Addiction in the NFL

Authored by Claire Cheshire

Edited by Alexander Bentley

Reviewed by Philippa Gold

Addiction in the NFL

 

A life of bone-crunching tackles that replicate the impact from a small car has left may current and former NFL players in never-ending pain. The toll of a professional football career can be seen on the bodies of many players who struggle to get out of bed in the morning.

 

Painkillers have become a common form of relief, mostly temporary, for many NFL players. The constant tackles and colliding bodies are only one source of pain players feel. Joints, tendons, and ligaments are under constant stress thanks to many pro footballers being overweight. A person’s body can carry only so much weight be it muscle or fat, and when the body supports too much mass it breaks down over time. Unfortunately, the NFL lifestyle is damaging the long-term futures of its players and addiction to pain numbing medication has been turned to by individuals to alleviate their issues.

 

Medication to reduce pain is nothing new in the NFL. According to a 2019 New York Times article, former NFL running back Earl Campbell (1978 to 1985) first took painkillers when a trainer from the Houston Oilers gave them to him. Former Tamp Bay Buccaneers center Randy Grimes played 10 seasons in the NFL.

 

By the time of his second season, the pain during the week was unbearable and Grimes began mixing Vicodin and Halcion to get through full-contact practices. Grimes went on to recover from his painkiller addiction but not without the help of rehab. At his painkiller addiction peak, Grimes took up to 45 pills per day and is lucky to be alive.

 

It is difficult to know just how many NFL players use or are addicted to painkillers. Many players that pop pills do so to keep their jobs in the league. A player may justify their addiction as it allows them to practice and play to keep the paychecks rolling in. However, it isn’t just the players who are guilty of popping painkillers to keep their jobs. As Campbell’s story shows, NFL team doctors and trainers have been guilty of supplying addictive painkillers to players for decades11.M. Chiari, NFL Sued by Former Players Who Allege Illegal Use of Painkillers to Mask Injury | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors | Bleacher Report, Bleacher Report.; Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2069944-nfl-sued-by-former-players-who-allege-illegal-use-of-painkillers-to-mask-injury.

 

The league has faced class action lawsuits in the past over allegations of teams supplying players with medication to get them back on the field. With the news of concussions and CTE as a black eye on the NFL and allegedly covering up medical knowledge of head injuries, it seems completely legitimate that the league’s teams risked their players’ health to get them onto the gridiron.

 

Players that have justified taking painkillers during their careers find it to be a difficult addiction to end after retirement. Painkillers are widely available from doctors and trainers creating a stream of medication to fuel addiction. Yet, once their careers finish, the stream dries up and ex-players find themselves in residential rehab22.A. B. Chairman & CEO Remedy Wellbeing, REMEDY Wellbeing® – The Most Unique & Exclusive Rehab in the World, Remedy Wellbeing.; Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://remedywellbeing.com.

 

Painkiller misuse creates a destructive addiction to opioids. Ex-NFL players spend their lives going down a spiral of addiction as they attempt to remedy the pain they now live with. Pills enable players to play through the pain barrier, and as Campbell told the New York Times, he never used them before entering the NFL.

 

As players have got bigger, so has the pain. In response, pain medication is now far stronger than ever before and more addictive. The drugs are now also far more dangerous and can take a person’s financial stability – and life – in no time.

 

Addiction in the NFL is rampant and as Grimes’ story showed, a player doesn’t have to have had a serious injury to need painkillers. They may simply be used to cope with the contact and collisions. Unless something is done, the NFL is likely to see more players addicted to pain medication in the future.

 

Previous: Opioid Addiction in the MLB

Next: Adrenaline Addiction

  • 1
    1.M. Chiari, NFL Sued by Former Players Who Allege Illegal Use of Painkillers to Mask Injury | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors | Bleacher Report, Bleacher Report.; Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2069944-nfl-sued-by-former-players-who-allege-illegal-use-of-painkillers-to-mask-injury
  • 2
    2.A. B. Chairman & CEO Remedy Wellbeing, REMEDY Wellbeing® – The Most Unique & Exclusive Rehab in the World, Remedy Wellbeing.; Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://remedywellbeing.com
CEO at Worlds Best Rehab | Website | + posts

Alexander Bentley is the CEO of Worlds Best Rehab Magazine™ as well as the creator & pioneer behind Remedy Wellbeing Hotels & Retreats and Tripnotherapy™, embracing ‘NextGen’ psychedelic bio-pharmaceuticals to treat burnout, addiction, depression, anxiety and psychological unease.

Under his leadership as CEO, Remedy Wellbeing Hotels™ received the accolade of Overall Winner: International Wellness Hotel of the Year 2022 by International Rehabs. Because of his incredible work, the individual luxury hotel retreats are the world’s first $1 million-plus exclusive wellness centers providing an escape for individuals and families requiring absolute discretion such as Celebrities, Sportspeople, Executives, Royalty, Entrepreneurs and those subject to intense media scrutiny.

We strive to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information on the web so our readers can make informed decisions about their healthcare. Our subject matter experts specialize in addiction treatment and behavioral healthcare. We follow strict guidelines when fact-checking information and only use credible sources when citing statistics and medical information. Look for the badge Worlds Best Rehab on our articles for the most up-to-date and accurate information. on our articles for the most up-to-date and accurate information. If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate or out-of-date, please let us know via our Contact Page

Disclaimer: We use fact-based content and publish material that is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by professionals. The information we publish is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider. In a Medical Emergency contact the Emergency Services Immediately.