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VAN DAMME SWEARS OFF COCAINE

Jean-Claude Van Damme remembers the day he almost died.

It came just over a year ago while Van Damme was out of his mind on cocaine, pacing back and forth in a Hong Kong hotel suite like a caged animal.

"I was in the room, I wrote on the back of a script my problems, my complexes, my fears. I wrote with that coke, like, 80 pages," Van Damme says in this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly. "I wrote, and I wrote, and I almost passed out. Then I was in the corner of the room. I was dying. I saw my body on the floor. I felt cold, I felt hot, I felt scared. I didn't feel like a man or a woman.

"And then I just came back into that envelope, that body, with that soul, and I said, 'I'm not ready. I know what's death after life.' "

Van Damme, 37, who has since been diagnosed with manic depression, says he started doing cocaine in 1993 while making "Sudden Death." He entered a drug rehabilitation center in 1996 but dropped out of the monthlong program after a week.

After the Hong Kong hotel incident, the Belgian star of the upcoming film "Knockoff" quit cocaine and now receives medication for manic depression.

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