Author: Justin Mckibben
This Monday Christ Forester, the offensive line coach from the Miami Dolphins, resigned from his position after 25 years in the NFL. Forester was one of the highest paid assistants in the league, even though he only became a Dolphins coach a year ago. His recent departure from the coaching staff comes only 12 hours after a video of him snorting a white powdery substance off an office desk went viral.
So what does this recent scandal tell us about drug abuse?
A Social Media Scandal
The 56-second video shows Forester himself appears to be filming while speaking into the camera. During the course of the video Forester states:
“Hey baby, miss you, thinking about you,” he says to the camera. He says he is about to go into a meeting and is “doing this before I go.”
Kijuana Nige, a Las Vegas model, first posted the video on Sunday to Facebook. It has since been deleted. At one point on the post to the social media site, Nige had stated people were upset with her actions “like I forced blown down this man’s nose” with the term “blow” being commonly known as slang for the illegal drug cocaine.
Screen-captured images of a post on Twitter with pictures from the video also show Nige stating:
“Those are his habits and he recorded himself and sent it to me professing his love.”
Kijuana Nige also claims that she used to date the Dolphins coach, and sources indicate the video was recorded sometime this year.
The Football Fall-Out
Other parts of the caption in the comments take on a more political tone, as Nige talks about posting the video and exposing the Dolphins coach as a way to respond to the backlash against black NFL players who are participating in protests of police brutality on the sidelines of football games.
The video was posted the same day that it was reported the Dolphins head coach Adam Gase has made it a team rule that players are required to stand for the Anthem. Apparently, players who do not wish to stand for the National Anthem on the Dolphins team must stay in the tunnel during the ceremony.
In her social media crusade, Nige has also implied that she has other videos she could make public. She states:
“They better leave ppl (people) like Colin Kaepernick alone before I pick off more of’ em”
Of course, this refers to the 49ers former quarterback who was the first player to take a knee and vocalize his reasons for protesting.
Following the growing controversy of the viral video, the Dolphins coach made a statement saying,
“I am resigning from my position with the Miami Dolphins and accept full responsibility for my actions,”…”I want to apologize to the organization and my sole focus is on getting the help that I need with the support of my family and medical professionals.”
The Dolphins also made a public statement that included:
“We were made aware of the video late last night and have no tolerance for this behavior.”
“Although Chris is no longer with the organization, we will work with him to get the help he needs during this time.”
While the Dolphins made it clear that they had accepted Foresters resignation immediately, they still say are going to support Forester in getting help, which may mean some addiction treatment or other recovery resources.
Exposing Drug Abuse
Of course, this isn’t the first time some form of public figure in the sports world has been exposed for drug use. Even coaches in high school, college or professional sports have been caught from time to time in some kind of drug scandal. In some cases, it is performance enhancing. Other times it is the recreational use of illicit drugs.
However, this is the only time (at least that I have ever heard of) that a viral video has shown an NFL coach in the act of consuming drugs. So it is a unique case.
Yet, when drug abuse is exposed in the media it actually reveals the best and the worst of our reactions to issues concerning drug abuse and addiction. Some people will immediately begin to demonize the individual. But the better side we get to see is that at least the Dolphins franchise has said they will support his efforts to get help. In a way, a story like this points again to the very real fact that anyone can struggle with drug abuse. Celebrities, decorated athletes, and even extremely successful professionals can struggle with substance use.
If we can accept an NFL coach has made a mistake but is willing to step down and get help, maybe we can show more compassion to those around us who need help; maybe we need to have more compassion for ourselves. Either way, instead of stirring up more contention and controversy let us support those who need a way out.
In recovery from drug abuse and addiction, we are all on the same team. It’s easy to see how substance abuse affects more than the average individual. Even celebrities and professionals can get caught in the grips. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
News outlets around the world are buzzing away about Australian Football League (AFL) star Lance “Buddy” Franklin. Arguably the biggest name in the AFL, Lane Franklin has left the league because of a mental health condition.
