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Was Rush Limbaugh a drug trafficker? Truth behind prescription drug addiction scandal after his death

The radical radio host stated he was addicted to pain medication in 2003 and sought treatment. In 2006, he turned himself to the authorities, and the records were erased later on
UPDATED FEB 18, 2021
Rush Limbaugh was a radio personality, conservative political commentator, author, and TV show host (Getty Images)
Rush Limbaugh was a radio personality, conservative political commentator, author, and TV show host (Getty Images)

Rightwing broadcaster Rush Limbaugh was known for creating a style of political ‘shock jock’ radio that set the tone for the Internet age of politics. He played a huge part in the 'Republican Revolution' of 1994, which recaptured the House of Representatives from Bill Clinton’s Democrats. He died at the age of 70 after suffering from cancer.

He also expressed controversial viewpoints on race, LGBT matters, feminism, sexual consent and climate change. He supported US military interventions in the Middle East.

After an October 3, 2003 report by the National Enquirer on Limbaugh being investigated for illegally obtaining the prescription drugs, oxycodone and hydrocodone, the radio host admitted on his radio show a week later that he was addicted to prescription painkillers as a result of taking them for several years due to botched back surgery, and stated that he would enter inpatient treatment for 30 days, immediately after the broadcast. Three years later, a warrant was issued for his arrest for doctor shopping when prosecutors discovered 2,000 painkillers, prescribed by four doctors in six months, at a pharmacy near his Palm Beach mansion.


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Radio personality Rush Limbaugh during the State of the Union address in the chamber of the US House of Representatives on February 04, 2020, in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

'I am no role model'

The king of rightwing radio's plight had illustrated a quiet epidemic spreading across America, particularly in rural areas, where OxyContin dependence is so prevalent the powerful painkiller is known as 'hillbilly heroin'. "Over the years athletes and celebrities have emerged from treatment centres to great fanfare and praise for conquering great demons. They are said to be great role models and examples for others," the radio host had said in a 2003 interview with The Guardian.

"Well, I am no role model. I refuse to let anyone think I am doing something great here, when there are people you never hear about, who face long odds and never resort to such escapes. They are the role models. I am no victim... I take full responsibility for my problem."

Although many people on Twitter spewed hate and pilloried against the self-proclaimed 'doctor of democracy', many more were sensitive and prized his importance as the dominant force of talk radio and an architect of the modern right-wing. Donald Trump Jr tweeted a video saying, "My thoughts on the loss of an American Legend, Rush Limbaugh today. Check it out. #rush #RushLimbaugh."

In the 3.10 minute video, he calls him a true conservative icon and an incredible icon and someone who pushed back against 'cancel culture'. "You can disagree with people and still treat each other like fellow human beings. Yes, it's possible. #EltonJohnRushLimbaugh," said a Twitter user, referring to the right-wing icon and trailblazing gay musician's unlikely friendship. "Life is about building bridges, not walls," John had said in the People interview.

Some condemned the celebration of a person's death tweeting, "I don’t care how much I can’t stand someone I’d never celebrate their death. All you people like this pussy @ChrisWarcraft celebrating #RushLimbaugh death are absolute scum of the earth & you will get this life or the next. Book it!," Another tweet called him 'an indispensable voice, a bullhorn for middle America' who inspired millions. "R.I.P. to the greatest of all time, Rush Limbaugh," said the tweet.





The rightist vs. liberals fight was on as usual. "Liberals: Al Baghdadi (terrorist) “austere religious scholar.” Also liberals on the day of his death: #RushLimbaugh, “bigoted commentator” “cancer took the cancer from society” A guy who fought his whole life for freedom and equality... gets this crap from the “party of unity”," said a tweet. "Rush Limbaugh's legacy of stoking hate, bigotry, insults & lies will sadly live on. Remembering today the bile he spewed at veterans. Like when he called veterans wounded in Iraq "phony soldiers" for speaking up about the lies that started the war," said another. "Rush Limbaugh disparaged every drug addict not named Rush Limbaugh," a tweet said. "Never forget that under Florida’s insane drug laws, #RushLimbaugh was a “drug trafficker.” He was fortunate to be able to afford a good attorney who helped him avoid jail. Others in the same situation got 25-year mandatory minimums. Many of them are still in prison today. #FlaPol," a Twitter user noted.