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Paula Abdul on Struggle With Pain Killers: "I Could Have Killed Myself"

USMagazine, Tuesday, May 5, 2009, 10:43am (PDT)
  • In a shocking new interview, Paula Abdul reveals that her reliance on painkillers got so bad she could have died.

    As a dancer, Abdul, 46, says she turned to a combination of painkillers -- including regular shots of lidocaine -- and Chinese medicine to get her through her grueling routines.

    "I couldn't cancel my tour. I didn't want anyone to count me out," she says in June's Ladies' Home Journal. "I tried to keep everything hush-hush."

    Adds Abdul, "I'm an old school professional. Never let them see you sweat."

    But that became increasingly difficult for Abdul, who had suffered debilitating pain caused by an unusual series of accidents (including a cheerleading mishap at 17 that injured a disc in her neck).

    By 2005, she was diagnosed with "reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome," a chronic neurological disorder that causes severe pain. It resulted in teeth-chattering and shingles-like lesions.

    Abdul says she wore a patch that delivered a pain medication about 80 times more potent than morphine and took a nerve medication to relieve her symptoms.

    Sometimes, she adds, she also took a muscle relaxer.

    But the pain got so bad it that it often left her sleepless and caused her to "get weird," she says.

    A combination of these factors prompted many fans to believe that the "American Idol" judge was high on the air.

    Determined to overcome her habit, she checked into the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., last Thanksgiving.

    "I could have killed myself," Abdul tells the magazine. "Withdrawal it's the worst thing. I was freezing cold, then sweating hot, then chattering and in so much pain. It was excruciating."

    "At my very core," she concludes, "I did not like existing the way I had been."

    These days, Abdul -- who just dropped a new single, " I'm Just Here for the Music" -- is searching for love.

    "I'm working on finding that guy," she says. "I'm just like every other girl who wants to find a soul mate and live happily ever after."

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