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Drugs, Abuse & Health Woes: Inside Tom Petty's Secret Pain Before Tragic Death

Tom Petty – His Secret Life Of Heroin, Hitting, And Hardship
Source: Getty Images

Oct. 7 2017, Updated 12:30 p.m. ET

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Tom Petty had just wrapped up a 6-month, nationwide tour to celebrate his 40th year with the Heartbreakers, when his own heart broke, sending him into cardiac arrest, and eventually killing him. But Petty had a history of health problems. Click through the RadarOnline.com gallery to learn more.

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Tom Petty – His Secret Life Of Heroin, Hitting, And Hardship
Source: Getty Images

Tom Petty had just wrapped up a 6-month, nationwide tour to celebrate his 40th year with the Heartbreakers, when his own heart broke, sending him into cardiac arrest, and eventually killing him. But Petty had a history of health problems. Click through the RadarOnline.com gallery to learn more.

Tom Petty – His Secret Life Of Heroin, Hitting, And Hardship
Source: Getty Images

This last tour took a toll on the 66-year-old, and he was forced to postpone three shows in Northern California at the end of August.

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Tom Petty – His Secret Life Of Heroin, Hitting, And Hardship
Source: Getty Images

“As Tom Petty heals from laryngitis and bronchitis, additional changes are required for the remainder of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Bay Area & Sacramento performances,” according to a note from the concert promoters. “We share this news with regret, but Tom’s doctor has advised Tom to take additional days off before performing.”

Tom Petty – His Secret Life Of Heroin, Hitting, And Hardship
Source: BACKGRID

Petty was in a real bad place back in the early 90’s, when personal and work problems led him to an addiction to heroin.

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Tom Petty – His Secret Life Of Heroin, Hitting, And Hardship
Source: Getty Images

“He’s a rock and roller. He had had encounters with people who did heroin, and he hit a point in his life when he did not know what to do with the pain he was feeling,” according to Warren Zanes, author of the book, "Petty: The Biography." “That happens when the pain becomes too much and you live in a world, in a culture, where people have reached in the direction of heroin to stop the pain.”

Tom Petty – His Secret Life Of Heroin, Hitting, And Hardship
Source: Getty Images

The "Wildflowers" singer said he hadn’t publicly admitted to the drug use because he didn’t want to glamorize the issue, calling his story a “cautionary tale” about getting involved in drugs.

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Tom Petty – His Secret Life Of Heroin, Hitting, And Hardship
Source: Getty Images

“Using heroin went against my grain,” he said in the book. “I didn't want to be enslaved to anything. So, I was always trying to figure out how to do less, and then that wouldn't work. Tried to go cold turkey, and that wouldn't work. It's an ugly f***ing thing. Really ugly.”

Tom Petty – His Secret Life Of Heroin, Hitting, And Hardship
Source: Getty Images

Another ugly chapter in his life came during childhood, when he admitted to being physically abused by his father.

Tom Petty – His Secret Life Of Heroin, Hitting, And Hardship
Source: Getty Images

“When my father got home later, he came in, took a belt and beat the living s**t out of me,” Petty shared. “He beat me so bad that I was covered in raised welts, from my head to my toes. I mean, you can't imagine someone hitting a child like that. 5 years old. I remember it so well.”

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