On the latest episode of his podcast, former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre shared a personal story about opioid addiction: his own.
On the March 23 episode of "Bolling with Favre," the retired QB and his podcast partner, Eric Bolling, spoke with Dr. Phil about how opioid and other addictions have been on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic. Favre then opened up about his addiction to painkillers, which spanned from 1994-97 and included the Packers' 1996 Super Bowl season.
Favre's addiction started with an injury
Favre said that his addiction began during the 1994 season, and it started with a separated shoulder he got from future teammate Reggie White during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. He got a pain shot at halftime, but after the game he was given several Vicodin ES, which he took. He enjoyed the effect of the pills, and quickly learned how to get more.
"It sort of numbed the pain, but it also felt pretty good," Favre said. "I found that if the pain lingered, if you know what I mean, I could get more pills. And it snuck up on me. It was two pills that gave me a buzz, and then it was four. At its peak, I was taking 16 Vicodin ES all at one time."
Favre said that he didn't get addicted right away. He sprained his ankle a few weeks later, and while he knew that the injury wasn't bad enough to require painkillers, he remembered how good he felt when he took them. So he asked for them. That happened two or three times during the course of the season, and soon he was taking two pills a day and asking his teammates to get pills for him.
"I could get away with getting two a day, because it was two," Favre said. "So maybe the third day I would ask another player to get two pills, so I just didn't ask the same person. And you start learning how to manipulate the system, and you become very good at it."
'I was as low as I could possibly be'
Favre's addiction continued into the 1995 season, and it was discovered by a doctor in Green Bay who was treating him after he had a seizure. Favre told the doctor that he would stop taking them, but he didn't, and continued to abuse opioids during the entire 1995 season.
He had a "come to Jesus" moment after the season was over, when he had another seizure while he was in the hospital for ankle surgery. He told the people in his life, as well as the NFL, what was going on, and he went to rehab for 75 days. But he wasn't going through rehab honestly.
"I finally figured out, agree with what they're saying," Favre said. "In other words, manipulate again. And then when I got out, I continued to do what I was doing."
The Packers won the Super Bowl at the conclusion of the 1996 season, but Favre had fallen right back into addiction. When he was home in Mississippi during the offseason, he had his real "come to Jesus" moment.
"I was as low as I possibly could be ... 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. I could not believe that I had actually done that, and I was so mad at myself because now what was I gonna do?
"It was really not the way you want to come off of pain pills, because it could kill you. I shook with cold sweats, hot sweats every night. ... But that was the last time. I was clean. It took me a couple months to get over the urge, but slowly but surely, by the grace of God, I got beyond."
Favre said that he also had a destructive relationship with alcohol and went to rehab in 1998 after his wife gave him an ultimatum. He said that he hasn't touched a drop of alcohol since.
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