Did Eminem replace one addiction with another?

August 5th, 2015 | By Brittany Meadows | Posted in Addiction Recovery, Addiction Treatment, Blog, Prescription Drug Addiction

Recently, in an interview with Men’s Journal, rapper Eminem revealed details of his prescription drug addiction, his pill overdose in 2007, and how he found his road to recovery.(Warning: interview contains strong language).

First and foremost, we want to extend our congratulations to Eminem – not only on his sobriety, but his openness about sobriety, and the hard work that he has put in to achieve health and healing. There are many blogs and stories of recovery that cycle across the internet that don’t acknowledge that recovery can be grueling – even after drug rehab. So kudos to this artist who was able to “tell it like it is.” There’s no glamour in getting sober – it’s hard work – but worth every minute of it.

Eminem’s interview raises a lot of questions about addiction replacement – and when the cure for addiction is another addiction.

If you haven’t read his interview, here’s how it sums up:

Eminem was using prescriptions pills and overdosed in 2007. When he went to the hospital, he was close to 230 pounds. The rapper says, “I’m not sure how I got so big, but I have ideas. The coating on the Vicodin and the Valium I’d been taking for years leaves a hole in your stomach, so to avoid a stomachache, I was constantly eating – and eating badly.”

He goes on to say that when he completed rehab, he realized he needed to lose weight, sleep without substances, and find a way to function sober; so he started running… 17 miles per day. He became obsessive with his calories and losing the weight, and eventually dropped around 80 pounds.

After injuries, he eventually changed up his workout routine but still keeps an incredibly strict exercise program. Eminem tells Men’s Journal, “I’m pretty compulsive about working out. I feel like if I step away from it for too long, if I have a crazy week and take a five-day break, it’ll be like starting over. I’m afraid that if it goes beyond that, I might lose the motivation.”

The rapper says he understands how people replace addiction with exercise – one addiction for another, but one that is good for them.

Addiction transfer isn’t anything new – for many years, researchers have studied replacement habits in individuals – as well as animals – that have used  – or been given – drugs on a regular basis. Several studies over the years havedemonstrated animals’ preference for saline over amphetamines when they exercised – and reduced drug rates in rats when they were given treadmill exercise.

Research has also shown that exercise provides a “high” that could be crucial for those with drug and alcohol addictions – in order to combat cravings, decrease anxiety and stress. Plus, exercise allows dopamine – a chemical that is associated with feelings of happiness and pleasure – to increased in the brain.

You see, addiction develops in different compulsions and behaviors. Whether that behavior is to use drugs like heroin or meth – gambling, sex, exercise or even spending money. Neurologically speaking, people with an addiction often transfer substances and behaviors to achieve the a certain level of pleasure, although one repeated behavior or substance may work more effectively than another for different individuals. Addictive behaviors don’t change just because the drug is removed from the individual’s system. Addictive behaviors can change when those behaviors are actually treated.

 

We wish Eminem all the best in his continued journey in recovery and health, and hope his ability to be candid about the disease of addiction will inspire others to reach out for help, as well.