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Tammy Bakker admits to drug addiction

By SHARON PERKINSON

FORT MILL, S.C. -- Tammy Bakker said in a tearful videotape for the PTL television network headed by her husband, evangelist Jim Bakker, that she is being treated for prescription drug addiction that made her see 'demons coming at me.'

'I saw hell. It was like Satan was trying to kill me,' she said in a message Friday from the Bakker home in Palm Springs, Calif.

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Bakker, appearing with her husband and two children, taped the film for broadcast Monday at the couple's Heritage USA religious retreat at Fort Mill just outside Charlotte, N.C.

Jim Bakker said the videotape was made to dispel rumors, begun after Tammy's lengthy absence from the PTL network's 'Jim and Tammy Show,' that his wife had died or the two had separated.

'We had to have some time for our family to put our lives back together from the brink of disaster,' he said.

Bakker said his wife has been undergoing several weeks of detoxification treatments at a California drug center since her January release from Eisenhower Memorial Hospital in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Tammy Bakker left the drug center last week and is being treated on an outpatient basis, he said.

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The Bakkers said doctors have advised Tammy not to return to television for a year.

Bakker said his family became aware of Tammy's drug addiction when she developed a life-threatening bout of pneumonia three months ago.

'We had to face some realities that Tammy had been taking so many medications for a long, long time, and this crisis could have killed her,' Bakker said. 'The doctors told me: 'Tammy Faye is a very sick woman, you're going to have to do something to get her help.''

In a speech marked by occasional tears, Tammy Bakker said her drug problem began 17 years ago while she was pregnant with daughter Tammy Sue and started taking allergy pills.

Acting as uppers, the pills 'kept her hyper, and then the doctors, because of this tension and nervousness, prescribed tranquilizers,' her husband said.

Tammy Bakker said she hyperventilated several times on the television show and sometimes when looking at her husband, she could not see his head. But she said she was unaware of her problem until her illness, when she was flown to the Bakker home in Palm Springs and checked into Eisenhower Memorial Hospital.

During the flight, the Bakkers' 12-year-old son Jamie Charles said his mother was hallucinating that she saw people and cats sitting on the wings of the plane.

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While in the hospital, Tammy Bakker said she could not sleep.

'I saw demons coming at me,' she said.

Jamie said he went into his mother's hospital room and told the devil: 'In the name of Jesus, devil get out.' The devil then left the room, he said.

The Bakkers said their entire family has been in California undergoing counseling and helping Tammy Bakker through her treatments. The experience has drawn the family closer together, Jim Bakker said.

'We have turned this mistake into a miracle,' Bakker said. 'We are the happiest we've ever been.'

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