Stevie Nicks, the former lead singer of Fleetwood Mac, is very public about how prescribed benzodiazepines, taken as directed after becoming sober from cocaine, were devastating to her health, life, and career. Nicks says the last time she used cocaine on stage was during a concert at Red Rocks in 1986. It was a turning point for her. Afterward, she went straight to the Betty Ford Clinic. But in an attempt to help herself, she encountered a problem far worse than her cocaine problem—she became physically dependent on a benzodiazepine prescription. Fresh out a rehab, she reluctantly saw a psychiatrist:
I went to see a doctor just to check in with somebody and let everybody know that I was OK. I guess when most people go off cocaine they have a very hard time. I wasn’t one of those people, but he didn’t know that. So he suggested that I go on this drug for my nerves, and I just said OK to get everybody to leave me alone. Well, what a big mistake. I really wonder where I would be now, what I would have done if those eight years were full of creativity and love, and good things instead of full of nothing.
That psychiatrist would be the one to put Stevie on the benzodiazepine called Klonopin.
Nicks has described Klonopin as a “horrible, dangerous drug,” and said that her eventual 45-day hospital detox and rehab from the drug felt like “somebody opened up a door and pushed me into hell.”
“The only thing I’d change [in my life] is walking into the office of that psychiatrist who prescribed me Klonopin. That ruined my life for eight years.”
“The only thing I’d change [in my life] is walking into the office of that psychiatrist who prescribed me Klonopin. That ruined my life for eight years,” she said. “God knows, maybe I would have met someone, maybe I would have had a baby.”
“I was really sick,” she says. Even though her years of cocaine abuse left a large hole in the septum of her nose, she claims that the Klonopin did far more damage:
It was not my drug of choice…I’m not a downer person. I was looking for things that made me want to clean the house and shop, write songs and stay up for four days. I was sad and I was sick. I didn’t really understand right up until the end that it was the Klonopin that was making me crazy. I really didn’t realize it was that drug because I was taking it from a doctor and it was prescribed. It just hit me really hard that that was the foundation for why I was completely falling apart.
Stevie says she took the Klonopin for eight years, learning way too late that Klonopin is a dangerous drug that can also carry adverse effects like depression and weight gain:
My woman’s vanity could not deal with that at all. After being a rock ‘n’ roll sex symbol for all that time, and then all of a sudden to be ‘little fat girl’ was just so unacceptable to me. I could see the disappointment in people’s faces when they’d see me walk in…
Writers do not thrive on drugs like Klonopin and Prozac. It takes your soul; it takes your creativity; it takes your love of running home at night and getting out a typewriter or getting out your paper and pencil and writing something that you love. It takes that away. You don’t care anymore. So Street Angel [the album] was all about just not caring. And that’s horrible to me. One of the few things that I’ve never not done in my life is not care. And I didn’t care for a long time…
Doctors are dying to put you on drugs: ‘Feeling a little nervous? Here, let’s mask everything so you don’t have a personality anymore.’…The overwhelming feeling of wellness and calm equals blah, nothing. My creativity went away. The fabulous Stevie everyone knew just disappeared. I became what I call the ‘whatever’ person. I didn’t care about anything anymore. I got very heavy. One day I looked in the mirror and said, ‘I don’t know you.’ And I went straight to the hospital for 47 days…
It took 47 days for Nicks to detox from the prescription drug, and longer to recover from the damage:
…and it was horrible. My hair turned gray. My skin molted. I couldn’t sleep, I was in so much pain. Legs aching, muscle cramps…The rock star in me wanted to get in a limousine and go to Cedar’s Sinai and say, ‘Give me some Demerol because I am in pain.’ And the other side of me said, ‘You will fight out this 47 days’…
That doctor – he’s the only person in my life I can honestly say I will never forgive. All those years I lost – I could have maybe met somebody or had a baby or done a few more Fleetwood Mac albums or Stevie Nicks albums.
Nicks told Rolling Stone:
So I’ll never forgive him. If I saw him on the street and I was driving – well, I don’t have a driver’s license and it’s good, because I would just run him down.