(By the way, if you’re a fan of football and wondering the difference between American football (NFL) and Australian football (AFL), read up on it, it’s pretty interesting)
Lance Franklin has garnered a ton of media attention and his story highlights the persistent stigma surrounding mental illness. Franklin is not the only high-profile athlete to struggle with mental illness. English cricketer Johnathan Trott withdrew from the games due to mental health. Also, since 2011, New York Jets footballer Brandon Marshall has made it his mission to break the taboo of mental illness by discussing his experience with borderline personality disorder.
The increase of mental health issues is getting the spotlight and sports is breaking the stigmas and perceptions of what it is to be mentally ill. People are now realizing that mental illness does not affect the “weak” but actually affects everyone around us, even those we perceive as strong and tough like athletes.
It really should not come as a surprise since nearly 1 and 5 people in the United States suffer from mental illness each year. Why then is it so difficult for us to talk about it?
The increased awareness brought on from nationwide sports teams is a step in the right direction. Previously, the stigma around sports culture was that people should remain strong in the face of adversity. The “get on with it” approach was overwhelmingly encouraged.
Fortunately, significant progress is being made in how most look at mental illness now and sports have a lot to do with it. Results from a national online survey on mental health, anxiety and suicide revealed that 90% of Americans equally value mental health and physical health.
The survey also showed that younger people ages 18 to 24 are increasingly more comfortable with seeking medical help and more consider it a sign a strength to see a medical health professional compared with older people.
How sports around the globe are getting involved:
- Strides made by New York Jets footballer Brandon Marshall, who struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder, have helped break the taboo associated with mental illness.
“I’ll make myself vulnerable if it saves someone’s life because I know what I went through this summer helped save mine,” Marshall said in 2011.
- In Australia, The Beyond Blue Cup is now an annual event for sport teams to promote awareness and reduce stigma at a national level and all funds raised go to mental health services.
- Sydney formed a non-for-profit organization One Wave to tackle stigma in surfing. They wore fluorescent clothes to stimulate discussion of mental illness.
- In the United Kingdom, their sporting teams have joined forces with the deputy prime mister to remove the stigma around mental health. The hashtag #SportsMinds has been used to raise awareness and tackle discrimination on the ground of mental health.
As more awareness of mental health increases in the upcoming decades, the hope is that more people feel comfortable being open about their condition. It is about time we begin treating mental health issues the same way we treat physical health issues. Many go years and years without getting the treatment they need. Even worse, people with mental health issues fall into “self-treating” through the use of drugs and alcohol. This simply is not the answer.
Destigmatizing mental illness through the stories of sporting heroes is a powerful way of starting a conversation and raising awareness. The perceptions of millions of people can shift in the right direction. Mental illness affects everyone: no one is too tough or immune. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Ball is life. You may have heard this said once or twice, especially if you know any hardcore athletes or fitness fanatics who have a healthy appetite for sports. Staying active is a huge part of staying happy for some people, and it gives them an outlet for their passions, so it is no surprise that there is a group of people who are using sports to help them battle with their addictions. More specifically, these guys are using basketball to overcome their adversities. It seems for some, ball truly does mean life. Because what this group is doing is helping save lives.
Rebound for Life
Byron Thompson, founded this new athletic rehabilitation program “Rebound” years ago in Milwaukee to help himself in a battle with his alcohol addiction. Thompson has said,
“Absolutely. It definitely saved my life,”
“It’s a starting over. So I had to start over and it’s helping other guys to start over and just realize that people are out using substances and not living the way they were born to live,”
Rebound has been designed as an outlet for men who are working through a substance abuse program, regardless of whether it is voluntarily or court mandated, and it uses basketball as a more exciting and exhilarating way to bring people together who may not normally meet.
