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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Rush Limbaugh Admits to Painkiller Addiction

Aired October 10, 2003 - 15:29   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Barely a week after news reports surfaced linking the top radio icon to a Florida probe of black-market painkillers, Rush Limbaugh says he is, in fact, an addict.
In a lengthy statement, Limbaugh says he's neither victim, nor role model and, immediately after Friday's show, he'll go into rehab for a third time.

Let's listen to today's statement.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW")

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I am addicted to prescription pain medication. I first started taking prescription painkillers five, six years ago, when my doctor described them to treat post-surgical pain following spinal surgery.

Unfortunately, the surgery was unsuccessful and I continued to have severe pain in my lower back and also in my neck now, due to two herniated disks. Pain which I am still experiencing because of that.

Now, rather than opt for additional surgery for these conditions, I chose to treat the pain with prescribed medication. And this medication turned out to be highly addictive. Over the past several years, I've tried to break my dependence on pain pills. And, in fact, I've twice checked myself into medical facilities in an attempt to do so.

But I recently agreed with my doctor about the next steps. So, immediately following this broadcast, I will check myself into a treatment center for the next 30 days to once and for all break the hold that this highly addictive medication has on me.

The show will continue during this time, of course. There will be an array of guest hosts who you've come to know and respect that will be sitting here.

And I want you to know something. I'm not making any excuses and I don't intend to. You know, over the years, athletes, celebrities have emerged from these treatment centers. They've come out to great fanfare and praise for conquering great demons. They're said to be great role models and examples for others. They've gotten a lot of praise for doing this. Well I want you to know, I'm no role model.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIPS: Rush Limbaugh with a statement reacting to or coming forward and admitting that he is addicted to pain killers. It's an investigation that had been taking place and led to his name involved during the purchasing of these black market drugs.

On the phone with us now, Dr. Marcia Cohen. Also listening to the words from Rush Limbaugh. First of all, Dr. Cohen, he admitted twice he's checked into medical facilities. Now, he says he's going in once and for all, going to break this habit. Can it be done?

DR. MARCIA COHEN, PATHOLOGIST; Well, yes, it can be done. The problem is these particular medications are addictive not only to stop pain or the kind of things that we usually use medications like this for, but, in fact, they give you the sense of well-being, this sense of high. And when you take enough of these medications, you start having this feeling that you have to feel that way. You have to feel good. And when you don't take the medications, you really have a downer.

So not only is it physically addicting, it's also emotionally addicting. These people can be taken off of these medications, but it does take time and persistence.

PHILLIPS: And how does this type of rehabilitation work? How long? What's involved?

COHEN: It's different for different people, depending upon how strong the addiction us is, how long the people have been using the medications, it can take longer because your body is so used to having it that when it doesn't have it, it really reacts in a negative way to the point where you can have nausea and vomiting and sweating and muscle twitching so that people take the medication again to stop the awful feelings.

I think that if you really want to stop, they can help you do it, and I mean, I certainly think anybody who has this kind of addiction does have to give it a try.

PHILLIPS: He doesn't mention the type of pain killers that he says he's been addicted to. Are there some that are worse than others?

COHEN: Well, I think that's what happens with all of these pain killers is whether it's codeine or OxyContin or any one of these types of things, even sometimes people take low doses of things like morphine, all of them have the same type of addiction. Whatever it is, they still need to go through the same process to get out of it.

And I think that when somebody, you know, sees that they're addicted to it, they can't function without it, you have to give them credit to at least try and fix the problem.

PHILLIPS: Dr. Marcia Cohen, thank you.

Once again, Rush Limbaugh coming forward, admitting he's addicted to pain killers. This came about during a black market investigation. His name was linked to that. That's how this all unfolded. At the present time, authorities are conducting an investigation into it. Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh says he's checking himself into a rehabilitation center. We'll follow the story.

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