Brett Favre opens up about going to rehab three times for painkillers, alcohol
Brett Favre’s streak of consecutive games started is something that will likely never be broken by another NFL quarterback, but it may not have been possible without the help of painkillers — a dangerous amount of painkillers, that is.
As part of his final column for The MMQB, Peter King of Sports Illustrated spoke with Favre and recalled some time he spent interviewing the Hall of Fame quarterback in 1995. Looking back, Favre was very candid about how he was struggling with a pain pill addiction at the time.
“Oh, I remember that week,” Favre said. “You thought, ‘Man, this guys’s high on life.’ You didn’t know there was a reason for it. It is really amazing, as I think back, how well I played that year. That was an MVP year for me. But that year, when I woke up in the morning, my first thought was, ‘I gotta get more pills.’ I took 14 Vicodin, yes, one time. I was getting an hour or two of sleep many nights. Maybe 30 minutes of quality sleep. I was the MVP on a pain-pill buzz. The crazy thing was, I’m not a night owl. Without pills I’d fall asleep at 9:30. But with pills, I could get so much done, I just figured, ‘This is awesome.’ Little did I know [fiancée and now wife] Deanna would be finding some of my pills and when she did, she’d flush them down the toilet.”
King said he was aware that Favre had gone to rehab once to address his painkiller addiction, but Favre told him over the weekend that he actually made three separate trips.
“I actually went to rehab three times. I saw the most successful, smart people—doctors, professional people—lose it all, ruin their lives,” he said. “A year or two before you saw me, I went to a place in Rayville, La., just outside Monroe. It was pills then too. Deanna and [agent] Bus [Cook] talked me into it. I didn’t think I had a problem, but they talked me into it. I went for 28 days. When I got out, I was able to control myself for a while. I wouldn’t take anything for a day or two, and I wouldn’t drink. But I was a binge drinker. When I drank, I drank to excess. So when I went in the second time, to the place in Kansas, I remember vividly fighting them in there. They said drinking was the gateway drug for me, and they were right, absolutely right, but I wouldn’t admit it. I will never forget one of the nurses. I had it all figured out. I fought with this nurse all the time. I would not admit the drinking problem. At the end she said to me, ‘You’ll be back.’
“I was back. 1998. Guess who was waiting there when I walked in — that same nurse. This time it was strictly for drinking. I didn’t go back to the pills. I admitted my problem, I was in there 28 days, and it worked. When I got out, the toughest thing was the first three months, because I had to change my thought process. When I played golf before, I realized the only reason I wanted to play was to drink. After a while, instead of thinking, ‘How many beers can we drink in 18 holes?’ I fell into a pattern of what could I do to get good at golf. I realized with each passing day I really didn’t like drinking.”
Favre is often viewed as one of the toughest guys to ever play football, but some of the revelations he has made since he called it a career are downright horrifying. Hopefully younger players listen to what he has to say and try to learn from it.