by TRN Staff Writer
Athletes pretty much provoke the same celebrity response as actors and singers. People think their lives are cush and perfect because of all the media attention and the millions they earn for starring in movies, singing or playing ball. But the same money that can make their lives a dream can also turn it into a nightmare.
Golf pro Tiger Woods was among the highest-paid athletes not only on the green but in the world. Golf Digest predicted that Woods would earn a billion dollars from the sport by 2010—and he did, making him the first athlete to earn over a billion in his career according to Forbes Magazine. But as the saying goes, ‘more money, more problems’.
NBC News says a toxicology report from the night Woods was arrested on DUI charges shows he had not one, not two, but as many as FIVE different drugs in his system. The drugs ranged from painkillers to sleeping pills. The report determined that traces of Hydrocodone (an opiod pain medication), another pain killer Hydromorphone, Xanax an anxiety drug, Zolpidem- a sleeping medication (Ambien) and THC–marijuana.
Woods says he was self-medicating with all these drugs to try and treat back pain. Woods said in a statement, “I realize now it was a mistake to do this without medical assistance. I am continuing to work with my doctors, and they feel I’ve made significant progress.” The four-time Masters champ says his chronic back pain forced him to leave the game two years ago. He’s undergone four surgeries for back problems and claims the pain has not disappeared.
His story, and dozens like it, doesn’t even spark surprise from most people these days. Think about all the headlines we’ve seen of celebrity athletes and performers who have similar stories…Lamar Odom, Prince, Michael Jackson, Lil’ Wayne…all admitted or had family or close friends who admitted that these entertainers had pain medication addictions. Broken hips, injured backs, strained and sprained muscles—the spoils of a war to be the best, to entertain when their bodies could no longer bear it. It’s the price they paid for fame. Chasing fame nearly costly Odom his life and did cost Prince and Jackson theirs.
Woods DUI arrest in May could have been his blessing in disguise. Once the news was out about his arrest and rumors started about his possible drug addictions, the pain of secrecy was one less burden for him. Woods entered a diversion program that allows him to plead to a lesser offense. He’ll spend a year on probation, perform community service and must attend a workshop where victims of impaired drivers share how their lives were impacted by people driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Without the diversion program, Woods was facing up to six months in jail on the DUI charge. It was special celebrity treatment—it’s the same program offered to all DUI first time offenders.
He also completed a clinic program to help him deal with his prescription medication problems.
Golf was never my thing, but you don’t have to be a fan of the sport to be aware of Woods’ career and how he changed the game. He’s had his sex addiction issues, his marital affairs scandals and a messy marital break-up. He’s had life issues just like the ordinary and the infamous. But maybe his prescription meds addiction story can be a warning to others. It’s not just physical pain that draw people to prescription pain meds–sometimes it’s depression or anxiety. One medical expert says even loneliness can lead to addiction-he says that’s why so many celebrities end up with addictions because even though we see them surrounded by people and cameras, they’re still lonely.
Even if Woods never gets to swing a golf club again or win another tourney, here’s hoping he can beat this opponent known as addiction.