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Fiesta Bowl star Maurice Clarett breaks silence on his struggle with addiction and depression

Fiesta Bowl star Maurice Clarett breaks silence on his struggle with addiction and depression

All major sports seem to be grappling with two major problems – doping among athletes to excel and the “work hard, party harder” culture. Both the scenarios have been encouraging young athletes to dabble with drugs and alcohol.

For a sportsperson, the pressure to perform and impress fans may become too much to handle at times, contributing to the slide towards drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, depression and anxiety disorders. Not to forget, the physical wear and tear that often drives an athlete towards potent drugs.

The rise and fall of Maurice Clarett

In the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, held at the Sun Devil stadium, Maurice Clarett was the quarterback for Ohio state team. He was just 19 years old and in his peak form. His team was playing against the unstoppable Miami Hurricanes and just when it looked like the latter were onto their 35th consecutive win and second straight national championship, Clarett, wearing a No. 13 on a white jersey stripped the ball away before they could touchdown. This resulted in a historic win for his team and catapulted him to stardom.

Looking back, however, his first college game was the beginning of the end. That was when he started to slide downhill. He started losing control of his life and took to drinking, drugs and sex. Coach Tressel’s warnings about his excesses fell on Clarett’s deaf ears. Eventually, he was suspended from the university after his freshman season for taking impermissible benefits and lying to investigators from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). From there, he ended up in prison for more than three years on robbery and gun charges. In 2016, he again ended up on probation for driving under the influence (DUI).

Clarett, now 34, recently admitted that he struggled with substance abuse and was diagnosed with severe anxiety and depression. He acknowledged publicly about drinking excessively and mixing alcohol and prescription drugs such as Tylenol 4s and Percocets but refrained from terming it as a full-fledged addiction. He is currently a motivational speaker at various platforms where he shares his story and reaches out to athletes and sportspersons who might be taking the same path that he had taken to make them realize their problem before it is too late.

Co-occurring disorders can be treated successfully

Substance use disorders (SUD) and mental illnesses are both serious health issues, which often get ignored because of lack of knowledge or the stigma attached to them. The situation becomes even more serious when both the conditions affect a person one after the other – a condition known as co-occurring disorders or dual diagnosis. Normally it is difficult to determine which condition led to the other. But it is important to address both the problems simultaneously for effective and long-term cure.

As per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 8.2 million Americans suffered from dual diagnosis in 2016. Since the symptoms in most cases are overlapping, the best approach to deal with co-occurring disorders is an integrated one that addresses both the conditions at the same time. The treatment varies from patient to patient, but in most of the cases, detoxification, inpatient rehabilitation and self-help strategies are prescribed.

If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of any mental health issue or substance abuse problem, you should immediately seek professional help. Contact the Florida Dual Diagnosis Helpline at (866) 337-7631 or chat online with our representative to know about the finest dual diagnosis treatment centers in Florida. We can help you find the best dual diagnosis rehab centers where such problems are managed through integrated treatment plans.