Ryan Leaf had the career he always wanted – in 1998, he was going to play in the NFL, make millions and get to do what he really loved. As the No. 2 NFL draft pick, Leaf started as the Chargers’ starting quarterback and won his first two starts. During his career, Leaf played for Dallas, San Diego, Seattle and Tampa Bay but after four unproductive seasons in the NFL, Leaf quit professional football in 2002. In an effort to fill the void, the former NFL quarterback moved to drug addiction for which he even served 32 months in prison. However, today, he is a different person, a sober Leaf, who works for the Pac-12 network and hosts an XM radio show from his home in Los Angeles.
His journey into the world of addiction began at a post-fight party at the MGM Grand Hotel, where Leaf was offered two pills of Vicodin by an acquaintance. Although Leaf had used the drug as a painkiller during his career for orthopedic surgeries, that night, he took it recreationally. The pills did their job – the emotional and physical pain he felt was gone, and he felt relaxed. However, soon he got addicted to them and took the pills from doctors and even from students whom he coached. In his own words, every morning after waking up, he would check if he had sufficient pills. For the next eight years, Leaf was addicted. But the worst was yet to come.
From self-loathing to helping others in need
On April 1, 2012, Leaf noticed that he had run out of his medications. Not knowing what to do, he started looking for ways to kill himself. He tried slashing his wrists and even drove to his parents’ house to suffocate himself in their garage, but failed. Disappointed and confused, Leaf went searching for more pills – broke into a nearby house and managed to get some. Soon after that, Leaf was convicted for burglary and criminal possession, and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
According to Leaf, while in prison, he was angry, judgmental, fearful of everything, miserable and self-loathing as ever. But things changed for the better when Leaf met his guardian angel – a cellmate who was a military veteran. For the very first time in his life, things looked positive. Leaf was helping prison inmates read. During his jail term, Leaf also realized that his present circumstances were a result of his own actions. Leaf was released after serving 32 months in prison.
In 2017, three years after his release, Leaf started an organization to provide affordable rehab to those struggling with drug addiction and mental health issues. Six years into his sobriety, Leaf now travels across the country and shares his story. According to him, one of the most difficult things in addiction recovery is the perception that addiction is more of a choice, a lifestyle disease; the stigma surrounding it; lack of treatment options and failure in determining one’s level of sickness. According to Leaf, no matter what, asking for help is one of the best options. “The biggest part of all of this, no matter what anybody takes away from anything, I think they need to understand that asking for help is the strongest thing they will ever do,” he said.
Treatment for Vicodin addiction
Vicodin is often prescribed to treat pain that mimics the effect of morphine and provides a euphoric high to its users. The drug is highly addictive and can lead to a host of issues, including organ damage and Vicodin addiction.
One of the leading drug addiction treatment providers in Florida, Sovereign Health offers top-notch treatment for Vicodin addiction at its specialized facilities across the state. Basis individual symptoms, Vicodin addiction treatment may comprise medically supervised detox, behavioral therapy followed by an aftercare program to avoid relapse. For more information on our evidence-based treatment programs or to locate our centers, call us at our 24/7 helpline number or chat live online with our representative.
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