Celine Dion admits taking life-threatening levels of valium before her stiff-person syndrome diagnosis

12 June 2024, 13:05 | Updated: 12 June 2024, 13:23

Celine Dion at an ice hockey game at the TD Garden on March 21, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts
Celine Dion at an ice hockey game at the TD Garden on March 21, 2024 in Boston, Massachusetts. Picture: Getty

By Asher McShane

Megastar singer Celine Dion has revealed she had to take life-threatening doses of medication to help ease her muscle spasms before her diagnosis of stiff-person syndrome.

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She has revealed she has been taking diazepam, also known as Valium, to help relax her.

Her dependency on the drug increased in the years prior to her being diagnosed with stiff person syndrome.

She said she had been taking the drugs for years so that she could perform on stage.

In an interview with NBC in the US, she said that she was forced to raise her dose of the drug after its effects became diminished over time.

Celine Dion in concert in July 1999.
Celine Dion in concert in July 1999. Picture: Alamy

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She said symptoms would return after 20 minutes so she upped her dose.

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."

During the Covid pandemic, and with the help of doctors, she managed to come off the drug, she said.

"I stopped everything because it stopped working," she said.

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.”

Stiff person syndrome is a rare neurological disorder that causes progressive muscular stiffness and spasms.

It can be eased with muscle sedatives and relaxants alongside physical and occupational therapy.