Timbaland on Beating OxyContin Addiction: “I Didn’t Want to Be Old and Taking These Pills”

By | Posted November 27, 2017
"I saw where I would be if I don't change, and where I could be if I did."
Photo Credit: Mark Nguyen

The greatest musicians are also the most susceptible to the underpinnings of fame: depression, addiction, and so on. Just ask legendary producer Timbaland who, in his latest Rolling Stone profile, admitted that his OxyContin addiction almost destroyed his career. 


Like too many pain pill addictions, Timabaland’s began as a prescription. He was put on the pills in his early thirties to manage pain from a gunshot he sustained as a teen. His use steadily exceeded his needs, though, and as his career began to enter troubled waters, his addiction overtook him.

“Once you're not popping, it plays with your mind,” Timbaland told Rolling Stone’s Jonathan Ringen. “The pills helped block out the noise – I'd just sleep all day. I remember Jay-Z told me one time, 'Don't do no more interviews' – because I was saying crazy shit.”

For Timbo, his struggles came to a head when he went through what he believes to be a near-death experience with Oxy. Near-choking in his sleep and moving towards a nondescript light, Timbaland was certain that was the end for him. He woke up gasping for air, but also with a fresh lease on life.

“I didn't want to be old and taking these pills,” he attested. “[T]hrough that whole thing I saw life – I saw where I would be if I don't change, and where I could be if I did.”

While not every story on drug addiction will have a happy or hopeful ending, Timbaland’s story is one of the important few that show other addicts there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, fewer young artists will have to come face to face with their mortality to reach that realization.

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