Brett Favre Overcomes Painkiller Addiction

photo of Brett Favre Nov 2006

Brett Favre’s addiction to painkillers (1996)

After the seizure had ended and he had come to his senses, Favre looked into a sea of concerned medical faces and saw Packers associate team physician John Gray. “You’ve just suffered a seizure, Brett,” Gray told him. “People can die from those.” Favre’s heart sank. Upon hearing from doctors in the room that his dependence on painkillers might have contributed to the seizure, he thought, I’ve got to stop the pills, I’ve just got to.

Last season Favre went on such a wild ride with the prescription drug Vicodin, a narcotic-analgesic painkiller, that Tynes feared for his life. He scavenged pills from teammates. At least once he took 13 tablets in a night. But on Tuesday of last week, during his final telephone call before entering the Menninger Clinic, a rehabilitation center in Topeka, Kansas [which moved to Florida in 2003], to treat his dependency (and also to evaluate his occasional heavy drinking), Favre told SI that he hadn’t taken Vicodin since the seizure. “I quit cold turkey,” he said, “and I entered the NFL substance-abuse program voluntarily. I don’t want a pill now, but I want to go into a rehab center because I want to make sure I’m totally clean.

Tynes wiped her eyes. She took a deep breath. She sniffled a few times. “You know,” she said, “he’s changed already. He talks to me again. He takes Brittany and me out. He pays attention to us. A few days ago he hugged me and he thanked me for everything I’ve done, and he said some really nice things to me.”

She wiped her eyes again. “I said, ‘I can’t believe it. The old Brett’s back!'” Time will tell. The true test will start in September.

Time has shown the answer, after struggles for several years, as Brett Favre has continued his amazing NFL career with great success.

Through triumph & tragedy, Deanna and Brett Favre remain a constant

After doctors found severe liver damage in 1996, Brett agreed to enter rehab, and was able to kick his addiction. He and Deanna were married several months later and welcomed daughter Breleigh in 1999, but his problems with substance abuse had not ended. By 1999, Brett had returned to heavy partying, and was abusing alcohol. Deanna contacted a divorce attorney, which helped scare her husband into quitting drinking entirely, according to Deanna.

The 1990s tested their relationship, but Deanna ultimately appreciated that Brett chose to seek help. “He was battling a disease,” she says. “I was trying to support him, and when he started making the right choices by getting the help he needed, that made a difference.”

Life had stabilized for the Favres by 2003: Brett was sober and a Super Bowl-winning icon in Green Bay, and Brittany and Breleigh were healthy and happy. “We were at a good spot in our lives,” Deanna says.

Then, in December 2003, Brett’s father died in a car accident. The following October, Deanna’s 24-year-old brother Casey was killed when his all-terrain vehicle hit a patch of gravel and flipped. Casey had recently overcome his own drug problems, and his girlfriend was eight months pregnant when he died.

In her memoir, Deanna described the loss of her brother as the darkest time in her life, but the darkness would not pass quickly – just days after Casey’s funeral, Deanna was diagnosed with breast cancer at 35.

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Why Can’t Drug Addicts Quit on Their Own?

From the United States National Institute of Health, Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research Based Guide – Why can’t drug addicts quit on their own?

Nearly all addicted individuals believe in the beginning that they can stop using drugs on their own, and most try to stop without treatment. However, most of these attempts result in failure to achieve long-term abstinence. Research has shown that long-term drug use results in significant changes in brain function that persist long after the individual stops using drugs. These drug-induced changes in brain function may have many behavioral consequences, including the compulsion to use drugs despite adverse consequences – the defining characteristic of addiction.

Long-term drug use results in significant changes in brain function that persist long after the individual stops using drugs.

Understanding that addiction has such an important biological component may help explain an individual’s difficulty in achieving and maintaining abstinence without treatment. Psychological stress from work or family problems, social cues (such as meeting individuals from one’s drug-using past), or the environment (such as encountering streets, objects, or even smells associated with drug use) can interact with biological factors to hinder attainment of sustained abstinence and make relapse more likely. Research studies indicate that even the most severely addicted individuals can participate actively in treatment and that active participation is essential to good outcomes.

Source: NIH Publication No. 00-4180 July 2000

Related: Methods to Treat Addictionstatistics on binge drinkingDrug Treatment Success Rates in England

‘Marcia Brady’ Recovers After Drug Addiction

photos of Marcia Brady / Maureen McCormick

Maureen McCormick, best known for her role as Marcia Brady, is now 52 and has a new book – Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice

In the book, Maureen provides a behind-the-scenes view of the Brady Bunch. She reveals the lifelong friendships, the hurtful jealousies, the offscreen romance, the loving support her television family provided during a life-or-death moment, and the inconsolable loss of a man who had been a second father. But The Brady Bunch was only the beginning. Haunted by the perfection of her television alter ego, Maureen landed on the dark side, caught up in a fast-paced, drug-fueled, star-studded Hollywood existence that ultimately led to the biggest battle of her life.

The book presents a story of success. After kicking her drug habit, Maureen battled depression, reconnected with her mother, whom she nursed through the end of her life, and then found herself in a pitched battle for her family in which she ultimately triumphed. After fifty years, she has finally learned what it means to love the person you are, insight that has brought her peace in a happy marriage and as a mother.

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

Ain’t no sunshine in interventions, rehab, depression and therapy, which is what followed her “Brady” years. But in 1985 McCormick married actor Michael Cummings, and her life started to turn around. She credits his love and support, plus that of her “Brady Bunch” family, with helping her get sober.

During her troubled times, McCormick got an occasional acting role but nothing substantial. Post-recovery she became the winner on VH1’s own version of dysfunction, “Celebrity Fit Club.” More recently she starred on two other reality series, “Gone Country” and the bizarre “Outsider’s Inn.”

Related: Carrie Fisher’s Drug RehabRobin Williams Reflects on RehabPiano Man Alcoholism Treatment

Photos via ABC News

How Effective is Drug Addiction Treatment?

National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIH on how effective is drug addiction treatment:

According to several studies, drug treatment reduces drug use by 40 to 60 percent and significantly decreases criminal activity during and after treatment. For example, a study of therapeutic community treatment for drug offenders (See Treatment Section) demonstrated that arrests for violent and nonviolent criminal acts were reduced by 40 percent or more. Methadone treatment has been shown to decrease criminal behavior by as much as 50 percent. Research shows that drug addiction treatment reduces the risk of HIV infection and that interventions to prevent HIV are much less costly than treating HIV-related illnesses. Treatment can improve the prospects for employment, with gains of up to 40 percent after treatment.

Although these effectiveness rates hold in general, individual treatment outcomes depend on the extent and nature of the patient’s presenting problems, the appropriateness of the treatment components and related services used to address those problems, and the degree of active engagement of the patient in the treatment process.

Generally, for residential or outpatient treatment, participation for less than 90 days is of limited or no effectiveness, and treatments lasting significantly longer often are indicated. For methadone maintenance, 12 months of treatment is the minimum, and some opiate-addicted individuals will continue to benefit from methadone maintenance treatment over a period of years.

Good outcomes are contingent on adequate lengths of treatment.

Related: Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, HHSDrug Treatment Success Rates in EnglandMethods to Treat Addiction