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Stevie Nicks, 2009

"Singer Stevie Nicks has publicized the dangers of Klonopin by describing her own detox from the prescription drug as "hellish" and worse than withdrawing from cocaine or heroin. In fact, Nicks was introduced to Klonopin at the Betty Ford clinic, with the intention of assisting her with new-found sobriety! Recovering addicts and alcoholics have all too often been helped off of one drug addiction by being introduced to a new one, all with the best of intentions, of course." - Benzos: more dangerous than the conditions they treat? Occasional Planet, September 14, 2011.

"Seventies-era rock star Stevie Nicks is the poster girl for the perils of Klonopin addiction. In almost every interview, the former lead singer of Fleetwood Mac makes a point of mentioning the toll her abuse of the drug has taken on her life. This month, while promoting her new solo album, In Your Dreams, she told Fox that she blamed Klonopin for the fact that she never had children. "The only thing I'd change [in my life] is walking into the office of that psychiatrist who prescribed me Klonopin. That ruined my life for eight years," she said. "God knows, maybe I would have met someone, maybe I would have had a baby."

Nicks checked herself into the Betty Ford Clinic in 1986 to overcome a cocaine addiction. After her release, the psychiatrist in question prescribed a series of benzos - first Valium, then Xanax, and finally Klonopin - supposedly to support her sobriety. "[Klonopin] turned me into a zombie, she told US Weekly in 2001, according to the website benzo.org.uk, one of many patient-run sites on the Internet offering information about benzodiazepine addiction, withdrawal and recovery. Nicks has described the drug as a "horrible, dangerous drug," and said that her eventual 45-day hospital detox and rehab from the drug felt like "somebody opened up a door and pushed me into hell." Others have described Klonopin's effects as beginning with an energized sense of euphoria but ending up with horrifying sense of anxiety and paralysis, akin to sticking your tongue into an electric outlet, or suddenly feeling that your brain is on fire." - America's Most Dangerous Pill? AlterNet, June 1, 2011.

"Klonopin is a horrible, dangerous drug," says Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks talks about her addiction to Klonopin, a tranquilizer prescribed to help her get over her raging cocaine habit.

"I was really sick," she says. Even though her years of cocaine abuse left a hole in her head the size of a Sacajawea gold dollar, she claims that the Klonopin did far more damage. "It was not my drug of choice," she says. "I'm not a downer person. I was looking for things that made me want to clean the house and shop, write songs and stay up for four days. I was sad and I was sick. I didn't really understand right up until the end that it was the Klonopin that was making me crazy. I really didn't realize it was that drug because I was taking it from a doctor and it was prescribed. It just hit me really hard that that was the foundation for why I was completely falling apart."

Nicks says the last time she used cocaine on stage was during a concert at Red Rocks in 1986. It was a turning point for her. Afterwards, she went straight to the Betty Ford Clinic. But in attempting to help herself, she encountered a problem far worse than her cocaine problem - a new addiction to prescription drugs. Fresh out a rehab, a psychiatrist put Stevie on a tranquilizer called Klonopin. Generally prescribed for seizures and panic attacks, experts say it should not be taken for more than nine weeks. Stevie says she took it for eight years, learning way too late that Klonopin is highly addictive and can have side effects like depression and weight gain. "My woman's vanity could not deal with that at all. After being a rock 'n' roll sex symbol for all that time, and then all of a sudden to be 'little fat girl' was just so unacceptable to me. I could see the disappointment in people's faces when they'd see me walk in." It took 47 days for the singer to detox from the prescription drug, "...and it was horrible," she says. "My hair turned gray. My skin molted. I couldn't sleep, I was in so much pain. Legs aching, muscle cramps... The rock star in me wanted to get in a limousine and go to Cedar's Sinai and say, 'Give me some Demerol because I am in pain.' And the other side of me said, 'You will fight out this 47 days.'"

After the photos were over, the event was winding down and people began to disperse. I caught Stevie's attention and told her that I wanted to thank her for coming out and talking about Klonopin. Someone close to me has been struggling with depression and was medicated with Klonopin, and as soon as I put it together that this was the medication that had wrecked Stevie so badly, I talked to my friend about it. She went to another doctor who confirmed that it wasn't right for her, and she's now gradually scaling down on it. I told Stevie that her courage in discussing that dark part of her life had made a direct, positive impact on someone else's. She said, "Well, I'm on a mission! Tell your friend my heart is with her, and that she should spread the word!"