But it is not all fun and games. Building an emphasis on the discussion of strategies for overcoming addiction through group meetings is what has been so vital to the success of this outreach program. Thompson went on to say,
“We’re not just gonna roll out the basketballs. We’re going to get together and we’re going to talk about issues. We’re going to help each other out. If somebody needs a ride, if somebody needs a job, if somebody needs housing, we’re going to help each other. We’ve had guys that don’t even play basketball just come for the meeting part because that’s the community. That’s where we network. That’s where we meet people who have done it before,”
So while some may hear the idea initially and think that it’s a group just trying to white-knuckle it by burning off aggression on the court, it is more than just exercise and diversion. Rebound is about bringing men together for a common goal while also providing a means by which some men can work off some energy and feel closer to others through team activities.
The Rebound program has done a lot for the people in the community. Ryan Perez had played basketball and football at Greendale High School, but his biggest struggles came after going to college at UW-Oshkosh when he began to fight an uphill battle with addiction to pain medication and then heroin. Perez shared some of his own experience, stating:
“There came a point in my addiction where there was, it was kind of like life didn’t mean anything anymore. I guess maybe I did think about (ending my life). I needed to find a new way. I didn’t know how to until I asked for help and that was one of the biggest things. I never wanted to ask for help,”
So many men and women across the country can relate. Too many addicts never get the help they need because they never ask for it. Be it out of fear, denial or just not knowing the help is there, too many people don’t get the opportunity. But once Perez finally got help, he found that Rebound had so much to offer him, and Perez has been sober for going on 3 years, and he wants to help other men do the same.
Patrick Reilly is a placement director and recovery coach for SALS Recovery Houses & Coaching in Waukesha who talked about his own experience with addiction, and said that Rebound has supported so many different people.
“Addiction doesn’t discriminate. If you look out on the court — there’s old, young, black, white, gay, straight — it doesn’t really matter. Addiction touches everyone,”
Thompson runs the Rebound program on Milwaukee’s East Side, and Reilly is the director of the Rebound West in Waukesha. Both of these ball-players believe the pre-game meetings are a must, and insist that a lot can get done in that 15 minutes between shooting hoops. Reilly is happy to have found a purpose in life, and said:
“It’s not uncommon to have a guy with 24 years of sobriety sitting with a guy who has 24 hours. If we can get those two talking, it was worth it that night. It means everything.”
It is incredible how many men can be brought together for a few hours to play a game that they love, and talk about the changes in their lives. It almost sounds like a 12 step meeting, but with a lot more running and sweating. These men seem to have a strong fellowship, and hold each other accountable while still challenging each other on and off the court. For those who are in the midst of addiction, Reilly has this message:
“I promise you, I promise you, it gets better. There is hope. It can be done. You can start over and you can enjoy life without substances. There’s help in Milwaukee. Just pick up the phone,”
“It really does work, and there is fun to have — even at a place of desperate time. Really — reach out for help. There are programs like this all over,”
So if you aren’t sure what kind of recovery you can have once you have stepped away from drugs or alcohol, keep in mind there are groups out there that run at a different pace. Some challenge one another to pursue all types of passions, be it art or athletics. Rebound uses basketball to box-out addiction and score some serious points for team sobriety.
Recovery can mean finding a new love and new motivation for the things you once loved, or being inspired to try new things that add energy and excitement to your new life. But before you can run laps around the court you have to take that first step away from drugs and alcohol and towards a solution, and that begins with getting help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White has yet another big drug scandal on his hands. This is the second straight major event for the UFC overshadowed by drug controversy after Jon Jones, MMA’s undisputed pound-for-pound king, tested positive for cocaine prior to his win over Daniel Cormier at UFC 182.
Saturday January 31 both main event fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 183 tested positive for drugs the promotion announced Tuesday. Former middleweight champion Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz were tested prior to their fight, and now officials are shedding light on those results.
