For a long time, no one in the public eye wanted to speak out about mental health issues because of the stigma attached, but as problems like depression and bipolar are better understood, sufferers are becoming more vocal. New York Jets backup quarterback Erik Ainge recently went public with his ongoing use of pot, alcohol, cocaine, heroin and prescription meds, the latter of which became an addiction. Ainge also announced that he suffers from bipolar disorder, a condition that likely contributes to his drug abuse.
Experts aren’t surprised to hear about Ainge’s co-occurring disorders. Studies have shown that a high percentage of all addicts have a co-occurring mental health issue like depression, bipolar, trauma or PTSD. They often begin using to self-medicate those issues and eventually become addicted. Addiction experts have found that treating addiction and any underlying mental health addiction together in a dual diagnosis program is the most effective, providing the best chance at long-term sobriety.
As a professional athlete, Ainge had achieved something that is the dream of hundreds of thousands of little boys (and some grown men). And yet he was living in a way that would destroy that career through drunk driving, multiple overdoses, several relapses, and missing the entire 2010 season because of his addiction, ESPN reports. In the late stages of his addiction, Ainge admits he was taking 25 Percocet at a time. Then five hours later, he’d do it again.
Ainge says he’s been clean since July 17, 2010 — his longest stretch of sobriety since he was 11. Now he’s trying to help others by speaking out about his addiction and mental illness. His future in football remains uncertain, but he’s putting his sobriety first. “It’s not like I’m fine and I’m cured and I’m ready to go, gung-ho, back at it,” he tells ESPN. “I want this to be the last time that I ever have to try to get clean, and I’m going slowly.”
Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment
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