Eric McCandless/Getty Images
Lindsay Kimble
November 27, 2017 AT 06:07 PM EST

Timbaland is opening up about a scary addiction he says almost took his life.

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the producer revealed that he “was on drugs” until three years ago.

“I was on [opioid pain medication] OxyContin,” said the 45-year-old.

Timbaland said that he first began taking pain medication in his 30s after dealing with nerve issues from a years-earlier gunshot wound. He eventually began to abuse the drug, falling into what Rolling Stone called a “cycle of depression and addiction” as his career struggled and his marriage ended.

“Music is a gift and curse,” said Timbaland. “Once you’re not popping, it plays with your mind. The pills helped block out the noise — I’d just sleep all day. I remember JAY-Z told me one time, ‘Don’t do no more interviews’ — because I was saying crazy s—.”

Things got so bad, his girlfriend Michelle told the outlet, she wouldn’t sleep for fear he’d stop breathing in the night. Her nightmare came true three years ago, Timbaland said, when he suffered what he thinks was a near-fatal overdose while he was asleep.

“All I can tell you is that there was a light,” the rapper said. “I woke up trying to catch my breath, like I was underwater. But through that whole thing I saw life — I saw where I would be if I don’t change, and where I could be if I did.”

He said he weaned himself off the pills, and eventually stopped taking them completely, which lead to withdrawal. “But I thought about Michael Jackson,” he said. “I didn’t want to be old and taking these pills.”

Though Timbaland said he still sometimes smokes marijuana and drinks alcohol, he’s overall healthier and has dropped 40 pounds.

The star also wants to get a message out to young artists in the hip-hop community, who may suffer depression and turn to medication.

“These kids come from a place where they don’t have money, don’t have a real home,” said Timbaland. “It affects them, and you hear it in the music.”

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