Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre has opened up on his substance abuse problems.
Favre’s toughness and reputation as the NFL’s Iron Man is well-documented, with the retired passer holding the NFL record for consecutive starts at 297. Favre famously battled through injuries during his career, but for a short stretch that was aided by painkillers.
Speaking on the latest episode of the “Bolling with Favre” podcast, Favre opened up about his Vicodin abuse throughout his career and how he took as many as 16 pills at a time at the height of his addiction.
“It sort of numbed the pain, but it also felt pretty good,” Favre said on the podcast. “I found that if the pain lingered — if you know what I mean — I could get more pills. And 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.”
Favre said that he first started on his painkiller regimen when he suffered a separated shoulder in 1994, eventually taking up to two pills a day and sometimes asking teammates to get him pills to skirt the system.
At the height of his addiction, Favre said he was good at “manipulating” the system and that he had seizures that eventually forced him into a 75-day rehab in Kansas. Favre said that his rehab stint was fairly ineffective because he fell back into the same cycle as before.
It was in 1996, after the Packers’ Super Bowl victory, that Favre said he had his “come to Jesus” moment, noting that he felt there were two ways out of his addiction: quitting or death.
I was home in Mississippi, and I was as low as I possibly could be. … I said it’s one of two things: I die or I flush these pills down the toilet. I sat by the toilet for two hours.
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? …
It was really not the way you want to come off of pain pills, because it could kill you. I shook with cold sweats, hot sweats every night. But that was the last time. 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.
Favre gave up painkillers, but turned to alcohol, eventually landing in rehab for alcohol abuse, as well. Favre said he hasn’t had any alcohol since 1998.