Clearly Canadian.

The pills took hold some time in the evening, 12 hours after he had swallowed the first. They were Suboxones—powerful semisynthetic opiates prescribed to help combat a dangerous OxyContin addiction, and indeed that is what they would eventually do. But at that moment, after 12 hours, 32 milligrams, and a three-year addiction that had left his body resistant to change, Shane Bunting was in the most excruciating pain of his life.

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"I started flailing like a dolphin," said Bunting, known better as Mad Child from Vancouver, Canada–based hiphop group Swollen Members. "It was so crazy. I couldn't control my limbs. It was so painful and so frustrating that I was literally ready to jump off the balcony of my girlfriend's apartment. I wanted it to stop really, really badly."

The episode, which took place during the spring in Vancouver, was one of several low points of a crippling addiction that began in 2006 with the odd Percocet and bottomed out with the rapper taking upward of 20 OxyContins a day.

Fellow Swollen Member Prevail said he was oblivious to the addiction for the first year.

"When we did find out about it, it took me and [Rob the Viking] by a bit of a surprise," he says. "I think about groups like AC/DC and Rolling Stones and Red Hot Chili Peppers. Some of those guys have lost members of their groups to similar addictions. Those groups stick together and find the strength within their circle to lift each other up when times are tough, and we're thankful to have Mad Child back in full form."

Over three years, Mad Child says he spent C$500,000 on pills and lost around C$2 million on business investments due to his addiction. He says it all began shortly after the lukewarm reception for their album Black Magic and worsened after Nettwerk Management dropped the group because of his affiliation with the Hells Angels. (Several Angels had appeared in Swollen Members' music videos, and photos of Mad Child partying with the Angels ran in local newspapers.)

"I was a little bummed out with that because I felt... like we're supposed to be living in a free country," he says. "I should be able to hang out with who I want to. It's not like I was bringing anybody to the office or to any functions of theirs."

He maintains there was never a business relationship with the Hells Angels.

"I think one of the biggest misconceptions of Swollen Members, for one time period, was that we were funded by friends of mine in the motorcycle club, which was totally false," he says. "I grinded hard to make the money to make Swollen Members and Battle Axe Records happen, and I did it myself."

(Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwerk Music Group, confirmed Nettwerk cut ties because of the Hells Angels affiliation but declined to comment further.)

Now, four months clean, Mad Child is on the road with the rest of the Members, on a North American tour to promote their new album, Armed to the Teeth. It is their first tour together since 2006.

With them is Tre Nyce, the newest Battle Axe warrior, a 20-year-old Vancouverite whom Mad Child and Prevail credit for reinvigorating the group and giving the new album a more "street-oriented" sound as opposed to the "abstract expressionism" of earlier records.

"He definitely brought youth back into the group, and freshness, and helped to make Swollen Members continue to make current music," says Mad Child. "He's got a great work ethic. He can make three, four songs in a day, no problem. Thanks to him, we definitely have a better work ethic again. That young hunger is back with the whole crew."

"The kid is so talented," adds Prevail. "It's unbelievable, actually, his skill for songwriting and ear for music."

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While Mad Child says battling his addiction is no longer a daily struggle, he concedes it's something he still has to work at.

"When you come back from doing three years of damage to your life emotionally and financially and physically, it's going to take more than three months to resolve all the problems you've created for yourself," he says. "I've really got to grind to get back on my feet, but I find when I keep myself busy and keep working toward goals, that really helps." recommended

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