Join Date: Nov 2004
Its a very very large amount.
"A lot of your fans have been wondering: What have you been up to in the last couple of years since you stopped touring for Figure 8?"
It’s the question all Elliott Smith fans have been asking, and Under the Radar’s Senior Editor, Mark Redfern, just dropped the bomb. It’s a cold January night and Redfern, photographer, Wendy Lynch and myself are sitting at one of Spaceland’s bar-high tables. Across from us, wearing an orange shirt and brown pants with the misspelled words "mroe PRICKS than KICKS" scrawled in thick black ink on his left forearm, sits a distracted Elliott Smith. He’s set to play the Clean Needle Benefit concert here in a few hours, and he hasn’t practiced yet. But he doesn’t hesitate to answer the question.
"Nothing was very good," he says with a half smile. "Then things got better about six months ago. This is sort of close to me, but it’s not exactly connected to just me. It touches on drug use. I got caught up in that for almost two years. Then, I went to this place called the Neurotransmitter Restoration Center. It’s not like a normal rehab. What they do is an IV treatment where they put a catheter in your arm, and you’re on a drip bag, but the only thing that’s in the drip bag is amino acids and saline solution. I was coming off of a lot of psyche meds and other things. I was even on an antipsychotic, although I’m not psychotic. It was really difficult, but also something to get the word out about because it doesn’t cost as much as it does to keep someone in a 28-day rehab. It’s usually a 10-day process, but for me it took a lot longer. I think most people go there for just a week. Some people even go there for gambling problems."
Elliott Smith is an odd person to talk to. When asked a question, Smith doesn’t really answer it. He battles the question in his mind as lines of concentration contort his face. He speaks in very slow, almost deliberately childlike, responses. He often loses his train of thought, scratches his head of oily black hair, then goes onto whatever topic is on his mind at the moment. He has a habit of changing subjects in the middle of sentences when he doesn’t mean to. So getting him to answer a question in full proves to be a bit difficult.
"It just bombards your system with amino acids that kick all the **** out of your nerve receptors," he continues. "The different proteins in the amino acids eventually sort of rebuild the damaged neuro-receptors. But nobody seems to know about it. There’s been like 15,000 people treated with it, and its success rate is 80% versus 10% for the normal 28-day 12 step."
It’s important to note that the Neurotransmitter Restoration Center, located in Beverly Hills, is not an FDA approved treatment facility. A man named Dr. Hit, who was integral in developing the amino acid procedure, runs the center. The treatment has advantages for hard drug users because it virtually irradiates all symptoms of withdrawal. Even though the neurotransmitter restoration procedure is not covered by medical insurance, the cost, about $1000 per day, is still much cheaper than your average 28-day program. At the moment, Dr. Hit is in Mexico treating alcoholic priests.
Smith went on to say he had a strange reaction to the treatment, but his was something of a special case. "I had an unusual reaction to it because I was cut off from a whole bunch of things. It [the treatment] is very good, and I would recommend it. But for me, it just wiped me out like some debilitating weakness. A lot of my frustration came with being to weak too reach over for a glass of water."
Smith’s decision to reach out to Dr. Hit and the Neurotransmitter Restoration Center was something of a last resort. "I’d gone into detox a couple of times, but I couldn’t stay for the 28 days because I couldn’t honestly do the first step. That doesn’t mean the program is wrong, it just means I couldn’t say what you were supposed to say and mean it. I didn’t want to distract other people who wanted it to work for them, and here I was not doing the steps."
Although Smith admits his short-term memory hasn’t returned in full, he expects it will get better in time. After years of drug and alcohol abuse, it’s really nothing short of miraculous that Elliott Smith is finally clean, sober and, with only six months of recovery, back at work. He’ll be the first to tell you it wasn’t an easy road. In fact he admitted to being "a bad alcoholic" when he was living in New York. Now, he can barely drink one beer throughout the course of an evening. "I don’t care if it’s the 12-step program or the Neurotransmitter Restoration Center. There’s such a taboo of even talking about drug use, and then there is the added problem if you play music. Then there’s this sort of melodrama that surrounds it, which wouldn’t necessarily surround someone who doesn’t play music. So, its kind of an off limits subject. Actually, I thought I would just try to avoid it, but I’m not different from other people with drug problems. So, given the opportunity to speak, then I guess I will."
There is something to be said about Smith’s account of drug use. As he sits in a bar chair staring at the ground with his hands in his lap, there is a selfless nature to the man that extends beyond the occasional benefit show, to get the word out about alternative drug treatments. This benefit is not the only charity he’s involved with. Smith also started a foundation for abused children shortly after the release of his last album Figure 8. The foundation has been dormant for the last year, while Smith dealt with his drug problem, but now it’s his number one priority. His girlfriend Jennifer Chiba, of the band Happy Endings, later admits that he is uncomfortable with money, which is one of the reasons why he began the foundation. Smith would rather see his money do some good than spend it on himself.
Yet, tonight’s benefit concert touches on a subject close to him. It certainly concerns people he can empathize with. The Needle Exchange Program is a nonprofit organization that provides free and clean needles to IV drug users in order to stop the spread of HIV and other drug-related diseases. "I wish more people would accept it as a valid option of controlling the spread of disease," he says before taking a cigarette out of a pack of Camels on the table. "I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that seems more important than something designed to raise money to keep something going that keeps IV drug users from dying." Smith frowns and starts to light up his cigarette. He stops himself. "And I don’t think I can smoke in here. I guess that’s a different addiction."
Thats an interesting long bit on his drug usage from an interview.
Originally Posted by METALLICA89
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