Michael Grimm’s rebel spirit propels him through painkiller addiction

addiction-pillsMichael Grimm is struggling.

The singer from Waveland best known for winning “America’s Got Talent” in 2010 is struggling to overcome a prescription addiction, struggling with the depression it has brought on, struggling with the physical ailments and struggling to get his life back on track.

Grimm came into the limelight in 2010 when he auditioned for the television reality show. He made a name for himself with his soulful sound and his desire to use the $1 million prize to help the grandparents who’d raised him recover from Hurricane Katrina.

He won that competition and built his grandparents a home in Hancock County. He also proposed to and married his girlfriend, Lucie, after winning.

His life seemed to be a storybook tale come to life as he toured and performed in Las Vegas and around the country.

But what was happening behind the scenes came to light Nov. 4 when Grimm was taken by ambulance to a hospital. His wife said in a Facebook post it was “heart and liver ailments associated with a yet to be determined source of poisoning.”

Here’s what happened.

In 2010, Grimm had extensive dental work done,

just as he was beginning “America’s Got Talent.” The doctor prescribed Lortab for pain to help him function enough to perform.

“You can see on the show that my mouth was all swollen,” Grimm said. “I could have said no to the prescriptions. I could have looked up what was in them.

“They put heroin in Lortab and cut stuff with it,” he said. “It’s a bad cycle and no one is talking about it.”

Lortab contains hydrocodone, an opioid pain medication. Heroin is also an opioid, but is not in Lortab.

The Lortab did its job, but it took its toll. Grimm became addicted to the narcotic. He said he knew there was a problem during his tour with Stevie Nicks in 2011.

He got in touch with a doctor while on tour, who prescribed Suboxone to treat the prescription painkiller addiction.

“It was the only way to get me through the tour and when the tour was over I went to detox and tried kicking it.”

Grimm said when he returned to Las Vegas after the tour with Nicks, he went to a local doctor, who again prescribed Suboxone.

“It had a big grip on me, physically, mentally and emotionally,” he said. “But God is on my side. I’m pulling through this. I put myself in this mess.”

‘I didn’t feel right’

After two years on the Suboxone, Grimm told his doctor he wanted to quit it. Grimm said his doctor said he wanted the singer to keep taking it three more years.

But Grimm had had enough. He got in touch with a friend in Hancock County in the medical field who told him not to quit the Suboxone cold turkey. She helped him wean off the drug, which he has been off of for six weeks, he said.

But the damage had been done.

‘Ready for the new year’

He said he’s a poster boy for what the drug can do to you physically.

“I know people need pain management so I need to be careful with what I say about Lortabs, but that Suboxone and Methadone is really bad stuff. It does not help a person get off anything and now I’m seeing the side effects.”

Lortab can cause liver damage because of the acetaminophen in it. Suboxone, too, can affect the liver. The result? Grimm said he felt like he was dying.

He had chest pains, liver damage, depression and a host of other physical ailments that sent him to the emergency room Nov. 4.

“It’s been a physical hell,” Grimm said. “It damaged my liver. I did it to myself but on doctor’s orders.

“But I’m fighting. And I’m ready for the new year.”

Dr. Kyle Null, a research assistant professor at the Center for Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management at Ole Miss, said Lortab and Suboxone both can affect the liver. However, there is no research to show using both drugs, one after another, could affect someone in the way Grimm describes.

Because Suboxone has had enough reports of negative effects on the liver, there are cautions on the drug that it can cause an issue in the liver, Null said.

“The FDA felt it was important enough that it made it to the package insert,” Null said.

Grimm said he has had shakes, sweats, pins-and-needles sensations and every organ is causing him issues.

“My physical state affects my mental state and sometimes I break down,” he said, tears in his voice.

He is taking Paxil for depression — another side effect of the Suboxone — but only on a trial basis to see if it helps him.

Endurance and character

His wife, Lucie, has been there through everything, he said.

“My wife has been helping me. I don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s dealing with it as best she can.”

Grimm has also had to deal with the death of his drummer, his sister’s breast cancer diagnosis and another close friend’s cancer.

But there are glimmers of hope. His grandmother, who had been ill with colon cancer, is in remission. He continues to work, and has a show planned next year in China with another “America’s Got Talent” winner, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. He is working in Las Vegas and had made other personal appearances.

He also is working on his second album, which he said will be his “legacy album.”

“This album is dedicated to Hancock County. The Crescent City sound is a unique sound and I think this will be my legacy album,” he said.

“What’s keeping me going is my rebel ways. I’m from Mississippi and I was brought up a fighter. There’s a saying that from all the pain and suffering comes endurance and character. I’m in the pain and suffering now. The endurance and character are coming.” Article Link…


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