Paula Abdul On Painkiller Addiction: 'I Could Have Killed Myself'

Paula Abdul Painkiller Addiction

After years of public speculation, Paula Abdul has revealed that she suffered for years from a reliance on pain medication — a habit that left her close to death and in a rehabilitation facility.

The 'American Idol' judge disclosed her ordeal in an interview with Ladies' Home Journal. 'I could have killed myself,' the 46-year-old Abdul told the magazine.

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She has suffered from chronic pain since a high school cheerleading accident left her with an injured disc in her neck and has since experienced injuries like a broken leg, sustained while rehearsing in 1991; a neck injury in a 1992 car crash; and partial paralysis in a 1993 airplane crash that required 15 spinal surgeries. To continue performing through a hectic schedule, Abdul relied on prescription painkillers, injections of lidocaine and Chinese medicine.

'I couldn't cancel my tour. I didn't want anyone to count me out,' she said. 'I tried to keep everything hush-hush.'

Several years ago, Abdul was diagnosed with Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome, a chronic neurological condition characterized by severe burning pain and tissue swelling. The disorder also caused teeth-chattering and skin lesions for Abdul.

The 'Idol' judge wore a patch that delivered a dose of medication approximately 80 times more powerful than morphine, took a nerve medication to relieve her symptoms and occasionally used a muscle relaxer. But the pain became so severe that it disrupted her sleep and left her acting 'weird,' Abdul admitted, an acknowledgement of the sometimes-bizarre behavior she displayed on the 'American Idol' set.

In a 2005 interview, Abdul claimed she was not hooked on pain medication. 'Drugs?' she said to People magazine . 'I'm not addicted to pills of any kind.' But last fall, Abdul finally checked into the La Costa Resort & Spa, a rehab facility in Carlsbad, California.

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'I could have killed myself,' Abdul told Ladies' Home Journal. 'Withdrawal — it's the worst thing. I was freezing cold, then sweating hot, then chattering and in so much pain. It was excruciating. But at my very core, I did not like existing the way I had been.'