Celine Dion took life-threatening doses of Valium to ease muscle spasms | Ents & Arts News

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Canadian singer Celine Dion said she took life-threatening doses of medication to help ease muscle spasms so she could perform on stage.

The 56-year-old revealed how she took diazepam, a drug commonly known as Valium, to help relax her “whole body” – but was not aware of the consequences.

Her dependency on the doses came in the years leading up to her diagnosis of stiff person syndrome.

The incurable condition is a rare neurological disorder causing progressive muscular stiffness and spasms – and can be eased with muscle sedatives and relaxants alongside physical and occupational therapy.

The music superstar, who has sold more than 250 million albums and whose hits include My Heart Will Go On, Think Twice and It’s All Coming Back To Me Now, revealed her diagnosis in December 2022 and was later forced to cancel her Courage World Tour.

Despite her health struggles, the singer also revealed she was determined to return to performing, admitting “I miss it”.

In her first broadcast interview since her diagnosis, Dion said her body became accustomed to the medication and she would feel her symptoms again after 20 minutes – and so begin to raise her dosage.

She told NBC’s Today host Hoda Kotb: “I did not know, honestly, that it could kill me.

“I would take, for example before a performance, 20 milligrams of Valium, and then just walking from my dressing room to backstage, it was gone already.

“You get used to it, it doesn’t work.”

The singer revealed she was taking up to 90 milligrams a day, an amount that can “kill you” – but with the help of doctors, Dion weaned herself off the medications, “especially the bad ones”, during the COVID pandemic.

“I stopped everything because it stopped working,” she said.

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Image:
The singer, known for her power ballads, performing in Geneva in 2008. Pic: Reuters

‘I’m going to perform again – even if I have to crawl’

Despite her diagnosis, Dion said she plans to perform again.

She added: “I’m going to go back onstage, even if I have to crawl. Even if I have to talk with my hands. I will. I will.

“I am Celine Dion, because today my voice will be heard for the first time, not just because I have to, or because I need to. It’s because I want to. And I miss it.”

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Dion said she should have taken the time to “figure it out” instead of completing her performances – but it coincided with the period in which her late husband, Rene Angelil “was fighting for his own life”.

He died in January 2016 from throat cancer.

“I had to hide. I had to try to be a hero,” Dion said.

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