Former quarterback Brett Favre will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this Saturday, August 6, honoring his 20 years playing in the NFL.
In a recent interview with Graham Bensinger, Favre looked back on his illustrious career and opened up about his struggles on and off the field — including an addiction to prescription painkillers that nearly derailed his life 20 years ago.
In 1996, Favre voluntarily entered a drug rehab facility to get treatment for a Vicodin addiction.
“I knew that I didn’t necessarily need [Vicodin] but I sure liked the way it felt,” Favre told Bensinger. “I knew it was wrong.”
Favre developed the addiction after undergoing surgery for injuries he’d sustained playing football. At the time, he was on top of the football world, having just won the league MVP during the 1995 season.
“Even though things around me seemed like they were good, internally I had hit rock bottom,” Favre told Bensinger.
Favre said his life was nearly consumed by Vicodin and his addiction began affecting his professional and personal life.
When people asked him if his drug use “knocked him out,” he would explain that it did the opposite.
“I would be up, just talking. I didn’t want to sleep until about 10 o’clock the next morning in offensive meetings,” said Favre. “It was about the only time I wanted to sleep. I’d doze off, leaning back into a coat rack in our quarterback’s meeting room.”
Although news of his opioid use disorder broke in 1996, Favre said he began struggling with painkillers three years before that. What began as taking two pills a day to manage pain quickly blossomed into a full-blown addiction.
“After a month, two [Vicodin] didn’t do anything, so you needed three,” said Favre. “Then four and so on and so forth.”
At the height of his addiction, Favre was taking 15 Vicodin a day to satisfy his drug cravings.
“A month’s prescription is 30 pills or something, depending on what they prescribe for you, and I was going through that in two days,” said Favre.
Finding Vicodin pills became increasingly difficult as Favre continued to blow through his monthly prescriptions in a matter of days. Favre began acquiring Vicodin illicitly when his own supply would run out.
After suffering an opioid-related seizure while in the hospital for ankle surgery in 1996, Favre knew he had a severe substance use disorder and needed treatment. His first step toward recovery was disposing of his supply, flushing his last four pills down the toilet.
“When I poured them in the toilet and it started to flush, I almost crawled in the toilet to go after them,” said Favre. “I thought ‘what in the world did you just do?’”
Favre says he went cold turkey and tried to fight his addiction on his own. He endured withdrawals and drug cravings before seeking professional treatment.
“That was the worst month as far as any kind of recovery I’ve gone through,” said Favre. “I shook every night, cold sweats, it was a constant battle.”
After completing the NFL’s substance abuse program and rehab treatment, Favre returned to the game he loved. Favre says football kept him going during this difficult phase of his life and became a pseudo-therapy for him.
“The one constant through all that was football, and for me, it was a good place to escape,” said Favre. “It gave me a way to escape but also feel like I was actually doing something good.”
During the 1996 NFL season, Favre was a force that could not be stopped, winning his second consecutive league MVP award. Favre’s team, the Green Bay Packers, ended the regular season with a 13-3 record before capping it off with a 35-21 Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots.
To this day, Favre is credited with reviving a Packers’ franchise that had only two playoff berths since 1968.
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