Avicii Opens Up About Painkiller Addiction In New Footage Of The Late DJ

DJ Avicii poses with TJX Rewards Platinum MasterCard Card holders
Christopher Polk / Getty Images for MasterCard

New footage of Avicii shows the late Swedish DJ opening up about his struggle with painkiller addiction after being diagnosed with pancreatitis, all while undertaking a grueling tour schedule.

The EDM star, whose real name was Tim Bergling, took his own life at the young age of 28 while in Muscat, Oman, on April 20 last year. He had retired from touring just two years prior after battling anxiety, alcohol abuse, and a subsequent acute pancreatitis diagnosis that saw him have his gallbladder and appendix removed in 2014. He then became addicted to opioids, revealing that he was taking up to “20 pills a day” at one point.

As reported by The Daily Mail, details of the punishing tour schedule that Avicii followed for years have been revealed in a new BBC Three documentary, Avicii: True Stories, which is set to air on the first anniversary of his untimely death. He reportedly struggled with crippling anxiety, which made him turn to alcohol to cope with the distress. But he eventually ended up in hospital while he was on tour in Australia in 2014, where he was diagnosed with pancreatitis reportedly caused by alcohol abuse.

The artist later had his gallbladder removed and was prescribed several medications, including Percocet, which is an addictive opioid. In the new footage, he was filmed requesting to be discharged from the hospital so he could continue to tour, but doctors advised against it as he would be in too much pain. However, he decided against their recommendations and hit the road again, performing a whopping 813 shows in just seven years.

“I was in so much pain but all I was given was medicine and told ‘take this and you’ll feel better.’ It was like heroin but it also wasn’t helping the pain but I just assumed the doctors knew what they were doing. I was taking 20 pills a day but they kept telling me it wasn’t addictive,” he said.

Avicii added that he was “still anxious” but started to tour again regardless. He revealed that, early in his career, he was afraid of drinking before shows because he feared he would mess up, but that after seeing other DJs consume alcohol for years while putting on big tours, he started following in their footsteps, too.

At one point, he decided to cancel all his shows so that he could focus on finishing his second album. He rented a villa in Ibiza where he could peacefully work while undergoing therapy for his anxiety. However, when he got back on the road, his friends described him as a “ticking time bomb.”

Avicii: True Stories tells the life story of the DJ with previously unseen behind-the-scenes footage from his family and friends. It portrays his journey from releasing tracks online from his own bedroom in Stockholm to becoming one of the biggest music stars of his generation.