Did Drugs Cause Limbaugh's Hearing Loss?

"Rush Limbaugh's done exactly the right thing. He's admitted he has a problem and sought treatment," said Susan Foster, a vice president and director of policy research and analysis at the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

While Limbaugh publicly admitted his addiction after his former housekeeper talked to a tabloid about his pain killer abuse, he may have been in denial about his problems for some time.

During one of his radio shows, Limbaugh said that whites are not punished for drug abuse as often as blacks are.

"We have to have more white convictions," Limbaugh said. "It seems to me a lot of white people are getting away, and that would make me mad. As a citizen it makes me mad. I don't care what the color of my skin is. It makes me mad that people are getting away with it."

Limbaugh says he got addicted because of chronic pain. It will be best for him to work with a physician to find a regime that doesn't lead to addiction or to try alternatives to pills, Foster said.

In the past, Limbaugh has shown no mercy for celebrities who are addicted to drugs, and has in fact used his radio show as a platform to lambaste them.

"It's a crime because everybody knows it's no good," Limbaugh said in one of his past radio shows. "It's destructive, it's demoralizing and the people who are caught doing this stuff ought to be sent away. They ought to be punished."

Such statements have put Limbaugh's credibility on the line.

Even before the conservative star admitted his addiction on Friday, it had already become political fodder for Democrats.

"In order to be assured prescription drugs in this country, you could hire Rush Limbaugh's housekeeper or elect me president of the United States," said Sen. John Kerry, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

Meanwhile, Limbaugh didn't ask for sympathy from his fans. He told his loyal listeners that whatever the outcome of his fight against addiction, he should not be viewed as a role model.

"I refuse to let anyone think I am doing something great here, when there are people you never hear about, who face long odds and never resort to such escapes," he said.

Foster says no one can predict whether or not Limbaugh will make good progress over the next 30 days.

"Some people can get it, can solve the problem, get into recovery, and maintain recovery in 30 days," Foster said. "With other people it takes much longer," she said.

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