LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — One former NFL player is joining the fight against the opioid epidemic in the U.S.
Former Detroit Lions tight end Derek Price is no longer living the football life, but knows the struggle of adjusting to life after playing in the NFL.
Some athletes self medicate after their days playing professional football to push through injuries.
“There is no gradual off-ramp. You are playing today and then you’re out of the league,” Price said. “Unfortunately, those habits stay with you. Some guys might have used too many pills or fell too deep into the bottle. Their life long dream is over.”
Price says stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic can trigger bad habits for those struggling with addiction. That is why the NFL Alumni Association partnered with American Addiction Centers (AAC) to provide a life line for former players, their spouses and children.
Price is the CEO of Desert Hope, a comprehensive residential addiction treatment facility in Las Vegas. The treatment center is part of AAC.
Together, the organizations are offering a scholarship to those suffering from drug addiction.
“We put about $3 million worth of care up. We’re saying hey, giving it to Beasley and saying, use this judiciously. If you need more, let us know,” Price told 8 News Now.
Beasley Reece, another former NFL player and member of the NFL Alumni Association says Price’s work is inspiring.
“For him to reach back, for his company to be so generous, to think back to the guys he played with, guys that are struggling and not as successful as he has been to make this offer, it’s incredible,” Reece said.
Reece and Rice recognize that there is a fight to end the stigma surrounding addiction. They hope this program encourages current and former heroes on the field that it is okay to ask for help.
“It is an issue in our league and in our association. It is not much higher than the general population, but it does exist,” Reece said. “Our job with the NFL Alumni is to help guys live better in retirement.”
“I’d rather have someone upset with me, saying I can’t believe you reached into my personal life. I can live with that, better than living with the fact that I didn’t say anything and they OD and pass away,” Price said.
If you or an athlete you know is facing drug addiction, you can call the Desert Hope hotline. The number is (888) 983-0927.