And now, in the new documentary "How To Make Money Selling Drugs," Em reveals just how deep his addiction really was ... and how close he came to losing his life as a result.
"When I took my first Vicodin, it was like this feeling of 'Ahh.' Like everything was not only mellow, but [I] didn't feel any pain," Eminem says in the film. "I don't know at what point exactly it started to be a problem. I just remember liking it more and more. People tried to tell me that I had a problem. I would say 'Get that f-----g person outta here. I can't believe they said that sh-- to me. I'm not out there shooting heroin. I'm not f-----g out there putting coke up my nose. I'm not smoking crack."
Em tells director Matthew Cooke that his addiction to prescription meds quickly spiraled out of control, as he began mixing pills — "Xanax, Valium, tomato, tomatoe, it's same thing ... F--- it, take it," he says — which eventually led to him being rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
"Had I got to the hospital about two hours later, I would have died. My organs were shutting down. My liver, kidneys, everything," he says. "They were gonna have to put me on dialysis. They didn't think I was gonna make it. My bottom was gonna be death."
The rapper admits that "within a month" of being released from the hospital, he had relapsed, and was convinced his addiction would kill him. But he found strength in his role as a father — "I'm looking at my kids and [realizing] 'I need to be here for this,'" he says in the film — and got clean through a grueling, self-imposed detox.
"Coming off everything, I was literally was up 24 hours a day for three weeks straight. And I mean, not sleeping, not even nodding off for a f-----g minute," he says. "I had to regain motor skills, I had to regain talking skills. It's been a learning process, I'm growing. I couldn't believe that anybody could be naturally happy without being on something. So I would say to anybody 'It does get better.'"
It's not known when Cooke interviewed Eminem for his documentary (a publicist for the film could not be reached for comment), which, despite its audacious title, is less about breaking laws as it is changing them. Through interviews with notorious dealers, activist celebrities like Russell Simmons and Woody Harrelson, former police officers and victims of wrongful drug arrests, the doc examines our nation's often misguided war on drugs, and the policies that ruin more lives than they save.
Of course, "How To Make Money Selling Drugs" — which opens in Los Angeles on Friday — also details how a street deal can rise to cartel lord with ease, but really, the film is about exposing corruption and bringing truths to light. Like, for example, one Eminem shares at the close of his interview.
"My name is Marshall," he says. "I'm an addict."