Eminem; Marshall Bruce Mathers III; The Real Slim Shady, is not just an icon in rap who had an unfathomable impact on hip-hop culture. He is also a man who has endured a lifetime of public controversy, private conflict, personal loss and emotional pain. Not only does this make his music career that much more powerful, but it makes his journey through addiction and recovery that much more gripping. With Eminem celebrating 10 years of sobriety this month, we take a quick look at the story of sober Slim Shady.
Eminem Celebrating Sobriety
A few days ago, between his headlining sets at this year’s Coachella, 45-year-old Marshall Mathers took to social media to share a message with his fans. On Instagram Slim Shady posted a photo of his ten-year medallion on Saturday, April 21. The circle, marked with an ‘X’ for the Roman numeral ten, is a token he received to commemorate a decade of continuous sobriety. To caption the image, he wrote:
“Celebrated my 10 years yesterday”
In just 2 days’ time, the image had already garnered over 1.7 million likes and over 33,000 comments. He wasn’t the only one utilizing his social status to share that powerful moment. Fellow rap artist and friend in sobriety Royce Da 5’9” also took to Twitter to give the real Slim Shady a shout out for his recovery milestone, writing:
“Happy sobriety birthday to my mentor @Eminem… Keep fighting the good fight homie… I love you for life”
Eminem has also shared moments of his journey through recovery with other famous sober peers, including Sir Elton John. The post prompted many fans on social media to congratulate Mathers on his anniversary. Others shared how he had helped inspire many others in recovery.
The last ten years have not been easy for Slim Shady, but it seems they have been worth it.
A Quick Look at a Legend
Long before Eminem got sober, he was a household name and best selling artist. Over his whole career, he has had a truly incredible list of accomplishments, including:
- 10 number-one albums on the Billboard 200
- Five number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100
- 4 million albums sold in the US
- 220 million records globally
- He is among the world’s best-selling artists of all time
- He is the only artist to have eight albums consecutively debut at number one on the Billboard 200
- Winner of 15 Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Album
All of this, not to mention successful clothing lines, the creation of his label Shady Records which helped launch artists like 50 Cent and Yelawolf, and his own Sirius XM Radio channel, Shade 45. He gave us such gifts as D12 and Slaughterhouse, while also inspiring countless other artists.
Eminem isn’t only known for his music, but also for the controversy surrounding him. Whether it was the ugly battles with his mother, ex-wife, or the legal trouble he was conflicted with publically, it all fueled an image of a man who lived in a courtroom fighting painful scandals. He used the pain in his creative process, and the world was given a lot of angry, violent, and even poetic moments.
The Academy Award-winning film 8 Mile, which he starred in, made him the first rap artist to ever win the award for Best Original Song with “Lose Yourself”. Followed by various other film and entertainment ventures.
Oh, and don’t forget the Marshall Mathers Foundation, which aids disadvantaged youth.
The list just goes on and on. There is not enough time here to cover the truly immeasurable impact Eminem has had on not just hip-hop culture, but on the overall culture in America.
Getting to 10 Years
Slim Shady has always been pretty public about his struggles with addiction to prescription drugs. It is laced in his image over the years and is a prominent subject of his music. Back in 2002, a fellow artist said he had been trying to straighten out, but while working on 8 Mile he was introduced to Ambien and this prescription took him deeper down the path. When talking about working on his album Encore, Slim Shady once said he would “just go into the studio and goof off [with] a pocketful of pills”.
In 2007, Eminem suffered from an accidental methadone overdose after his addiction had spiraled out of control. At one point he revealed that he was taking up to 60 Valium and 30 Vicodin pills a day. After adding Ambien to the mix, he made his way to methadone by the end of his substance abuse. In 2011 when interviewed about the overdose, he stated:
“The doctors told me I’d done the equivalent of four bags of heroin… They said I was about two hours from dying.”
In a 2011 New York Times interview Slim Shady said,
“I used to get pills wherever I could. I was just taking anything that anybody was giving to me.”
Following that near-death experience, the Detroit rap legend chose to attend an addiction treatment program in Michigan. However, he ended up relapsing short of a month out of the hospital.
He reported that his star status made rehab difficult for him to focus on himself. Instead, he chose to detox at a hospital and dove into counseling and therapy. He credits his children, including his biological daughter Hailie, and two adopted daughters Lainey and Whitney. He also gives credit to exercise, saying that running helped him find a healthier high that helped him sleep.
When looking at his story, it is absolutely remarkable the impact that Slim Shady had had on the world of hip-hop or just music in general. He has been described by many as one of the greatest artists of all time, with billions of fans all over the globe. To hear about the life he lived; through poverty, depression, desperation, and addiction, to be a living legend only speaks to the inspiration in his experience, strength and hope. We celebrate the path Eminem walks and the work he has done over the years to make it this far.
Thank you for sharing, Slim Shady.
It can be a real inspiration to see some of the most successful people are recovering alcoholics and addicts. It reminds us that we all can suffer the same way and that we all have the same chance to build a better future. The more heroes we have every day that step up and share their message of hope, the more hope we may have that people seek the help they desperately need. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now.
