Brett Favre Opens Up About Rehab Stays, Alcoholism & Addiction

By Kelly Burch 05/23/18

"I was able to control myself for a while. I wouldn’t take anything for a day or two, and I wouldn’t drink. But I was a binge drinker. When I drank, I drank to excess.”

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Brett Favre

Legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre went to rehab three times during the prime of his career for alcoholism and addiction to pain pills, according to a conversation Favre had with Sports Illustrated columnist Peter King. 

In King’s last column for the publication, he details a talk he had with Favre just last weekend. During the conversation, King recalls being impressed by Favre’s energy during the 1995 season. 

“Oh, I remember that week,” Favre said, according to King. “You thought, ‘Man, this guy’s high on life.’ You didn’t know there was a reason for it. It is really amazing, as I think back, how well I played that year. That was an MVP year for me. But that year, when I woke up in the morning, my first thought was, ‘I gotta get more pills.’”

Favre said he would take 14 Vicodin at a time. He was sleeping just two hours a night, but still performing on and off the field. 

“With pills, I could get so much done, I just figured, ‘This is awesome,’” Favre said. His wake-up call came when his wife flushed his pills down the toilet. 

At that time, Favre had already been to rehab once, about a year beforehand. For a while after that he was able to keep his pill use under control, but wasn’t willing to admit he had a bigger problem with substance misuse. 

“When I got out, I was able to control myself for a while. I wouldn’t take anything for a day or two, and I wouldn’t drink. But I was a binge drinker. When I drank, I drank to excess,” he said.

Even after a second stint in rehab, Favre wasn’t willing to give up alcohol. 

“I remember vividly fighting them in there. They said drinking was the gateway drug for me, and they were right, absolutely right, but I wouldn’t admit it. I will never forget one of the nurses. I had it all figured out. I fought with this nurse all the time. I would not admit the drinking problem. At the end she said to me, ‘You’ll be back.’”

In 1998, Favre returned to rehab for the third and final time, to focus exclusively on his alcoholism. 

“I admitted my problem, I was in there 28 days, and it worked,” he said. “When I got out, the toughest thing was the first three months, because I had to change my thought process. When I played golf before, I realized the only reason I wanted to play was to drink. After a while, instead of thinking, ‘How many beers can we drink in 18 holes?’ I fell into a pattern of what could I do to get good at golf. I realized with each passing day I really didn’t like drinking.”

Favre said that all of his experience with rehab taught him that anyone can become addicted. 

“I saw the most successful, smart people—doctors, professional people—lose it all, ruin their lives,” he said. 

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

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