The 51-year-old singer, songwriter and, yes, daughter of Elvis Presley opened up for the first time about her “own addiction to opioids and painkillers” in a foreword she wrote for the book The United States of Opioids: A Prescription for Liberating a Nation in Pain by Harry Nelson. She made it clear that she’s “grateful to be alive today.”
“You may read this and wonder how, after losing people close to me, I also fell prey to opioids,” wrote Presley, whose father had an opioid addiction and ex-husband Michael Jackson died of an overdose.
She explained, “I was recovering after the  birth of my daughters, Vivienne and Finley, when a doctor prescribed me opioids for pain. It only took a short-term prescription of opioids in the hospital for me to feel the need to keep taking them” due to their dangerous addictiveness.
Presley described it as “a difficult path to overcome this dependence, and to put my life back together. Even in recent years, I have seen too many people I loved struggle with addiction and die tragically from this epidemic. It is time for us to say goodbye to shame about addiction. We have to stop blaming and judging ourselves and the people around us... That starts with sharing our stories.”
While Presley tried to keep her own battle private, much of it was revealed within divorce filings dissolving her marriage to musician Michael Lockwood. On the Today show last August, she acknowledged her addiction, without getting into specifics, saying her troubles started at age 45. She said her therapist called her “a miracle” and told her, “I don't know how you're still alive.”
Presley admitted in the book that she was initially “ambivalent” about writing the foreword. “I had never openly spoken in public about my own addiction to opioids and painkillers,” she wrote. “I wasn’t sure that I was ready to share on such a personal topic.” But she decided to do it “to help other people.”
“Across America and the world, people are dying in mind-boggling numbers because of opioid and other drug overdoses,” she wrote. “Many more people are suffering silently, addicted to opioids and other substances. I am writing this in the hope that I can play a small part in focusing attention on this terrible crisis. I experienced firsthand how hard it is to cut through all of the bad information out there to get help. We all need to educate ourselves and the people around us on the dangers of opioids and other drugs, and understand what we can do to keep ourselves and the people we love safe.... Acknowledging that we are all at risk is not a measure of weakness, but of honesty.”
Presley also mentioned her children — in addition to the10-year-old twins, she is a mom to actress Riley Keough, 30, and Benjamin Keough, 26. “As I write this, I think of my four children, who gave me the purpose to heal,” she wrote, and that made her think of “the countless parents who have lost children to opioids and other drugs.”
She ended by saying that she is “grateful to be alive today” and especially appreciative “to have four beautiful children who have given me a sense of purpose that has carried me through dark times.”
Amid Presley’s divorce proceedings, she temporarily lost custody of her twin daughters — who went to live with her mother, Priscilla Presley — amid the drama. In a 2017 deposition, which was obtained by the tabloid Radar Online, she reportedly admitted to abusing cocaine, opioids, painkillers and alcohol.
“The last three years I … had to go to rehab several times,” she said, later putting the exact number at somewhere between three and five stints in a Mexican treatment facility. “I was a mess. I couldn’t stop.” (As a teen, Presley was also treated at the Castle, a Scientology center in Hollywood, ABC News reported in 2003. She remained a member of the controversial organization until 2012.)
Presley said that her addiction was especially bad as their marriage ended in 2016.
“The last year of our marriage, I was abusing cocaine terribly,” she said, according to the court documents. Asked if her drug use was heavy, she said, “It was bad, yeah.” The mixing came the last few years: “I didn’t mix the pills and alcohol until, like, the last two years.”
Presley and Lockwood, her fourth husband, have been fighting about finances since they split. She was also suing a former business manager whom she accused of squandering her $100 million fortune.
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