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Treatment - fact or fiction , Former Heroin addict Keith Richards and blood transfusions

Discussion in 'Opiate addiction' started by beentheredonethatagain, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. beentheredonethatagain

    beentheredonethatagain Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    May 30, 2007
    Here is the story, this has been a subject of interest for many Rolling Stone fans and druggies

    [FONT=Trebuchet MS,Bookman Old Style,Arial]Let It Bleed[/FONT]
    [FONT=Trebuchet MS,Bookman Old Style,Arial]Claim: Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards beat a heroin addiction by having his blood replaced at a Swiss medical clinic.

    Status: False.

    Origins: As the cliché goes, look up 'debauchery' in the dictionary, and you'll find a picture of Keith Richards. Although many tales about the depravity of the Rolling Stones were deliberately concocted for publicity purposes (especially in the group's early days), the extent of Keith Richards' drug abuse over the last several decades would be hard to exaggerate: long periods of drug use and addiction, punctuated with occasional efforts at beating the drug habit.

    These efforts ranged from going cold turkey to submitting to conventional medical means of ending addiction to undergoing controversial "experimental" cures.
    Whatever the method, the results were generally the same: Richards would quit before the end of the program or lapse back into his familiar habits soon afterwards.

    Although drugs have long been considered an indispensable part of the "rock 'n' roll lifestyle," too much of a good thing can be detrimental, even to rock musicians.

    The Rolling Stones have been a top concert draw for thirty-five years and owe much of their popularity (not to mention their income) to their live shows.

    But the Rolling Stones are not the Rolling Stones without a functioning Keith Richards, and at times his overindulgences have put concert tours in jeopardy due to his inability to weather rigorous and demanding tour schedules.

    Such was the situation during the Stones' 1973 European tour, when Richards needed to kick a heroin addiction quickly and underwent a treatment in Switzerland that lead to rumors he had undergone the human equivalent of an automotive oil change and beat his drug habit by having all his blood replaced.

    As Stones intimate Spanish Tony Sanchez later described the process in his tell-all book about the band:
    In the midst of this chaos it was time for the Stones to finalize plans for their seven-week tour of Britain and Europe.

    Keith knew that he was in no condition to go on the road, but there was no time for a cure. Withdrawing would have meant being laid up for weeks — and that was out of the question.

    Marshall Chess, however, had a solution. "There's a doctor from Florida who can get you off dope in a few days by changing your blood," he told Keith. "He did it for me in Mexico a while back, and it worked perfectly."

    The Florida doctor would carry out the blood change for Keith in a villa called Le Pec Varp, in Villars-sur-Ollon, Switzerland. Keith would fly directly to Switzerland after the Stones' concert in Birmingham on September 19.
    He would then be cured in time to play with the Stones again in Berne, Switzerland, on September 26. Marshall was going to Switzerland with Keith to have his blood changed at the same time.
    Sanchez went on to describe exactly how much Richards paid the Florida doctor, where he stayed during the treatment process, and what his hotel room cost. Sanchez's accuracy leaves something to be desired, however — although Richards admitted the bare facts of Sanchez's book were true, of the details he said, "I couldn't plow through it all because my eyes were watering from laughter." And the truth in this case follows that pattern: the basic facts are true, but the details have been embellished just a bit.

    Richards biographer Victor Bockris described the actual treatment process:
    The treatment involved a hemodialysis process in which the patient's blood was passed through a pump, where it was separated from sterile dialysis fluid by a semipermeable membrane.
    This allowed any toxic substances that had built up in the bloodstream, which would normally have been secreted by the kidneys, to diffuse out of the blood into the dialysis fluid.
    (According to Bockris, this treatment took place between the Rolling Stones' 23 September 1973 concert in Innsbruck, Austria, and their show in Berne, Switzerland three days later.

    This coincides with his statement that "Richards was frightened by the process because it required being put to sleep for three days," but according to a Rolling Stones tour chronology, the group also performed in Berne on 25 September, which wouldn't have allowed for alleged "three days" of sleep the cure required.

    Another passage in Sanchez's book, probably inaccurate, quotes Richards as saying the process took only forty-eight hours, but also mentions that he "spent the rest of the week just resting and building up" his strength. Obviously Richards couldn't have taken off "the rest of the week" to recuperate and still have performed in a show that took place two days after the treatment began.)

    Bockris also claims that when Richards was having trouble obtaining a visa for the Rolling Stones' 1975 tour of the United States, Walter Annenberg, the U.S. ambassador to Britain, "helped arrange for Keith to get a visa so long as the U.S. embassy doctor in London could certify that there were no drugs in his bloodstream." So, once again Richards supposedly made the trip to Switzerland to have his blood purified in order to pass the requisite medical certification.