"Klonopin is a horrible, dangerous drug," says Nicks, an addict for eight years. "Doctors are dying to put you on drugs: 'Feeling a little nervous? Here, let's mask everything so you don't have a personality anymore.'

"The overwhelming feeling of wellness and calm equals blah, nothing. My creativity went away. The fabulous Stevie everyone knew just disappeared. I became what I call the 'whatever' person. I didn't care about anything anymore. I got very heavy. One day I looked in the mirror and said, 'I don't know you.' And I went straight to the hospital for 47 days." USA Today, May 4, 2001.

Because for eight years before - and it always comes back to this, which I'm sorry about - but it comes back to the [anti-anxiety medication] Klonopin. And that was Street Angel - the little street urchin on Klonopin. And it was a sad record. Writers do not thrive on drugs like Klonopin and Prozac. It takes your soul; it takes your creativity; it takes your love of running home at night and getting out a typewriter or getting out your paper and pencil and writing something that you love. It takes that away. You don't care anymore. So Street Angel was all about just not caring. And that's horrible to me. One of the few things that I've never not done in my life is not care. And I didn't care for a long time. The lows for me were probably the last years of cocaine in the 1980s, and the last four years of the Klonopin.

Why were you on Klonopin in the first place? Basically, when I got off cocaine I ended up going to a doctor because everyone around me said, "Well, you need to do something to stay off cocaine." Not really understanding that I was off of cocaine. All I had to do was go through Betty Ford one time. And that was it. I have never seen that drug or done it, or been around anybody who has done it since I stopped.

So basically, I went to see a doctor just to check in with somebody and let everybody know that I was OK. I guess when most people go off Klonopin they have a very hard time. I wasn't one of those people, but he didn't know that. So he suggested that I go on this drug for my nerves, and I just said OK to get everybody to leave me alone. Well, what a big mistake. I really wonder where I would be now, what I would have done if those eight years were full of creativity and love, and good things instead of full of nothing.

I've heard detox from pills is the toughest. How was it for you? I felt like somebody opened up a door and pushed me into hell.

And your life now? I'm very proud of myself. I wish it had never happened. I wasn't myself. Doctors who prescribe these pills are mushing out people's real moods. I discovered that I like me with all my moods.

Biographical Note

A "peace-and-love" folk singer, Stevie Nicks' lyrics created the vibe that helped propel '70s supergroup Fleetwood Mac to fame.

Stevie Nicks was born Stephanie Lynn Nicks in 1948 in Phoenix, Arizona. She met Lindsey Buckingham during her senior year of high school in California and together they formed the band Fritz, enjoying mild success in the California music scene. In 1973 they released Buckingham-Nicks, their first and only album as a duo. Soon after, the couple was recruited by Mick Fleetwood and John and Christine McVie to join Fleetwood Mac. The new lineup released a self-titled album in 1975, which sold several million copies. Fleetwood Mac's landmark album, Rumours, was released in 1977 and became one of the biggest-selling albums of all time - with more than 25 million copies sold to date. However, during the recording of the album Nicks and Buckingham's relationship fell apart and the McVies divorced, severely altering the chemistry of the band. After the release of Tusk, (1979) their successful follow-up to Rumours, the band's prestige gradually eroded. Finally, in 1987, after the lackluster Tango in the Night album, Buckingham quit the band.

Nicks toured with Fleetwood Mac through 1990, through the veritable river of new members who came and went. During this time, she carried on a solo career, which included the albums: Bella Donna (1981), The Wild Heart (1983), Rock a Little (1985), The Other Side of the Mirror (1989), Timespace - The Best of Stevie Nicks (1991), and Street Angel (1994). Her songs have been covered by other artists, such as the Smashing Pumpkins cover of her ballad "Landslide."

Nicks and the other members of Fleetwood Mac reunited in 1997 to record the retrospective album The Dance and launch a much-anticipated comeback tour.

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