Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks is currently plugging her latest album 24 Karat Gold, but the current single “Mabel Normand” is a throwback to her former days of battling a crippling cocaine addiction.
The song, which she first penned in 1985, was inspired by a documentary that Nicks watched about the silent performer from the 1920s. Both of them were cocaine addicts and learning about Normand’s eventual death from the drug scared her straight. Nicks hoped the song would do the same for others.
“I wanted it to be something that somebody having a problem with drugs can sit down and listen to 5,000 times,” she told Out magazine. “Try and let it be an epiphany for you, 18-year-old person that is doing a lot of coke and smoking heroin and taking ecstasy and is on a dead-end road to hell. I want them to hear the word ‘cocaine’ and think brain hemorrhage, beauty gone, lines, aging, fat.”
But it wasn’t just cocaine that was causing damage to Nicks. She was also snorting aspirin dissolved in water to help combat headaches, but a doctor informed her that the aspirin had created a hole in her nasal cavity that was so big it could have caused a brain hemorrhage.
She went through inpatient drug treatment at the Betty Ford Clinic and a psychiatrist there prescribed her with Klonopin to help prevent a relapse. But as the dosage was gradually increased over the years, Nicks was left in a constant daze and unable to write music. She realized that her prescribed drug usage had the potential to be just as deadly as her cocaine use.
“I thought, ‘You are going to OD on something really stupid like NyQuil or Benadryl, over-the-counter stuff, on top of the Klonopin,’” recalled Nicks. “I thought, ‘I’m definitely not going to go out that way. If I go out, I’m going out in a blaze of glory. I’m not going out OD’ing on aspirin.’” She went through a 47-day supervised detox program shortly after and has been clean ever since.
I want them to hear the word ‘cocaine’ and think brain hemorrhage, beauty gone, lines, aging, fat.-Stevie Nicks
Nicks has long been open about her regrets over becoming a cocaine addict. In a March 2013 interview for Oprah Winfrey’s “Master Class” series, she said she believed her long-term drug use had taken a toll on her looks. Her advice to cocaine users was to “save your money, because it’s gonna cost you $50,000 to go to rehab… You will have to go or you will die.”
But even in her mid-‘60s, Nicks can still perform as well as she ever has. She joined Fleetwood Mac for a tour in 2012 and said their sober shows were of far better quality than those in the band’s heyday.
“I’m up there doing a two hour and ten minute show right now and I don’t even have a drink before I go on stage,” she said. “Sometimes I laugh and I look out and I’m swirling around. And I’m thinking you know what? I’m totally sober and I’m having such a great time.”
Learn more about treatment options for drug and alcohol abuse.