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Most people who own a television have probably seen Gabriel Byrne at work, but just in case you haven’t, go watch The Usual Suspects. In fact, if you haven’t seen that movie in a few months, go watch it again. Totally worth it. Or you may recognize him from one of many other roles, including:
- Stigmata (movie)
- End of Days (movie)
- Vikings (series)
- Marco Polo (series)
Gabriel Byrne is Irish born actor who has also a grown into a successful film director, film producer, writer, cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator. Since the beginning of his acting career in 1979, he has struck the silver screen and small screen a multitude of times with powerful and intense performances.
He won a Golden Globe Award back in the HBO drama In Treatment, which aired from 2008 to 2011. That role also earned him nominations for various other awards.
But just last week the 67-year-old actor accepted another awesome honor- a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA). The following night, he took the time to reflect on what he considers one of his biggest victories– his 21 years of recovery from alcohol.
Gabriel Byrne on Drinking and Recovery
During an interview on Ireland’s The Late Late Show,
“I think like a lot of people, I drank to escape from myself and to escape from the pressure that I felt around me. But I knew that I could never handle it, I was absolutely allergic to it. It was not a good thing for me to do.”
“With this lifetime achievement thing, it’s not about the work, it’s of a life and one of the biggest victories to me in my life was that personal one of stopping that and saying I’m not going to be that person anymore.”
But Gabriel Byrne didn’t stop with discussing his own issues with alcohol. He also spoke about his feeling toward the culture in Ireland which endorses drinking.
“That kind of thing became to me kind of frightening because my drinking was spiraling into a place where I couldn’t remember what I did.”
“One day I woke up and said, ‘If I don’t stop this, I am going to die.’”
Byrne admits that it took him a long time to be brave enough to admit he had a problem and needed help. His agent of 30 years, Teri Hayden, was instrumental in getting him the help he needed. She was the first person he went to for help. Describing walking into a room full of strangers looking for help with his drinking Gabriel Byrne says,
“It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.”
After over two decades in sobriety, it seems Gabriel Byrne seems committed to his work as both an actor, an activist and an advocate for recovery. He also acknowledges that a lot has changed since he left Ireland for the United States, adding that he is actually encouraged by how the culture is shifting. He is happy to see now that it is no longer strange in Ireland for people to recognize their drinking problems and ask for help.
We love sharing celebrity recovery stories because they remind us that anyone can be impacted by addiction. Actors, artists and musicians often experience the same devastation that can be caused when drugs take hold of their lives, and their stories of overcoming fear and stigma to get help can be inspiring. Everyone might not have access to the same resources as celebrities, but there are still effective treatment options. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
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(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
I remember in junior high school when the guys and I pressured my friends mom to drive through a snow storm to the concert. After bugging a couple buddies to pitch in and buy me and my friend Chris tickets to see Linkin Park live in Columbus, Ohio for their 2003 tour with Hoobastank, Story of the Year and POD. While some of my crew preferred these bands I had history with Linkin Park albums:
- Hybrid Theory
I mean come on; Meteora was one of the highest selling alternative music albums of all time! Hybrid Theory went multi-Platinum in several countries! You don’t have to love Linkin Park to acknowledge the impact this band had on music.
We were only 13 or 14 years old, and it was a massive crowd, probably full of lost kids just like us. Linkin Park is that sometimes melodic, sometimes growling scream that spoke to something in so many people. At 11 and 12 years old, when their fame was just beginning, their songs put words to things I didn’t know how to say. It was gloom and rage that inspired millions of people.
Granted in years since, I have grown away from their changes in sound and style. But I remember having the LP patches and stickers all over my stuff, next to my Tupac and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
I remember wanting to dye my hair and spike it out… because punk rock! And to freak out my mom.
And I remember listening to Reanimation on repeat trying to learn all the new words to remixes of my old favorites.
I remember when they did a remix album Collison Course with Jay Z.
And I remember stomping around the street in my small Midwestern neighborhood, late night in the pouring rain, banging my head to “One Step Closer” feeling like the most misunderstood kid ever.
So when the news broke today that the lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington had died it was so surreal. But when you look back at the artists music and his life, we have always been given a window into his pain, through a fierce puncturing scream and emotional lyrics.
Initial reports from TMZ were later reiterated by various sources of Bennington’s passing. Brian Elias, the chief of operations for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, confirmed the death reports. At the tragically young age of 41, Chester Bennington leaves behind 6 children from two relationships. Not to mention a loyal family of musicians and millions of fans all over the world.
According to Elias the singer’s death is currently being investigated as a possible suicide. Chester Bennington was close friends with the other legendary rock vocalist Chris Cornell, who recently committed suicide in May. On what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday, Bennington appears to have taken his own life.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter were lit up in a matter of hours with thousands and thousands of fans sending their love and support to Bennington’s family and the band. Celebrities from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to director Joss Whedon, rockers like Corey Taylor of Slipknot and graphic artists like BossLogic, to Chance the Rapper, Killer Mike and Cypress Hill took to the internet to pay homage and talk about how Linkin Park’s music helped them through tough times.