Anderson Silva is quite often publicized as the greatest Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter of all-time. This week it was announced Silva had tested positive for the steroid drostanolone during a random drugs test on January 9. A statement made to the media by the UFC this week stated,
“Anderson Silva has been an amazing champion and a true ambassador of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC, in Brazil as well as around the world. UFC is disappointed to learn of these initial results. The UFC has a strict, consistent policy against the use of any illegal and/or performance enhancing drugs, stimulants or masking agents by its athletes.”
The 39-year-old Brazilian MMA fighter had taken more than a year off to heal a broken leg caused in a TKO loss to Chris Weidman. Weidman, now current middleweight champion, had beat out Silva back-to-back for the first time in his career at UFC 162 and UFC 168.
Since then Silva has made a triumphant return to the sport after defeating Nick Diaz by unanimous decision. This is again coming around after the UFC has recently dealt with substance abuse in the sport and expressed their stance on the use of drugs during competition.
Diaz tested positive for marijuana during his a post-fight screening. The UFC stated that a hearing will take place later this month. The UFC has been notified by the Nevada State Athletic Commission about Diaz’s test results, and as a result Diaz has been informed that he has violated the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy and Promotional Agreement with Zuffa, LLC.
The UFC organization will fully respect the Commission’s final decision relating to Diaz at a disciplinary hearing set for February 17. At this point it has been reported that Silva and Diaz’s camps both declined to comment. The UFC has not commented on Diaz’s test results, but this is not the first time he has seen some heat from the commission for his marijuana use.
- In 2007 he tested positive in the state while working for Pride Fighting Championships
- In 2012, the Nevada commission banned Diaz forone year and forced him to relinquish 30% of his earnings after a positive marijuana test
Now Diaz is probably not too surprised about this result, as he is a longtime advocate for medicinal marijuana. However despite his own opinions, the drug is banned in Nevada, and even UFC fighters aren’t above the law.
Prior to Diaz’s UFC 158 fight against with Georges St-Pierre their was a report that the UFC would consider releasing Diaz from his contract if he tested positive for marijuana again, and with his loss to Silva was his third straight there is a possibility Diaz is already on his way out.
The Low Blow
Drostanolone is an anabolic steroid that is typically used by bodybuilders. It lowers water retention, which cuts weight and allows for a more toned physique by reducing fat. That being said, Silva’s infraction is obviously the more serious offense when weighed against Nick Diaz’s weed problems, because of the nature of the steroid as a drug going against the guidelines of the sport.
Silva’s positive test is also the most interesting and confusing, because it was not ago that Silva himself had called for a lifetime ban on performance-enhancing drug users. Silva himself had said back in October during an interview,
“When the guys test for the steroids, (they should have) no more fights. When you use the steroids, you use them for a long time. When you use the steroids for a long time, you have a problem. It’s a drug and it’s not good for the sport.”
Kevin Iole, sports journalist for Yahoo Sports would later report that Silva failed a second drug test, and posted a statement to Twitter about these results:
“Trying to learn more about this: Silva also tested POSITIVE for 17-methyl-5b-androstane-3,17-diol, an oral steroid. Updating story”
Despite the fact that this is Silva’s first positive drug test, if the Nevada State Athletic Commission further confirm Silva’s out-of-competition results, it is still possible this one result could mean the end of Silva in the Octagon, as some speculate a suspension would inspire Silva to walk away as he nears 40 years old.
The message here is obvious, the heat is being turned up, or needs to be turned up, on the UFC so they take a closer look at their competitors and the possibility of drug use before incidents like this are able to slip under the radar. While the verdict on these fighters’ fates seems to be a mystery at the moment, it should be made clear that drug testing athletes is a priority that will not be evaded, even by the greatest fighters in the ring.
Drug use for both athletes and average citizens is nothing to take lightly. The dangers are relevant no matter whom you are, and it’s important for those who are addicts to understand that no drug is safer than the other. But no matter what the drug is, it is possible to roll with the punches and still get a victory. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
The gifts of sobriety are incredible. All people are born with potential to find something they truly love to do and pursue that with passion. The genuine love for the things we do and the emotional connection to achieving new goals, or simply being present in the moments of our favorite routines, is something that is freeing and fulfilling to each of us. When abusing drugs or drinking begins to be more important to us than anything else, we lose our passion for the things we love to do because it is redirected to our addictions.
I took the time to speak with a few people I know in recovery about the things they are passionate about and how they have found new passion for these things in sobriety.
Passion For Custom Creativity
Recently I spoke with a young woman, who creates custom pieces for clients seeking quality decorative work,
“Having done artwork mainly for business purposes, sitting alone to paint was often difficult- isolation is NEVER a good friend of mine. When first getting sober, I could paint about an hour before depression or angst would set in. Then I would have to pick up the phone, go to a meeting, and get active in my recovery. As the ‘promises’ of recovery continue to show up in my life, artwork is becoming more art and less work. As I discovered a God of my understanding, I became grateful for the gifts I am given. I am able to sit and paint because, if I am spiritually healthy, I am NEVER alone.”
For The Love of The Game
I also spoke with Nick, a very close friend of mine who has recently hit new heights in his passions.
“I have played baseball all my life and it has always been my passion in life, what I was born to do is be on the field on that mound. As my addiction grew stronger and progressed more and more baseball took a backseat to my drugs and alcohol as did everything else. I thought my career was over to be honest and though I’d never set foot on a field again. I had given up hope”
“Getting sober has given me so many gifts and opportunities; baseball is just one of them. If I wasn’t sober I wouldn’t have the drive or means to get into shape to play, or have the mental focus to do what is needed of me on the field- but when I step on that field or up to that plate a million things could be going wrong, I could be so stressed out and fearful, but for those 3 hours I’m at peace. Ease and comfort like nothing else“
“My daily reprieve huh, I would love to give you a 12 step cookie cutter answer and say that it is God and the fellowship and all that program stuff. That is a part of it, but there’s just something special that happens to me when I’m in baseball mode. It’s what I love to do and I found it again in sobriety, I walked on, tried out, and now have a chance to play professional baseball. I wouldn’t have that opportunity if I wasn’t sober and I’m so grateful for that. And for the people who I love that have supported me the whole way,”
Guitar and Tattoo Guru
Lastly I spoke with a friend who had a big influence on me as an artist at local tattoo studio who is an active member of the recovery community as well as a musician. I had a few one on one sessions with him to get some tattoo work done, and he shared with me some experience. I reached out to him for a few words.
“For me it was a big fear in early recovery that my creativity and my life would not be the same if I was sober. I thought I would have a boring life without drugs and alcohol. In active addiction I was not able to critically think, and I was unable let go of the fear of making a mistake. The best thing I learned is that if I get out of my way and let my higher power work in my life in all these things I did not need to critically think, I get this peace when that fear is removed, and I get to experience an expression of God,”
“What I have come to find is that I wasn’t doing much of writing, painting, or music when I wasn’t sober. But in sobriety I got prayer and meditation, and through that I was able to enrich those things in my life, and that enabled me to let go of a lot of the fear and false beliefs. The belief that I needed some kind of substance to be creative was a lie.”
“In the beginning of my sobriety all I needed was some kind of faith, and through sobriety that faith matured and I gained discipline in spiritual practices that I was able to apply to my creative practices. I read a book that opened my eyes to that idea that I am able to do these things to be closer to God, and it talks about how spirituality plays into art, music, and our passions.”
These amazing individuals make several very strong points! They are all just a few examples of how addicts and alcoholics are such talented and passionate people, and how once we have found ourselves willing to work on changing our lives, our lives take on new meaning through the things we love the most. Writing is something I was always passionate about, and in active addiction my writing was lacking in emotion or meaning, if I was even writing at all. Now the writing I am blessed enough to do every day gives me freedom, happiness and feels full of purpose, because I get to write with passion!
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135