JASON NEWSTED On His Painkiller Addiction: 'My Heart Almost Stopped A Couple Of Times'

Former METALLICA, VOIVOD and FLOTSAM AND JETSAM bassist and current NEWSTED frontman Jason Newsted was the featured guest on the January 14 edition of the nationally syndicated "Loveline" radio show with hosts Dr. Drew Pinsky and Mike Catherwood. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On why he waited so long to marry his girlfriend of 11 years, Nicole Leigh Smith (pictured below with Jason), in October 2012:

Jason: "It made sense for my life and my lifestyle. I'd been around the world four or five times by the time I was 35 or so, and so I had to calibrate all that stuff, or at least make an assessment of all that. And once I found somebody that would really deal with all of my accelerated, weird life and all that, then that was really somebody I held on to."

On whether being newly married has helped him with his music or if it has taken away from it:

Jason: "We've been together for a long time. She was there just after I left METALLICA. She was there through my shoulder surgeries, she was there through my painkiller addiction, she was there to support me in all kinds of different times when I was down. And she is the person that recognizes that, after the fifth day that I do not go and make my noise, on that sixth day when I start getting irate, she pushes me to the studio and says, 'Call your boys and plug in the amps.' So to find someone like that to help me and support me, I would say that, if anything, she encourages me to move forward with my music and my art."

On his painkiller addiction:

Jason: "I had taken [painkillers] for years with METALLICA as I was trying to get my neck into a place and I really didn't understand what they did or what they were about. Once I had my serious surgeries and I went right-left-right rotator cuff and laborum and bicep and all this kind of stuff. I was one-armed for a long time, and that's when I started painting, 'cause that's all I could really do; I couldn’t play serious. But within that time, because of the timing of my particular ones. I did the right arm, and in the meantime, while the left was trying to make up for both arms, I tore it. So by the time the right one was rehabbed, they went back to the left and they fixed that one. In the meantime, I tore the right one again trying to make up for the other one. That whole thing went back one swing — right, left, right. The time in between the rehab therapy, trying to get off the medicine, then getting hit with the heavy stuff right during the surgery and then [taking[ Vicodin to help it a few times through therapy, I never got a chance to get my body clean enough not to go right back to that once the heavy stuff hit again. And I got taken in — like, four years of just going back and forth with that stuff, and it was brutal. It's been now three years at least that I've been away from it; I did it by myself and with my life. But it got ugly for awhile. I got very close a couple of times; my heart almost stopped a couple of times. So I know about that, man. It's ugly. You've gotta be careful — very careful. It does sneak up on you before you know it. It could get the best of you no matter how strong or tough or what you've endured before."

Nicole is an accomplished artist who encouraged Jason in 2005 to find a new hobby after he forced to wear an arm sling, thanks to a surgery to fix his right shoulder after decades of wear-and-tear on stage.

Newsted quit METALLICA in February 2001 for several reasons, including his desire to play more of a creative role. According to MTV, he also felt the band had lost its focus and was spending too much time involved in litigation and political rhetoric. And finally, he needed time off to recover from neck and back injuries he sustained banging his head every night onstage.

Newsted last performed with METALLICA in December 2011 at all four intimate shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco as part of the band's week-long celebration of its 30th anniversary as a group for fan club members only.

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