Everything Burt Reynolds Said About His Battle with Addiction: 'I Couldn't Beat It on My Own'

Burt Reynolds nearly died in the early 1990s after taking five to six prescription sleeping pills at a time and as many as 50 a day

Burt Reynolds had bravely opened up about his battle with addiction hoping his story would help others.

The mustachioed megastar, who died Thursday at age 82, struggled with substance abuse in the late 1980s and early 1990s when he was addicted to the controversial prescription sleeping pill, Halcion.

In 1992, Reynolds revealed to TV Guide he was addicted to Halcion for more than four years after he hurt his jaw while making the 1984 film City Heat with Clint Eastwood.

“I broke my jaw and shattered my temporomandibular joint. The pain was worse than a migraine. It is like having an army of people inside your head trying to get out through ears, eyes, your nose. It never stops,” he said.

He said that he took five to six pills at a time and as many as 50 a day to dull the pain.

'The Jonathan Ross Show', London, Britain - 05 Dec 2015
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While attempting to abruptly end his heavy use of Halcion, he “went cold turkey” but his body lapsed into a coma for “eight or nine hours” in a Los Angeles hospital. Reynolds recalled “the whole out-of-body experience” of death when he heard doctors tell his then-wife Loni Anderson “we’re losing him” and instructed her to say her final goodbyes.

“I was taking 50 pills a day. Fifty! Doctors told me if I had taken one more I would have died. It was that simple,” he said.

Halcion, which first appeared on the market in 1983, is a drug that affects receptors in the brain involving anxiety and alertness. It metabolizes quickly, within four to six hours, and, unlike other insomnia drugs, does not usually result in daytime drowsiness.

At the time, Halcion was the most widely used sleep medication and among the most controversial drugs in use. It was even banned in the United Kingdom in October 1991.

Though he experienced a near-fatal incident, Reynolds said he did not consider entering rehab at the time because “it was very important to me not to be portrayed as a drug addict.”

Loni Anderson;Burt Reynolds [& Wife #2]
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Reynolds spoke about how he nearly died and how the coma ended his addiction in his memoir, But Enough About Me. “After about 8 or 9 hours I regained consciousness. I never took another Halcion,” he wrote.

However, that was not the end of Reynolds’ battle with addiction.

He underwent back surgery years later in May 2009 which led to his prescription pill dependency, according to his manager.

The Screen Actors Guild 'Love Equals' Children's Writing Competition, Los Angeles, America - 14 Feb 2007
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In September of that same year, Reynolds checked himself into rehab to deal with addiction problems, telling PEOPLE at the time, “I felt that in spite of the fact that I am supposedly a big tough guy, I couldn’t beat prescription drugs on my own.”

He added, “I’ve worked hard to get off of them and really hope other people will realize they need to seek professional help, rather than ignoring the problem or trying to get off of the prescriptions on their own.”

Reynolds As Bandit
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Reynolds completed a month-long stint at the Hanley Center in West Palm Beach, Florida.

“When Burt decided on his own that he needed to seek some help from his addiction to prescription pain medicine, he arrived at Hanley Center in his own car accompanied by a family member and checked himself in,” said Suzanne Niedland, the chairman of the board of the Burt Reynolds Institute of Film & Theater.

“A lot of high-profile people don’t seek medical attention or choose not to go into rehab for fear of stories linked to tall tales, like what came out about Burt. He was very brave to go through with detox and treatment,” Niedland told PEOPLE.

Months after his back surgery, he underwent a quintuple bypass surgery in February 2010, which his manager later told PEOPLE in March 2018 was the reason behind his “perfect” health.

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