The struggle of addiction is all too common for so many, and it tends to be a reality for those who find themselves with money and success.
For All-Pro Hall of Fame NFL linebacker Lawrence Taylor, this was the case.
Along with his illustrious professional career, Taylor spent years in and out of rehabilitation for his addiction to drugs and alcohol, struggling to find a way to take back control of his life.
On November 24, Taylor sat down with Per Wickstrom of A Forever Recovery, and spoke candidly about his struggles with addiction, including how many times he entered rehab, how he lost control and how he regained it.
“I look back at myself, I had to go through rehab a couple of times; not once, not twice, not three times. I think it’s hard to grasp, hard for us to get it,” said Taylor.
“Usually when you go to rehab, you’re not going because you think you need to go, sometimes it’s the court system that put you there, your mother or father put you there, your wife, so it’s hard for us to grasp that drugs are a powerful thing.
“We think that when we go, especially when we go because somebody else sent us there, we have in our minds, ‘I’m having too much fun. I ain’t going to stop this, I’m just going to get the heat off a little bit and get this under control.’”
That mentality — going into rehabilitation to appease others — is a mindset that many people have when they first enter recovery, but the truth is, the addict needs to want the change in order for change to happen, and it took time for Taylor to grasp that.
“I was there for 10 days one time, I was there for 30 days, and I just didn’t get it. I just thought it was a place to hide out and get the heat off for awhile,” said Taylor. “I just wanted to be able to make a decision again because drugs and alcohol get you to a point where you’re no longer in control, the drug is in control.
“All I wanted was the opportunity to make my own decision again. It started out as a recreational thing and then it became an all-day job.”
Taylor admits that he wanted the easy solution, a pill or a shot to make his addiction go away, but the reality is, there is no easy way out. You have to put in the effort in order to see results.
After one 30-day stint in rehab, Taylor said he credits his counselor Charlie to saying the words that finally got him to change.
When Taylor first entered the facility he wanted everything done his way, including having a TV, his own room, his cell phone, and other luxuries. He finished those 30 days feeling no different and finally Charlie asked him if he was ready to do it his way, and Taylor complied.
It was then that he finally got it. He knew what he needed to do in order to overcome his addiction, and he did it for himself.
“I took my cell phone away. I got a roommate. I started going to all the meetings. I got it, and thank God, I’ve been free for 16 years,” said Taylor. “Now, do I still think about it? Sure, but not like I used to. It got to a point that sobriety was my thing. It was something that no one could take away from me, except for myself. People think that they can be a controlled addict, but you can’t.
“I know people who have been sober for awhile — drug-free for awhile — get back into it, because they think they can change all that in three days, or one month. But it took years to become an addict, it’s going to take years to not be an addict. You think, ‘I will change everything and my whole life will change when I’m no longer an addict.’
“But guess what, it doesn’t really change. The problems you had when you were out there drugging, are the same problems you’re going to have to face when you’re sober. Only thing is that you face them sober. Don’t try to get it all back at one time, take things one at a time, and get your life back.”