High Percentage of Retired Pro Football Players Addicted To Painkillers


According to The New York Post, several former National Football League (NFL) players have accused the league of administering painkillers without proper prescriptions or medical supervision. 

A suit filed by former NFL players in 2019 against the league eventually stalled. A judge ruled that the players failed to prove the league was responsible for the claims. 

In 2018, research published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine concluded over 26 percent of retired NFL players reported via a survey that they used prescription opioids within the past 30 days. And almost half of those players reported not using opioids as prescribed.

In an US Weekly article, one of the highest-profile stories of a former NFL star addicted to painkillers involved that of Brett Favre, the 3-time MVP-award winner and Hall of Fame quarterback, who played 20 years in the NFL, most of which was spent with the Green Bay Packers. 

Favre recently announced the bombshell that he contemplated killing himself after quitting pain pills. His addiction to opioids began in 1994 after suffering an ankle sprain. 

Now 51, Favre admitted on his podcast last week that he began taking more pain pills that was necessary as the months went on, and the night before the start of the 1995 season, he suffered a seizure, which he blamed on not being able to sleep due to his opioid addiction. 

Favre suffered a second seizure that same season after undergoing ankle surgery. Consequently, he spent 75 days in a rehab facility. The following year, 1996, Favre would end up being a Super Bowl winner, but he was once again addicted to painkillers despite the stint in rehab. 

Fast forward a year later, after collecting his third straight MVP award, The New York Post said Favre thought about killing himself. ““I was as low as I possibly could be,” Favre described himself on his podcast. 

Per the New York Post, Favre added on his podcast last week: “I said it’s one of two things — I die, or I flush these pills down the toilet. I sat by the toilet for two hours. Eventually, I dumped the pills in the toilet, flushed them and I almost wanted to kill myself because of doing that.”

Favre continued, “I could not believe that I’ve actually done that, and I was so mad at myself because now what was I gonna do?”

US Weekly reports that Favre said in his podcast that the number of supposedly “non-addictive” pills the NFL had given him that he flushed—eight—was inconsequential for pain management because he had been taking 20 a day. That amount, said New York Post, is the equivalent of taking a month’s prescription in just two days. 

Favre’s addiction to pain pills reached a high point when he would take at least 15 Vicodin ES pills—at a time. A neurologist would later blame his two seizures on his lack of sleep. Favre said on his podcast that during the time he was most heavily addicted to pain pills, he would only sleep about two hours a night. 

Favre also struggled with alcohol addiction, although he claims to have been sober since 1998. 

Many former players became addicted to painkillers in order to keep playing. But due to the highly addictive nature of opioid drugs, they have continued to take them long after retirement. Several current NFL players are also addicted to pain-killing prescription pills. Time will only tell if the NFL will be held accountable for fostering addiction to them. 

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