Celebrity Addictions: Painkillers and Hollywood

Although Jackson apparently managed to kick the habit in rehab, he has not been able to kick the criticism and conjecture in the media. The singer received more allegations of child molestation and continued to display increasingly bizarre behavior, like dangling his new baby over a balcony.

Jackson's musical career may seem over, but the recent re-release of his album "Thriller," featuring collaborations with Kanye West, Akon, Fergie, will.i.am and Chris Brown, may get the "Smooth Criminal" back on the charts.



Anna Nicole Smith

This deceased celebrity heiress was famous for her soap-opera-scandalous life and her untimely death. While her death was ruled an overdose of anxiety and depression drugs, Smith had a history of painkiller addiction.



The former Playboy Playmate of the Year claimed that prescription drugs such as methadone nearly took her life.

"I actually went into a coma, you know. I almost died. And I had to learn how to walk again and all this and that," Smith told CBS News. "I had to rehabilitate myself. And then they took the nurse away, so there I was crawling — crawling to the bathroom and stuff."

The blond bombshell admitted that she became addicted to painkillers when her 89-year-old millionaire husband, J. Howard Marshall II, fell ill and died. The addiction was bad enough that Smith ended up in the Betty Ford rehabilitation center.

"It worked," Smith told Larry King in a May 2002 interview. "It got me off everything. It was hard. I hated it. I'll never go back. … They treat you terribly."



Cindy McCain

Cindy McCain, wife of presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., claimed that emotional and physical stress prompted her addiction to painkillers.

After two back surgeries, McCain became hooked on Percocet and Vicodin and continued to take the drugs during the Keating Five banking scandal surrounding the McCain couple in 1989-92.



McCain's habit worsened to the point where she began to steal pills from the American Voluntary Medical Team, an organization she founded to aid developing countries.

"I was an addict. That's why," McCain told CNN when asked about the theft. "I tell you, addiction is a very cunning enemy."

Kowal says it's important to understand the difference between what people call addiction, and what should be called a physical dependence. People may form a physical dependence and have withdrawal symptoms, but as Cindy McCain said, addiction is a much more destructive beast.

"Addiction is an inability to stop using a drug, illegally or legally, even though it's causing harm to yourself, your life or your career," Kowal said.

While it took some fast political footwork to keep the senator's reputation intact, his wife received treatment and is no longer addicted to pain medication.



Rush Limbaugh

Few celebrities have taken control of a painkiller addiction rumor like the conservative radio pundit, Rush Limbaugh.

Though the National Enquirer broke the story of Limbaugh's painkiller addiction in October 2003, Limbaugh promptly admitted on his radio show that he had a problem.



"You know I have always tried to be honest with you and open about my life," he told the millions who listen daily. "I need to tell you today that part of what you have heard and read is correct: I am addicted to prescription pain medication."

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