spiral. "I'm looking at my kids and I realize, 'I need to be here for this,' " he says.
Here’s where the story most strikingly differs from the average Big Star addiction saga. There was no rehab clinic, cushy or otherwise, no wise counselors, no group sessions.
Eminem quit drugs on his own through a detox program that left him incapacitated.
He describes the horrors of cold turkey detox in language familiar to anyone who has been through it. He says it took 24 hours a day for three weeks, during which he was wracked with insomnia, "not even nodding off for a f***ing minute.” And when it was over he was faced with the loss of his motor skills, talking skills, thinking skills — all his skills.
“It's been a learning process,” he says. “I'm growing. I couldn't believe that anybody could be naturally happy without being on something. So I would say to anybody, 'It does get better.' "
As any recovering addict knows, there is probably no misery worse than cold-turkey detox. The fact that a superstar would describe the experience so frankly is what distinguishes this documentary film. The fact that a superstar would even go through this agony is what distinguishes Eminem.
In the end, he shares the joy of recovering addicts the world over and reminds those who may have a similar ordeal in front of them that “it does get better.” Simple concept, simply said. And that is what distinguishes Eminem’s story. It’s just possible that some addicts out there will be moved to give recovery a try. And that’s the best you can say about a documentary about one man’s addiction and a better man’s recovery. Filmmaker Matthew Cooke also interviews drug dealers, celebs such as Woody Harrelson and Russell Simmons, ex-cops, and people who have been wrongfully arrested for drug-related charges. You can see How To Make Money Selling Drugs when it opens in Los Angeles on June 28th.