Chester Bennington: Pain and Addiction
With songs that were full of dark and deeply personal themes and words, it is not hard to imagine that Chester Bennington faced his demons. But Bennington himself has been open about his fight with drug and alcohol addiction throughout his life, and his battles with the abuse he faced in his childhood.
Skimming through multiple sites and past interviews, you find that in life Chester Bennington had seen his fair share of darkness. In an interview years back he opened up about being molested and beaten by an older male friend beginning at age seven. At 11 years old, his parents divorced and he was forced to live with his father. After discovering drugs, he used:
At one point saying in an interview in 2016 he was taking 11 hits of acid a day:
“I dropped so much acid I’m surprised I can still speak. I’d smoke a bunch of crack, do a bit of meth and just sit there and freak out. Then I’d smoke opium to come down. I weighed 110 pounds.”
Benning was able to avoid heavy drug use for a while, but after becoming hugely successful, drugs found their way back into his life. For a few years after getting clean in 2006, Bennington went on to openly discussed how his fight with addiction and his recovery fed into the roaring rage and agony in his music. In an interview in 2009 with Noisecreep, Bennington stated:
“I have been able to tap into all the negative things that can happen to me throughout my life by numbing myself to the pain so to speak and kind of being able to vent it through my music,”
“I don’t have a problem with people knowing that I had a drinking problem. That’s who I am and I’m kind of lucky in a lot of ways cause I get to do something about it.”
One of the most well-known songs Linkin Park ever released was the haunting and heartbroken song “Crawling” from their debut album Hybrid Theory. The video was pretty cool visually for its time, and the song itself is pretty much the pinnacle of emotional screaming “nu rock” of the early 2000s. Linkin Park later won the Grammy for best hard rock performance in 2001 for “Crawling”.
You want to see something intense, watch the clips of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington sing “Crawling” live on stage in 2008.
Later on Bennington was quoted as saying this song particularly was,
“- about feeling like I had no control over myself in terms of drugs and alcohol.”
He went on to explain the feeling of being able to write the words, sing that feeling into his music and win a Grammy after selling millions of records. In another interview, when discussing his back and forth battle with addiction and relapse Chester Bennington talked about the song “Breaking the Habbit” and how upon reading the lyrics, he broke into tears because he felt that at the time his band mate and fellow vocalist Mike Shinoda was writing about his life.
In His Own Words
In an interview that recently became on viral video in light of the tragic death of Chester Bennington, the singer himself made a profound statement about struggling with life on life’s terms, depression and the desire to give up, saying:
“None of us are immune from just shit happening to you, and not to you but just making poor choices or being human. There’s always that element and for me life got really weird and really hard all at one time.
There was a few times over the last couple years where I was just ready to throw in the towel and just give up on everything, but I found that, for me most of my suffering is self-inflicted.”
He later continues stating:
“I’ve always had this depressive side, and I think that’s something some people may not have gone down the road of injecting and living on the streets and that kind of stuff, so they think ‘Oh my story’s not that bad’. Dude, no man, if you’re here, if you’re here, it’s that bad.”
His words have always been good for striking a nerve. Now especially these words are easy to relate to, and easy to see how Bennington was desperate for something… what, we may never really know.
In death, Bennington has shown us that we don’t always know what people are going through. Back in 2016 he had told an interviewer from Metal Hammer,
“The idea that success equals happiness pisses me off. It’s funny to think that just because you’re successful you’re now immune to the full range of the human experience.”
It has become another tragic and heartbreaking example of how success in the professional or monetary sense does not make someone happy. That recovery and sobriety can be a battle, and no amount of money or prestige can make someone content with their own mind.
In life, Chester Bennington used his music to teach us about experiencing our pain as a beautiful thing, and to find ways to express it. His music showed a lot of young people they were not alone, and that being hurt did not mean they had to be afraid. And even if you were afraid, he admitted that fear is how we fall. He spoke openly in interviews countless times over the years about the traumas he personally had to face, and about the devastation he had put himself through in that process. Chester Bennington taught us we didn’t have to be perfect to be transparent, and for some of us gave us a reason to relish in the fury of youth.
Bennington talked about finding something worth fighting for, whether it was freedom and human rights, or identity and creativity. By uniting so many people from all over the globe in common emotional intensity, it is music like that of Linkin Park that also removes some of the stigma surrounding depression, addiction and trauma. And this news has inspired a greater call to action for anyone struggling with substance use disorder, depression or abuse to reach out and find help any way they can.
From one kid who knows depression, anxiety and alcoholism… and who discovered unique forms of self-expression through your music and the various projects you were involved with visually and otherwise, thank you for all you gave us.
“In the memory you’ll find me
Eyes burning up
The darkness holding me tightly
Until the sun rises up”
In memory of
March 20, 1976 – July 20, 2017
If you or someone you love is struggling, please do not wait. Please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.
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