I found this article on ESPN.com about Erik Ainge, former UT quarterback and 5th round draft pick by the NY Jets. This article gives an in-depth account of his struggles with drugs, painkillers, alcohol, and heroin to be specific. It is also mainly a piece that he wrote himself to bring awareness to athletes with substance abuse problems.
Here are some things I found interesting/appaling:
Throughout that process, I became hooked on pain killers. I got them from the team doctor. I went through the prescriptions pretty fast. After he had been giving them to me for quite a while, he said he couldn't give them to me anymore.
I was hooked on them and I was playing football, and there was no way I was going to cancel my senior year by going to rehab. I started getting them from people, buying them, getting them off the street. I wasn't the only player on the team that was doing it, so we knew people. It wasn't, like, super sketchy or anything. We knew people who had them, and we were Tennessee football players, so they pretty much just gave them to us.
I hope the above isn't a widespread issue with NCAA athletes across the nation.
I was under the influence pretty much every day, every practice. I mean, I was a drug addict, so it's not like I stopped using drugs for any reason. Did the Jets know? I don't know. That's all they knew me as. I was a drug addict from the first day I stepped foot on the Hofstra campus [site of the team's training base until 2009].
Now the present:
A normal day for me consists of therapy with my psychiatrist and/or NA or AA meetings. Five nights a week, I go to meetings. I had four recovery groups, but I can't afford them anymore because of the NFL lockout.
The lockout has caused a lot of problems for me. My substance-abuse insurance through the NFL and CIGNA got canceled as a result of the lockout. If I were a normal player -- let's say I had a broken leg and I was in the hospital -- they'd have forms they would've sent me to continue receiving insurance through the NFL. Since I'm a drug addict in the drug program, my insurance just got canceled, and I didn't like that.
Interesting to see how the lockout is affecting athletes that aren't the highest paid and able to easily weather the lockout.
The full article can be found here: