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Athletes and Drug Use: How Johnny Football Tackled His Issues

Johnny Manziel holding his Heisman Trophy at the ceremony where he was awarded the honor.
Johnny Manziel may never return to the glory of his college football days, but he says he’s addressed the issues that tanked his career.


Johnny Manziel: The first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy and the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL draft with a short-lived gig as starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.

It seemed like the stars had aligned for the young star. But in 2016, he was released by the Browns. The reason? Frequent trips to Las Vegas to party, missed team meetings and even a domestic violence charge. His agent dropped him and his father called him a “druggie” and said he feared he’d be dead by his 24th birthday.

Manziel had spiraled out of control and there didn’t appear to be light at the end of the tunnel. Then, something big happened.

Manziel was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He realized he’d been self-medicating with alcohol and drugs and resolved to straighten his life out.

“I can’t help the fact that my wires are crossed a little differently than yours,” he told “Good Morning America” in February. “The main thing to me is not physical health. It’s mental.”

Mental Health and Addiction

Compared with individuals with no mood disorders, those with bipolar disorder are approximately seven times more likely to have a substance use disorder.

That astonishing—and enlightening — statistic was found in a 2005 study conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina. But it confirms what has long been known to be true at treatment programs across America. People struggling with mental health issues often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to feel better.

The solution, as Manziel found, is to address both the addiction and the mental health issue. In the rehab community, that’s called dual diagnosis treatment and it means that both issues are addressed at the same time during rehab.

As for Manziel, his goal since being cut from the Browns has been to get back on the field—and it’s about to happen.

Manziel is joining the NFL’s Spring League, which was created in 2017 to help grow and showcase talent for potential NFL and Canadian Football League teams. Games will be held from March 28 to April 15 in Austin, Texas.

Whether Manziel will make it back to the NFL is an open question, but what is clear is that he couldn’t fix his problems or manage his addiction without first addressing his mental health.

Drug and Alcohol Rehab in Colorado

No matter what addiction has taken away from you, there is a way to get your life back on track. At The Raleigh House, we believe that everyone can break free from the chains of drugs or alcohol. Treatment isn’t just about giving something up; it’s about finding your own path to happiness and fulfillment, which often means addressing co-occurring conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about our drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs.

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