    Keith Richards himself later explained how the rumor about his "blood change" treatment began:
    Someone asked me how I cleaned up, so I told them I went to Switzerland and had my blood completely changed. I was just fooling around. I opened my jacket and said, 'How do you like my blood change?' That's all it was, a joke. I was fucking sick of answering that question. So I gave them a story.
    Of course, Richards doesn't exactly declare in the above statement that he really went to Switzerland; he merely claims that he told people he went to Switzerland.

    So, did Richards have his blood changed, did he have it filtered, or is the whole thing a bit of lurid fiction? The "blood change" claim is almost certainly untrue, because Richards himself says he made up the story, no real evidence supports it, and such a procedure is medically questionable in terms of both safety and effectiveness.

    He probably did undergo some type of treatment involving blood filtering, however.

    True or not, the story's ubiquity is no mystery. What's more extravagant and outrageous than a jaded rock star who has achieved international fame and has earned all money he could possibly need, yet chooses to spend his days in a drugged stupor?

    A rock star who kicks the habit not by sweating it out cold turkey or by spending several weeks in a substance abuse program to kick both the physical habit and his psychological dependency on drugs, but by jetting off to Europe to swap his "dirty" blood for some fresh, clean stuff and be on his (temporarily drug-free) way in a couple of days.

    Although Tony Sanchez may have made up or embellished many of his tales about his days with the Rolling Stones, he hit the nail on the head with an expression of outrage that neatly summarizes the essence of public's fascination with this legend:


  2. Synaps

    Synaps Silver Member

    Reputation Points:
    Jul 27, 2010
    You experience withdrawals because of depleted receptors in your brain. Purifying your blood won't regenerate your receptors.
  3. brettjv

    brettjv Titanium Member

    Reputation Points:
    Feb 10, 2012
    Agree with Synaps ... regardless of whether or not some treatment along these lines happened, there's no way it 'worked' as the problem isn't the blood, it's the receptors in the brain. If this did happen, it was probably more for the purpose of removing detectable drug metabolites from his system in order to secure him a visa into the USA.

    I think I read somewhere Keith says he hasn't touched the opiates since the early 80's, so assuming his account is truthful, the article saying 'over the last several decades' is wildly inaccurate. It should say 'during the 60's, 70's and some of the 80's'.
  4. aikidoka


    Reputation Points:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Yep, you'd need a brain transplant to be 'cured' of addiction.

    As far as I am aware there is no 'cure' and though once upon a time it was called a cure, especially in Bob Dylan songs, getting and staying clean is a never-ending process, regardless of how little effort has to be put in after the first 15 years of sobriety. As I found out to my great anguish, busting after 20 years is still busting and all the old habits and shit I thought had long gone by the wayside was all still there, sitting, waiting for the chink in the recovery armour. Fuckers....
  5. brettjv

    brettjv Titanium Member

    Reputation Points:
    Feb 10, 2012
    Speaking of Bob Dylan ... I was just spinning Highway 51 for the first time in a while the other day ... forgot how much I love Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (and pretty much every other song on it, actually). Also, I am entirely convinced that Like a Rolling Stone is actually (and fairly obviously) about the 'protagonists' descent into the hell of heroin addiction ... what say you Aiki?
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  6. aikidoka


    Reputation Points:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Absolutely brett; if I had a dollar for every song describing that particular subject I'd have at least 5 or 6 bucks!
  7. brettjv

    brettjv Titanium Member

    Reputation Points:
    Feb 10, 2012
    Just for fun (and can you tell, I'm kinda bored...) allow me the indulgence of listing my illustrious concert going career (although this is by no means all the shows I've seen).

