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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / 10 Football Players Who Have Overcome Addiction

10 Football Players Who Have Overcome Addiction

This merely scratches the surface
Publish Date: 11/03/2019
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 27: Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers on the sidelines against the Seattle Seahawks on November 27, 2006 at Qwest Field in Seattle Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Addiction, either in drug or alcohol, is said to have affected some football players, which in return, has somehow created a negative impact on the entire league as well.

The known problem on drugs has been associated with the excessive intake of prescribed painkillers to treat injuries.

Despite the strict federal laws on the use of drugs, including prescription drugs and painkillers, it was reported in 2017 that the National Football League teams have still managed to go against some of the guidelines.

Accordingly, the teams “disregarded” the Drug Enforcement Administration’s guidance on the storage, tracking, transportation, and distribution of “controlled substances.”

In 2016, a report revealed that ESPN and the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) co-funded a scientific study. They commissioned the researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, who found out that retired NFL players are more likely to abuse painkiller opioids four times compared to the average person

In the history of the NFL, several players have already hugged the headlines after getting involved in controversies relating to drug use. Ten of these football stars who were reported to have had an addiction and eventually overcome it is the following:

Ray Lucas

The former NFL quarterback shared his battle against addiction to prescription painkillers and how dark his life was before deciding to finally take a different path. In an interview in 2012, the former American football player said that the most difficult thing to do for him was to ask for help. He said that he was in denial and was ashamed of himself. However, he noted that no matter how bad the situation would be, they could still be on the right track.

Brett Favre

In May this year, the Hall of Fame quarterback talked about his drug addiction in the past and how he managed to get back on his feet.

Favre said that during his dark days, he would fall asleep at 9:30 PM if without the pills. Whenever he would take some pills his “tirelessness” immediately kicked in. At one point, he even took 14 Vicodin pills because he was only getting one to two hours of sleep most nights. According to him, he went to rehab three times during his career with Green Bay Packers.

Rey Maualuga

The former Cincinnati Bengals player shared that his alcoholism affected his life. He was even arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. However, no matter how addicted he was before, he was still able to keep his promise to finally make his body alcohol-free following a rehab. With that said, Maualuga said that he’s always going to live all his life being judged by people.

Erin Henderson

The Vikings football player who admitted to having an alcohol addiction noted that his two arrests were a blessing in disguise for his decision to be reformed. While he shared that he used marijuana as well, it was really alcohol that somehow ruined his life.

He was thankful to his fellow Minnesota Vikings players, though, for not leaving his side amid the controversies he got embroiled into. “I’ll be forever grateful to the Vikings for what they did for me and the different opportunities that they presented to me, but it was more so that I let my family down that bothered me more than anything,” he said.

Aldon Smith

The San Francisco 49ers linebacker was reportedly arrested in September 2013 for a DUI, the second in less than two years. Having realized that he needed to be sober, he entered an alcohol rehabilitation facility voluntarily. “I’ve been able to maintain (sobriety). It’s going good,” he said.

Erik Ainge

The New York Jets backup quarterback divulged that he started his addiction to drugs at the age of 12. He added that he began using marijuana, but eventually, he was into prescription meds, alcohol, cocaine and heroin. With the fact that he began drugs at such an early age, he realized that he should do something before he would lose his life.

Jeff Hatch

The former NFL lineman wanted to make a change in the organization. Back in 2017, Hatch said that as a former drug dependent, he would like NFL to “step up with a comprehensive substance abuse treatment program for ex-players.”

He shared that with the “excruciating pain,” players resort to prescription painkillers to relieve them. At present, Hatch makes his advocacy known by being the marketing director of Granite Recovery Centers.

Terry Tautolo

The former NFL linebacker revealed that his drug addiction caused him to become homeless. Back in 2012, the San Francisco 49ers hard hitter was found homeless after retiring from NFL and having had concussions. He would be seen at times fixing bikes by hand.

Two years after, he was finally on his road to recovery with the help of his ex-teammates and coach. They helped him live a decent life once again, away from the Los Angeles freeway tunnel.

Shane Olivea

The San Diego Chargers past player admitted to having used Vicodin excessively. “At my height on Vicodin, I would take 125 a day,” he said. “It got to the point I would take a pile of 15 Vicodin and would have to take them with chocolate milk. If I did it with water or Gatorade, I’d throw it up.”

After having been drug-free, Olivea’s desire these days is to save those who would fall into “similar pitfalls.”

Ryan O’Callaghan

While he shared that it was difficult to hide his real sexual orientation, he found football as the answer. With the excruciating pain he experienced, because of his injuries and hiding his real sexual orientation, he excessively took painkillers. After coming out, though, the former New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs player is now feeling better.

“It’s not always easy being honest, but I can tell you it’s much easier and more enjoyable being yourself and not living a lie,” the NFL player concluded about his drug addiction journey.

While these football players can certainly afford the privacy offered by luxury addiction treatment that privacy comes with a cost. However, there are thousands of treatment centers out there that are affordable although they offer standard services and accommodations.

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