BY BRIAN McCOLLUM
FREE PRESS POP MUSIC WRITER
By mid-July, Eminem's fight for sleep had become one of the most intense battles he'd ever faced -- a struggle that would lead to his admission into a drug rehabilitation center this week.
The hip-hop star had just kicked off his first U.S. tour in three years, a 5-week run that was to take him across the country and back again before closing with a hometown Detroit show.
Leading up to the tour, the rapper's closest advisers knew he'd often grappled to get proper rest. But as the shows got under way, what unfolded before them was a scenario that one associate called "unbelievable, and then alarming."
That was the stark picture painted this week by people within Eminem's close circle of family members and professional colleagues, as the artist born Marshall Mathers entered treatment at Brighton Hospital for an addiction to Ambien, a commonly prescribed sleep aid.
He had checked himself into the facility after meeting with a group
of friends and associates Monday afternoon at his Oakland Township
The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive
Lou Marin, a hospital spokesman, said Thursday night he could not
confirm Eminem's status as a patient at Brighton Hospital because of
federal hospital privacy laws.
Interscope Records released a statement about 8 p.m. Thursday
acknowledging that Eminem "is under doctors' care ... being treated
for dependency on sleep medication."
The statement helped stem assorted rumors that had begun circulating
Tuesday, when the Eminem camp had announced the cancellation of his
upcoming European tour and cited "exhaustion complicated by other
Eminem's situation is perhaps one of the rare occasions in the music
business when "exhaustion" really means exhaustion -- not merely a
cover for problems ranging from cocaine addiction to poor ticket
sales, which were among many theories offered by speculative fans.
This week's developments are the culmination of what associates say
has been growing unrest for Eminem, who has rarely paused since
emerging on the national scene.
It's that same weariness, a product of public demands and his own
intense demeanor, that has brought him to the brink of a dramatic
career shift. As the Free Press reported last month, Eminem may be
giving up the limelight for work behind the scenes.
As his tour unfolded into July, sources told the Free Press this
week, the rapper increasingly struggled to sleep, reaching a point
where he was getting about an hour at most each night.
Eminem became stricken by the inevitable effects of insomnia, which
often include severe disorientation and loss of short-term memory.
Eminem has battled for much of his life to get enough sleep, an issue
that has plagued many of those on the maternal side of his family.
"We don't require much rest, so we tend to go until we drop," said a
family member. "Kind of like racehorses, racing until falling over."
With the tour and its accompanying frenzy dominating his focus, and
the rapper getting less and less sleep, Eminem began increasing his
intake of Ambien, for which he had a legal prescription, multiple
sources told the Free Press.
But his usage backfired on him. The higher doses kept him from
getting any sleep -- a well-documented reaction to an overabundance
As the tour ground on, Eminem began spending little time on the road,
often hiring a jet to fly him from Detroit to his concert date and
"He was trying to get some refuge and relief by staying close to his
own home," an associate said Thursday night.