Olympic Swimming Champion Enters Rehab For Ambien Addiction

By McCarton Ackerman 02/28/14

Hackett was shipped off to a U.S. rehab following a bizarre incident in a Melbourne casino where he was caught stumbling around half-naked with his four-year-old daughter in tow.

grant hackett.jpg
Hackett in the 1500m freestyle at Beijing. Photo via

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Grant Hackett flew from Australia to the U.S. earlier this week to enter rehab for his addiction to Stilnox, also known as Ambien. Hackett made the decision to enter treatment after a bizarre incident in which he stumbled through a casino foyer in Melbourne, Australia with a singlet over his underwear and his four-year-old daughter, Charlize, under his arm as he searched for his twin son, Jagger. His family held an intervention afterwards and Hackett agreed to go to rehab.

“[He is] taking steps to seek help for a problem he has with Stilnox. His family and friends are enormously proud of his courage in pursuing this course of action,” said his spokesman in a statement. Hackett struggled with an addiction to Stilnox toward the end of his swimming career, as he used the drug to help him sleep while recovering from a shoulder injury. He said he was initially given the drug by swimming officials, but quickly began to abuse them and admitted that “at one point they scared me. They’re evil.”

Fellow swimming champion Michael Phelps also admitted to previously using Stilnox. Side effects from the anti-anxiety drug and sleeping pill include hallucinations, delusions, and other strange behavior. In 2013, the FDA required the makers of Ambien and Zolpimist to half the recommended dosage for women after studies linked it to car accidents from patients being too drowsy and experiencing impairments the morning after taking the drug.

It’s unclear whether Hackett will also seek help for alcohol abuse while in treatment. In 2011, a drunken rampage led to him infamously trashing the apartment he shared with then-wife Candace Alley and eight police cars being called to the scene. His father, Neville, said afterwards that his son was “a dickhead, but I love him.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.