Can Limbaugh Save Himself And Others?
By Reed Irvine
October 16, 2003

The National Enquirer, which got recognition from the mainstream media with its exposé of Jesse Jackson’s use of funds from a nonprofit organization he controls to pay off a mistress whose child he had fathered, has done it again. This time, the target of its investigative report was Rush Limbaugh, and the story was about his addiction to painkilling prescription drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin. The story was partially based on a full-scale criminal investigation of those who have for years supplied large quantities of such drugs to Limbaugh and others.

Limbaugh has said on his radio show that part of the National Enquirer story was right. He admitted that he had become addicted to painkiller drugs and announced that he would enter a drug rehabilitation program for a month. Some of his fans were angry at the tabloid, but they, Limbaugh and the nation owe the Enquirer a debt of gratitude. By exposing his addiction and lifting the curtain that has concealed the illegal traffic in these dangerous drugs, the tabloid may have saved Limbaugh’s life and the lives of many others.

This point was made by John LeBoutillier in NewsMax.com. LeBoutillier, a former congressman from New York, cited the case of his older brother who was addicted to Valium for 14 years. He was taking over 100 milligrams a day when, zonked out on Valium, he miscalculated while jogging and was hit by a car. He survived, but he has been a quadriplegic for 15 years.

LeBoutillier hopes that Limbaugh will use his radio show to teach others what he has learned from this experience. Liberals and lefties who hate and fear Limbaugh may be outraged if he escapes prosecution, but, LeBoutillier says, this experience could lead to a new mission for Rush. He could use his program to warn his 20 million listeners not to follow in his footsteps. He could apply pressure on the police and others to crack down on those who make it easy for those addicted to painkilling drugs to get their fix. There are many flaws in the system that cry out for correction. Doctors who prescribe painkillers that they know to be addictive and do nothing to keep their patients from succumbing should be disciplined. They have a duty to warn patients of the addictive power of these drugs and keep an eye on them. Pharmacies that dispense these drugs illegally should be shut down.

While he is in a rehabilitation clinic for a month, Limbaugh has lined up substitutes to host his radio show. He could start on his new mission now by having G. Gordon Liddy host one of his shows. Liddy, on his own nationally syndicated talk show, recently told of his experience with painkiller drugs. He said when he was in a hospital with a painful injury, a nurse brought him a painkiller on a regular schedule. It dawned on him that he was becoming addicted to the drug. Liddy, who has demonstrated his tolerance of pain in many ways, had enough will power to defeat the addiction before it conquered him. He stopped taking the drug.

That is a lesson that Limbaugh should learn and use his bully pulpit to teach others. Having G. Gordon Liddy tell his story on Rush’s program would be a good introduction to the course. Some say that it may take Limbaugh months and maybe even years to overcome his addiction.

Le Boutillier goes further than that, saying, "Done correctly, a properly recovering addict is never ‘cured.’ He or she is always recovering. He/she may leave the rehab center, but that addict needs to keep treating the addiction. Narcotics Anonymous meetings and constant monitoring under the care of a ‘sponsor’ are all part of the recovery plan." Limbaugh may not be strong-willed enough to follow that routine, but if he keeps popping pills to feed his addiction his career may be finished, perhaps because the addiction degrades his ability to perform. It may have caused his hearing loss. Some think he may take a left turn and show greater tolerance of drug users, including those who are addicted to recreational drugs.

Most of Limbaugh’s fans are sticking with him. A World Net Daily poll found 41 percent said his honesty in admitting his problem increased respect for him. Twenty percent said he "was still the king," and 15 percent said his personal problems did not affect their opinion of him at all. But if he emerges from this ordeal as soft on drugs, those percentages could drop precipitously.

Reed Irvine is the Publisher of the AIM Report and can be reached at aimreed@yahoo.com.