Published November 08, 2013
Howard Stern sidekick and standup comic Artie Lange has penned an incredibly honest and unflinching book detailing his harrowing descent into addiction. Entitled 'Crash and Burn,' Lange leaves nothing out. He writes of his suicide attempt, stays in mental institutions, relapses and playing Carnegie Hall while holding bags of heroin in his pocket. He spoke to FOX411about it all.
FOX411: This book is really, really intense!
Artie Lange: The only thing that allows me to get through re-reading it is that I'm doing ok now. I've been sober for about a year and a half. I've had two slips. I drank one night in Paris, one night about a year ago, and about 10 weeks ago I got a prescription for 10 Vicodin for back pain and I took all 10 in two days. I got high which I had to admit in an AA meeting which I was kind of proud that I did. And I didn't go on a run after that. I got back on the straight and narrow. To me it's a miracle.
FOX411: Do you feel it's a miracle that you're alive?
Lange: Yes in a lot of ways. When I reread the book it's very hard. My mother tried and she couldn't because she was crying. I wanted to make it as honest as possible so maybe it will be a deterrent. Obviously I'm writing the book so I can make a buck, I'm not going to lie to you, but I would like it to help people too.
FOX411: You write about when you stabbed yourself, and initially say it wasn't a suicide attempt, but a twisted desire to get some sleep. Only at the end of the book do you admit that it was a suicide attempt.
Lange: As I was writing the book I think I did actually convince myself. It was too embarrassing to say I did it again in my life. (Lange has attempted suicide before). I think I was like, "I'm going to convince myself it wasn't," but as I was writing the book I was seeing a therapist and the combination of writing the book and seeing the therapist, it sort of made me realize that I need to be honest with myself.
At the time I couldn't bear life as an addict anymore and the hell I was in. At the end of the book I decided to come clean. Writing the book was actually a therapy session and at the end that's what I discovered.
FOX411: Did you feel any pain?
Lange: Initially, but then it sort of went away because I was losing blood. I couldn't really feel anything except wheezy. They were just flesh wounds thank God. They scratched the surface which probably saved my life. Even in the state I was in I didn't have the commitment to go that far into me.
FOX411: And your mom found you.
Lange: I'll never ever ever get over the guilt. Thank God she's a strong woman and she's fine and I get to talk to her every day but it's guilt I'll never get over.
When my father was on his deathbed he told me to take care of my mom and my sister, and to me and him that meant money, and over the years I've bought my mom a house and everything else, but what I put her through emotionally. I think she would have traded all the money in the world for me to be healthy. I really put her through the ringer and she stuck by me the whole time.
FOX411: You open the book where you're in a porta-potty at the Playboy Mansion searching through your vomit for painkillers. I can't believe that wasn't your bottom!
Lange: I had a lot of bottoms. I hope I've seen the last of them. Even people publishing the book they were even saying, "Are you sure you want to write this?" I really want people to go, "Christ, this is not the route."
FOX411: It was a mutual decision for you not to return to the Stern show. Were you sad?
Lange: Oh my God yes of course. Listen I was there for eight and a half years. That's not the way I wanted to end that run. I didn't want it to end like that. I'm sad I didn't get to go back and give it better closure.
FOX411: And the money you blew through. A hundred grand in one weekend in Vegas!
Lange: That's embarrassing. My old man climbed roofs for a living. He had to work three years to make $100,000. If he knew that he would have slapped me in the face. It's just waste, wasted on bulls**t. I made every mistake you can make in the book.
FOX411: When you were at the Stern show you were using heroin and painkillers on the weekends. You must have been suffering withdrawal while on the air.
Lange: Sure there where times when I'd pass out. At the last second not come in. There were times I was just not in any shape to come into work. That was hell because everybody would be speculating what was going on. You've got millions of people trying to figure out what's wrong and you're home shivering through withdrawal. It was a nightmare.
FOX411: What finally made you stop?
Lange: Being in rehab for two solid months away from dope my head finally got clear. One day I woke up and the sun was shining. All the darkness that I couldn't get away from because I was always distorted with drugs, I now saw through it. I thought, "The world ain't so bad. I still have some talent that God gave me. I'm still able to get up on stage and write." I just had this incredible confidence.