Retired NFL Players Struggle with Addiction

by AdamS on August 2, 2012

Football season is undoubtedly the most exciting of all sports seasons in America.  The NFL generates more revenue with its television deals with NBC, FOX, CBS, and ESPN than baseball and basketball combined.  Millions and millions of fans gather around their televisions every Sunday to watch their favorite teams battle it out.  Fans love the pace and physicality of the game.  When a player puts their body on the line to make a big play, everyone is thrilled.  This means that more often than not, many of these players are getting injured and ending up taking tons of pain medicine for a majority of their career in order to be able to continue playing at an elite level.  Taking painkillers becomes part of an everyday routine and by the time they retire it is very possible that a majority of these athletes will be addicted to prescription painkillers. Check out for more info on prescription drugs.

Ray Lucas’ Story

Ray Lucas played as a quarterback in the NFL from 1999-2003 and during his 7 year career spent a majority of his time battling injuries and other setbacks, bouncing from team to team and playing as a back-up.  Through most of his career he dealt with back and neck injuries and also extensive nerve damage that forced him to take high doses of opiate painkillers every day.  By the time he retired in 2003 he had become addicted to them.  From 2003-2010 he continued to use massive amounts of painkillers every day and his addiction basically took over his life.

Spiraling Out of Control

Unfortunately for Lucas, his doctors would just give him the pills he needed for the pain without also telling him about how addicting they could be.  He thought it was normal to take 20-25 pills a day to deal with his pain and ended up using more and more.  His addiction spiraled out of control after his retirement and he ended up losing his home, his business and came close to losing his family.  His drug addiction took precedent over everything else in his life and he became very disconnected with society, which led to severe depression.

Getting Clean

Ray Lucas hit rock bottom in 2010 and came close to suicide, his wife intervened and gave him the ultimatum: either he go to rehab or she would take the kids and leave him forever.  Lucas submitted himself to rehab for a 42 day stay and finally got the detox help and therapy he needed.  He has now been clean for over 20 months.  He will always have to deal with the pain from the neck and back injuries he sustained during his playing career, but being addicted to painkillers was a far worse pain for him and his family.

Lucas is not alone in his struggle, almost every NFL player deals with serious injuries during their careers. Many of these players continue to self medicate with opiate based prescription drugs long after they retire.   For Lucas, his future has been put back on a healthy path, hopefully more athletes will follow in his footsteps and not succumb to drug addiction. If you know someone with an addiction to pain-killers check out  to get them help.

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