As a young man embracing both a punishing work schedule and the stresses of newfound celebrity, Elvis was under a tremendous amount of pressure. Young Elvis became dependent on several different types of prescription drugs, specifically amphetamines to keep him awake and barbiturates to help him sleep or relax. Early on, these were heavily pushed by his manager, the infamous "Colonel" Tom Parker, who many believe swindled the naive young Elvis while running him ragged.
By 1976, Elvis wasn't just getting his uppers and downers from his manager. He had a private doctor who would prescribe him any pill he asked for, according to a People Magazine story published shortly after his death. Dr. George Nichopoulos, aka "Dr. Nick," traveled with Elvis, and carried three suitcases of pills to make sure he could fulfill any of Elvis' needs.
It was reported that, over the last 20 months of Elvis' life, Dr. Nick prescribed him over 12,000 pills. The doctor claimed they were for Presley's entourage as well. His excuse for throwing all these high-octane drugs around? If he didn't prescribe the pills to Elvis, someone else would, and at least this way he wouldn't get them off the street.