Eminem The Epitome Of A Dual Diagnosis
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09-11-13 Category: Dual Diagnosis

Eminem is the epitome of a dual diagnosis.

Several years ago, the rapper, who is now 40 years old, spoke out about the depression that took hold of his life. In his book, The Way I Am, Eminem, real name Marshall Mathers, described his emotional reaction to the 2006 murder of Proof, a member of Eminem’s group, D12.

“I have never felt so much pain in my life,’ Marshall told Now Magazine, ‘It was tough for me to even get out of bed and I had days when I couldn’t walk, let alone write a rhyme.” The effects of Proof’s death were leading Eminem to gain an unhealthy amount of weight, and to increase his drug use.


Depression is one of the most prevalent mental illnesses, but as a society, we don’t always take it seriously. 15% of our population will experience the symptoms of depression at some point in their lifetime; that’s 47 million people. If it’s not you, it is certainly someone close to you who is feeling hopeless, worthless, and disinterested in life.

Like Eminem expressed, the feelings of seemingly chronic sadness are debilitating. Not wanting to get out of bed becomes an inability to do almost anything. Activities you once enjoyed and relationships you once valued are now meaningless, and there appears no reason to engage in any form of self-care.


In many cases, someone with the symptoms of depression attempt to self-medicate. Alcohol offers a (temporary) way to escape from the pain and despair, but depression is also an effect of drinking. Treating depression with alcohol makes the symptoms of depression worse, which makes you want to drink again, which makes you depressed, and so on, and so forth.

Heroin and prescription painkillers (opiates like Vicodin, Percocet, and OxyContin) take away all pain. Eminem found out firsthand just how much opiates can make you feel like grief has been erased. When heroin use, or one of its pharmaceutical look likes, stops, all of the pain that was numbed comes rushing back. What could have been managed by processing the pain each day has essentially been put away in a closet whose door has been flung wide open and now feels overwhelming and almost paralyzing to face.

The solution to unwanted pain? More alcohol, heroin, or painkillers. The cycle continues: depression paired with a substance abuse disorder.


Eminem is the perfect example of dual diagnosis, or two disorders co-occurring. He was addicted to Vicodin (and other substances) and suffering from clinically-diagnosable depression. Like Marshall Mathers, millions of people are diagnosed with a mental illness and a substance abuse or dependence disorder, and do not get help. When each diagnosis is not understood, and the combination is not addressed, addicts with depression, overdose, get arrested, or end up dead.

Eminem completed rehab and immediately relapsed when a friend gave him a handful of blue pills. Later, after nearly dying from an opiate overdose, the rapper was told that the pills were methadone and that he ingested the equivalent of shooting 4 bags of heroin.

The almost fatal incident did not change Eminem’s ways. Addiction is powerful, and in an effort to keep depression “treated”, in his mind, he needed to continue abusing prescription drugs.


In the documentary, How to Make Money Selling Drugs, writer and director Matthew Cooke presents the business of drugs, with the true risks and inevitable consequences of selling and using. The “War on Drugs” has been fighting against illegal street drugs for decades. The documentary alerts its viewers to the legal drug game the pharmaceutical industry and the government has created, through a Chris Rock standup clip.

Our country sends the message: don’t use marijuana, cocaine, or heroin, but drink alcohol at every occasion, give your kids Adderall, and keep popping a few Vicodin or OxyContin for that pain you had months ago.

Eminem shares his introduction to the drug that lead to his addiction: “When I took my first Vicodin, it was like this feeling of ‘Ahhh.’ Like everything was not only mellow, but didn’t feel any pain. It just kinda numbed things. I don’t know exactly when it became a problem, I just remember liking it more and more.” Drugs are created that hook the user (i.e. a long-term customer.)

Marshall is one of the 1 in 10 people who become addicted when using any drug. From all his prescription drug use, Marshall’s organs started shutting down. He nearly died; doctors told him had he gone to the hospital just hours later, he would not still be here.

There is no other way around addiction, you must be professionally treated. Addicts cannot control their own use and will not make changes until completely clean and sober.

Eminem knew he was going to die if he did not stop. Depression and drug abuse, or dual diagnosis, was ruining his life. He is now clean and trying to set a good example for his kids.

Marshall’s words to other addicts: “It does get better. Ya know. It just, it does.”

Learn more about Sovereign Health Group’s dual diagnosis treatment program by watching this video:

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