Addiction Recovery - Celebrity Addiction

DMX: Learning From the Loss of a Giant

DMX Learning From the Loss of a Giant

Like most of us, Earl Simmons had his struggles. He had successes, too – many of them. Simmons, better known as DMX, made his debut with 2 hit albums.

Like most of us, Earl Simmons had his struggles.

He had successes, too – many of them. Simmons, better known to most as DMX, made his debut with two hit albums released only months apart in the same year. When his fifth album dropped in 2003, DMX became the first (and only) artist to have five consecutive albums debut at number one on the Billboard 200 chart. He apparently came close to making it six a couple of years later.

DMX was one of those rare artists who pleased critics and fans equally; his albums blasted from cars and clubs while garnering rave reviews from Pitchfork, the Source and other tastemakers. Fewer rappers had more distinct voices; DMX’s was a raspy bark that seemed to jump out of speakers. He acted as well, generating a respectably long list of appearances in movies and on television.

About those struggles: DMX’s childhood was barely deserving of the name. He suffered intense abuse at the hands of family, endured truly desperate poverty, had multiple brushes with law enforcement and survived a case of bronchial asthma so severe he was taken to the local emergency room most nights in his earliest years. Additionally, DMX was given vodka at age 7 by an aunt (early drinking is a risk factor for developing alcohol use disorders later in life, studies show) and said he was tricked into smoking crack cocaine at 14.

Combined, those experiences likely contributed to a lifetime of rehab stays, substance abuse, crime and run-ins with the justice system, which included overdoses and a stay in prison.

When DMX died from a heart attack seemingly brought on by an overdose in early April at age 50, he became an easy target to look at and say what not to do. We tend to get caught up with the negatives when someone famous struggles or dies, focusing on the circumstances on their end rather than any positive contributions they made while alive.

Let’s stop.

Don’t Define Yourself By Your Mistakes

It can be easy to dismiss a figure like DMX as just a thug or an addict, especially if you have no direct experience with the sort of difficulties he had. But you don’t have to like his music to recognize him as someone who was far more complex than his reputation may have suggested.

DMX acknowledged his struggles with addiction and was open with his story. While his albums have tales of violence and crime, there are also stories of survival, conversations with God, and a pronounced introspective streak. DMX was known to frequently pray on stage during his concerts. He even went viral not long after his death thanks to a Twitter poster who related a surprising, engaging conversation she had with the rapper on a plane to San Diego.

It’s a lesson that can (and should!) extend to anyone in addiction recovery. More importantly, it’s a lesson people in treatment should extend to themselves. We are more than our mistakes; defining yourself solely by the regrettable or bad things we’ve made is self-defeating. Studies have shown that self-compassion helps people in recovery develop better emotional resources, making treatment and better outcomes more likely.

Finally, DMX’s willingness to share his story and his struggles wasn't oversharing – it’s healthy. Multiple studies have shown talking about one’s problems is beneficial and even healthy, releasing pent-up emotions and allowing for a greater perspective of oneself.

“So often, talking about your problems is viewed as a sign of weakness, when it’s actually one of the bravest things you can do,” DMX said on the Talib Kweli podcast linked to earlier in this blog. You don’t have to like the music (or even the man) to recognize how true that statement is.

Finding a treatment program that works for you is key to getting and staying healthy. A community of caring, supportive individuals is a great resource for overcoming struggles with addiction and mental disorders. If you’d like to learn more about cocaine abuse, our programs, treatment phases, and our mission, please contact us now.

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Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Addiction Recovery

Celebrity Addiction

August 18, 2021