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On Friday night, April 2, 2021, rapper DMX was rushed to the hospital after suffering a heart attack where he currently remains on life support. The Grammy nominated rap artist’s former manager, Nakia Walker, told the New York Times that DMX is currently in a vegetative state. DMX’s attorney, Murray Richman, stated, “We are concerned. It would be disingenuous of me to suggest that I’m not a worried man at this particular point.” Some reports have stated that the rapper suffered from an overdose which caused the heart attack. Currently the overdose is unconfirmed, but DMX has struggled with addiction throughout much of his life, spending time in rehab and suffering legal consequences due to possession of drugs.
On Monday, April 5, 2021, a vigil was held for DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, outside of White Plains Hospital in New York where he is receiving treatment. The vigil was held by his family who stated, “We ask that you please keep Earl/DMX and us in your thoughts, wishes, and prayers as well as respect our privacy as we face these challenges.” The crowd on Monday included fans and family, including his ex-wife Tashera Williams and fiancée Desiree Lindstrom. Simmons, age 50, is a father to 15 children. His youngest son with Lindstrom is only 4 years old.
Simmons has been open about his substance abuse and how it has influenced his life. In a November 2020 interview, Simmons shared that the first time he used Crack Cocaine he was only 14 years old. In the mid 1980s when Simmons was starting in the music industry, he met a local rapper and his mentor named Ready Ron. At the age of 14, Simmons said he didn’t use any substances, stating in an interview with Talib Kweli, “I didn’t smoke cigarettes, I didn’t smoke weed, I didn’t do anything, 14-years-old.” That was until one day his mentor Ready Ron passed him a blunt that was laced with Crack. Simmons expressed his sorrow and frustration, saying in the interview, “Why would you do that to a child? He knew how I looked up to him. Why would you do that to somebody who looks up to you?”
In 2016, Simmons was found unconscious in a hotel parking lot in Yonkers, New York. He had overdosed and was not breathing when police arrived. A medic administered Narcan, a medication used to treat Opioid overdoses in emergency situations. No drugs were found at the scene, but Page Six reported that a witness said Simmons had taken a “powdered drug” before the overdose.
Simmons has entered treatment for substance abuse several times. In 2017, the rap star canceled his upcoming concerts to return to rehab. His Instagram shared the news, stating, “In his ongoing commitment to putting family and sobriety first, DMX has checked himself into a rehab facility. He apologizes for his cancelled shows and thanks his fans for their continued support.” Throughout his life, Simmons has faced a number of legal charges, including drug possession, animal cruelty, and tax evasion.
Simmons has reported that he has struggled with an addiction to Crack Cocaine. The drug is created by dissolving powdered Cocaine with water and ammonia or baking soda. Crack is typically smoked, giving the user an almost immediate high as it enters the bloodstream through the lungs. As with many other drugs that are purchased on the street, other drugs can be combined with Crack, sometimes without the user’s knowledge.
The emergence of Crack began in the 1980s and flooded the streets as an inexpensive alternative for Cocaine. The powerful drug greatly impacted urban and Black communities throughout the 80s and 90s, leading to mass incarceration and a pointed finger at those who were struggling with addiction. Selling drugs in urban areas was something that young people would often get roped into, as a way to make money in an area without a lot of opportunity. However, the younger someone starts abusing drugs or alcohol, the more likely it is that they will struggle with substance abuse later in life.
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Starting the use of illicit drugs at age 14 creates an extremely challenging path of maintaining sobriety. Without early intervention, overcoming addiction can feel impossible for those who have been influenced by drugs from a very young age. It is no surprise that Simmons has struggled with substance abuse due to his history, but he should be commemorated for seeking treatment. Experiencing relapse and returning to rehab is not a failure, but often part of the recovery process for those who have faced addiction.
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As of April 6, 2021, fans and family of DMX are anxiously waiting to receive an update on the rapper’s condition. DMX has dealt with health conditions throughout his life, including asthma and COVID-19. Simmons’ attorney told a local news station, “Earl Simmons, DMX, in my opinion, is one of the great poets of our time and what he had to say — if people bothered to listen and can overcome their hostility to rap — they could learn a great deal.”
Hayley Hudson is the Director of Content at Addiction Center. She earned a B.A. in Communications from the University of Central Florida and has 6 years of professional writing experience. A passion for writing led her to a career in journalism, and she worked as a news reporter for 3 years, focusing on stories in the healthcare and wellness industry. Knowledge in healthcare led to an interest in drug and alcohol abuse, and she realized how many people are touched by addiction.