Rehnquist's FBI File Shows Drug Withdrawal

The FBI has released its files on the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Among the details:

The documents also reveal that while Rehnquist was hospitalized for back pain in 1981, he experienced withdrawal symptoms related to his use of Placidyl, a powerful prescription pain medicine. Rehnquist had taken the medication for ten years, the documents show, but doctors refused to give it to him while he was hospitalized. According to the FBI documents, Rehnquist became agitated and experienced hallucinations during his withdrawal from Placidyl. He attempted to leave the hospital in his pajamas and told doctors that he believed the CIA was plotting against him.

I wrote a long post about Rehnquist's use of Placidyl and the implications in 2005.

The standard dose for adults is 500 milligrams, taken at bedtime. Rehnquist initially took 200 milligrams daily but by 1981 was taking 1,500 milligrams a day.

Slate had more on Rehnquist's drug habit here.

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    Well (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by Claw on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 02:36:33 PM EST
    As much as I dislike Rehnquist and his horrendous judicial philosophy, I've never seen an opinion or heard an anecdote that indicated he wasn't functioning normally in his working life.  He was a callous conservative before placidyl and he remained one after.  
    As for paperhead's comment
    1. The "he's dead, don't bring it up" argument doesn't really fly for supreme court justices.  Nor should it.  They create important legal precedent.  If one was addled by painkillers, it's certainly something that should be discussed.
    2. You point out that JFK was addicted to painkillers and in the same sentence claim that you would never talk about it.  Part 1 seems to conflict with part 2.
    3. "Now that dems are in control," we don't know what to do with ourselves...except bring up dead people.  Really?  Is this an epidemic I'm unaware of?
    4. I'm sure if a deceased Breyer were revealed to have been a 10 year coke fiend, you'd have nothing to say about it.

    No disrespect... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by kdog on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 02:43:25 PM EST
    Lots of fine people get addicted to drugs, I see no shame or disrespect in it.  Why do you?  It's an illness.

    When we find out the chief justice was addicted to a powerful drug while serving, it is certainly worth discussing if his altered state affected his work, as his work affected us all.  I would hope anybody in such a position of power would have the decency and humility to admit they have a problem and take leave till its under control.  

    If the addiction didn't affect his work, more power to him.  I support all citizens having the right to medicate themselves as they see fit.  

    It's cool.... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 01:22:22 PM EST
    Placidyl is "good dope" according to our govt.  

    A dope-fiend at the head of the Supreme Court for ten years...that may explain a few things.  

    I pop 2 Vicodins and I'm spaced out, I can't imagine how he functioned.  Or then again, maybe he didn't.

    This is quite confusing - if you google... (none / 0) (#2)
    by Bill Arnett on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 01:43:47 PM EST
    ... Placidyl you will find that it is a MILD sedative/hypnotic drug that could indeed cause confusion and mild hallucinations, but it is hardly a "powerful pain killer."

    As kdog mentions, vicodin is powerful and powerfully addictive.

    The only pain medicine that helps me is morphine sulfate, which, if genuinely used to treat chronic pain, is not addictive. Every winter I take double or more doses (by prescription of my VA doctors, of course) because the temp changes just kill me. I switch back to the lower dosage in spring with no problems at all, and certainly not withdrawal.

    This is supposed to be common (non-addiction) when taking pain meds for chronic, severe pain.

    So again, it would appear that someone either has their drugs mixed up or what purpose Placidyl actually serves.

    CIA? (none / 0) (#3)
    by peacrevol on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 01:55:30 PM EST
    Who says the CIA plotting against him was a hallucination? After all, they're plotting against me...Where's my morphine?

    It's cool... (none / 0) (#8)
    by Fredo on Thu Jan 04, 2007 at 06:59:14 PM EST
    I hope it can be established that many of the decisions in which he was in a 5-4 majority were affected by his drug addiction.  That would cause increased impotent frustration and rage among those whom I most like to see suffering from such rage.  Perhaps the Q was hanging out too much with Kitty Dukakis.  Or maybe David Crosby.  The moving finger, having writ, moves on; nor all your piety, nor wit, can call it back to cancel half a line.  Unless, of course, you can succeed with a motion for reconsideration en banc.  Good luck.

    I propose a bill. (none / 0) (#9)
    by roxtar on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 07:49:35 AM EST
    Call it the "Rehnquist Act."  I would call for the imediate release and treatment of every person incarcerated in an American jail or prison as a result of drug addiction.  I'm not saying we have to give them elegant robes with H.M.S. Pinafore trim, just some treatment for the same disease which afflicted the Act's namesake.

    "Give him the respect he deserves." (none / 0) (#10)
    by scarshapedstar on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 03:50:12 PM EST
    Let me check my respect scale here... stole an election times destroyed a nation in the process... carry the two...

    ...we've already given him far too much respect. However, TL's language policies mean I can't set things right, unfortunately.

    Rehnquist (none / 0) (#11)
    by sab on Fri Jan 05, 2007 at 08:36:30 PM EST
    When I was in Law School in the late 1970's ( I graduated in 1980) my law school was the proud recipient of a missive from Rehnquist. I can't remember if it was three pages long with two paragraphs, or two pages long with three paragraphs. The school's administration proudly posted it on a bulletin board under glass, and we used to admire it for its structural and grammatical wonders.We all commented that " He got into Stanford and we're here?" and "He must be high as a kite on his back pain meds." It's nice to see that we are vindicated in our scepticism. I don't mean to detract from his career, but we were underwhelmed by the letter.