    U2 - Conspiracy of Hope (Amnesty Int'l Tour with Sting, Peter Gabriel, SF, 1985), The Joshua Tree (LA, SF, SD, March/April 1987 indoor leg of tour), Achtung Baby (Oakland, early 1991, indoors), Pop (Oakland, 1994), ATYCLB (SJ, 2001, indoors)
    The Cure - Staring at the Sea (Berkeley, 1985), Kiss Me x3 (Oakland, 1987), Disintegration (Two nights in a row in Mtn. View, 1989), Wish (SJ, 1992)
    INXS - Listen Like Thieves Tour, Kick tour, X tour (Concord, SF, Sacramento)
    Pink Floyd - 1987, 1994 (Oakland)
    Roger Waters - 1987 (Radio KAOS), 2007 (Dark Side of the Moon, Oakland)
    Van Halen (2008, Oakland)
    Oasis (Morning Glory tour, Berkeley, 1995, Be Here Now, SF, 1997)
    Jane's Addiction (first Lollapalooza, 1994 I believe)
    Rush (Grace Under Pressure, Power Windows tours, Oakland, 1984, 1986 I think)
    The Alarm - Change (Santa Barbara, 1989 i think), Raw (SF, 1992 i think)
    Smashing Pumpkins - Siamese Dream Tour (The Warfield in SF, 1993)
    Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral Tour, (The Warfield, 1994 I think)
    Steve Earle - Jerusalem Tour (The Fillmore, SF, 2003)
    Grateful Dead/Bob Dylan (around 1987 I think it was ...)
    Prince - Lovesexy (Oakland, 1988), Symbol Album (SF, 1993-ish)
    Wallflowers - (Slims in SF, 1993, album before their hit album, Concord, 1998-ish)
    Matthew Sweet (Girlfriend, Altered Beast, and 100% Fun tours, all in small clubs in SF)
    Pete Yorn (2001, small club in SF on his first album tour)
    Counting Crows - August and Everything After Tour (SF, 1994), TDL tour (Concord, 1998-ish)
    Radiohead (The Bends, SF 1994, Amnesiac, Mtn View 2001, Hollywood Bowl 2001)
    Robert Plant on Now+Zen and Manic Nirvana tours (Mtn View both)
    Page/Plant both tours they did (Oakland/Concord, the second was absolutely amazing, btw)
    The Eagles (Hell Freezes Over, 1994, Mtn. View)
    Weezer (2001, Concord)
    Dave Matthews Band (Mtn. View, 2001)
    Matchbox 20 (The Fillmore, 1997)
    Lyle Lovett (Paramount Theatre, Oakland, 1993)
    Indigo Girls (Berkeley, 1994)
    The Rolling Stones (Steel Wheels, Voodoo Lounge tours)
    Guns n Roses (twice on Appetite tour, once on UYI)
    Aerosmith (at least 4 times, going back to the Reunion/Back in the Saddle tour in about 1985)
    Kiss (Love Gun tour, it was my first ever concert, SF 1976, opener Cheap Trick)
    Journey at Day on the Green (Oakland, 1980) ... also had Black Sabbath with Dio singing on Heaven and Hell tour.
    REO Speedwagon (DOTG, 1981)
    The Tubes (1982, Concord)
    Metallica (both times on Black Album tour @ DOTG in Oakland, then with GnR in San Diego, plus once in the parking lot at the Raiders Championship Game, 2003)
    Soundgarden (DOTG in Oakland, again in Berkeley, SuperUnknown/next album tours)
    Iron Maiden (Piece Of Mind tour, SF, 1983)
    Dio (Sacred Heart Tour, SF, 1984 I think)
    REM (Monster Tour, Mtn. View, 1995, 1st show with Bill Berry back from his aneurysm)
    Bruce Springsteen (Human Touch, Mtn. View, 1992)
    Sugar (Bob Mould from Husker Du, SF, 1992)
    Genesis (Mama Tour, 1984)
    Yes (twice on 90125 tour, once on Big Generator, once on the Reunion which was I wanna say about 1994).
    Phil Collins (Oakland, 1986 or so)
    James Taylor (Concord, 2000-ish)

    I'm finding here I could go on and on ... also seen AC/DC, Scorpions (a few times), Green Day, Hothouse Flowers, John Mellencamp, Social Distortion, Rancid, Adam Ant, Jawbreaker, Throwing Muses, Afghan Whigs, Wilco twice, Son Volt, Jay Farrar, Train ... you get the idea [​IMG]

    This list comprises maybe 2/3 of the major concerts I've been to, so, yeah, you could say I'm a pretty big music fan going pretty far back. And hey, I may sound old as hell but I'm REALLY only 45 ... I started concerts young. Some of the early ones I went to with my parents [​IMG]
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
  8. aikidoka


    Reputation Points:
    Dec 7, 2011
    I've been to a few as well but nothing like that many. That's the problem with being stuck in the arsehole of the world - bands don't consider it worthwhile to come here and if they do, it is usually to Auckland, which may as well be a different fucking country because it is so unlike where I live in the south. I hate going there and avoid it where necessary, though if the right band comes long I have been known to head up there, even though it makes the concerts really fucking expensive. Oh well, there's always youtube...

    I'm learning to play this at the moment...

    youtube lRt54xjIq7w&ob=av2e

    Rock on!