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Brett Favre Gets Honest About His Past Painkiller Addiction

Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre is widely known as one of the all-time football greats. During 20 seasons in the NFL, Favre racked up a Super Bowl win with the Packers, many MVP awards, and dozens of broken records, cementing his status as one of the league’s hall-of-fame-worthy quarterback players.

Favre attended college at Southern Miss, and was an accomplished football player at the school. During his college years, Favre was involved in a serious car accident, which caused him to have significant intestinal injuries caused by a blood blockage. Favre not only went on to play again, but was chosen by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL draft in 1991. He spent one season with the Falcons before being picked up by Green Bay.

In the mid-late 1990s, Favre was at the top of his game—stadiums sold out to watch him play, and his jersey became a staple not only in the Green Bay area, but around the world. As time passed, and Favre became further removed from his football career, secrets began to come out: Favre was suffering from a painkiller addiction behind the scenes.

During his time with the Packers, Favre publicly struggled with injuries, and suffered from everything from shoulder separation, to sprained ankles, to concussions and bone spurs. An ESPN article documents at least 19 separate, significant injuries that Favre endured during his days as a quarterback—and yet he played on.

As Favre recovered from plight after plight, he was often prescribed painkillers, though the more pills he took, the more dependent he became. In a recent episode of his own podcast, Boiling with Favre, he got personal about how his addiction came to be.

“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,” he said.

Favre mentioned that he found that if “the pain lingered,” he would be more likely to get a refill on his prescriptions. He fell into this pattern for many years, and even learned how to get additional pills from teammates when his scripts ran out.

In 1996, the same year that the Packers won the Super Bowl under Favre’s leadership, Favre suffered two seizures as the result of his painkiller consumption. At that time, Favre went public with his addiction, and entered rehab as part of the NFL’s substance abuse program.

Later on, Favre would reveal that he attended rehab three separate times before officially becoming sober.

On the podcast, Favre recalled his lowest moments, saying, “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?”

Favre recalled that he quit painkillers “cold turkey” and that although it was extremely difficult, he had finally broken his cycle of relapse and recovery for good.

“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,” he said.

Favre went on to play many more seasons in the NFL, eventually going on the play for the Minnesota Vikings and the New York Jets, before retiring in 2010 at the age of 41. At the time, he was one of the oldest quarterbacks in NFL history.

Now 51 years old, Favre has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and still makes plenty of media appearances in his retirement.

As he speaks out more about his journey to recovery, Favre provides hope to other athletes who are struggling with pain and addiction, as well as the millions of others who are forging their own path in sobriety.

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