Star Athelete Turned Heroin Addict Tells Oprah Her Story

By Shawn Dwyer 03/19/14

Last week, Oprah Winfrey interviewed a former high school star athlete whose life was quickly turned upside down after being introduced to opioid painkillers.

Claire before her addiction. Photo via

In a recent episode of “Oprah Prime,” a 20-year-old heroin addict named Claire detailed her struggle with addiction after excelling as a three-sport captain in high school and earning an athletic scholarship to college.

"This was something I never saw coming," Claire said to Winfrey. "I was a good kid. I had achieved everything my parents had hoped for me."

It wasn’t long ago that Claire had her whole life ahead of her. She grew up on the East Coast in an affluent community and was an all-American high school athlete. Claire was a varsity star in three sports, including lacrosse, but deep down she struggled with feelings of inadequacy and unhappiness.

"I was just so unhappy with myself and never felt good enough or satisfied, no matter what," Claire said. "It came from something inside of me that was just not okay."

In order to fill the void, as she described it, Claire began taking painkillers provided to her by her fellow athletes. "I just knew some other athletes who had been prescribed painkillers. They had extra ones lying around," she said. "Before I knew it, just a couple months down the line, I was doing heroin."

Claire’s descent into full-blown heroin addiction only took a short time. "I didn't immediately go to the needle… That progressed over a couple of months," she said. "The first time I put a needle in my arm, I knew there was no going back."

The segment of “Oprah Prime” was part of a large exploration into heroin addiction that featured a high-profile interview with addict-turned-advocate Russell Brand.

Check out a clip from Claire's interview on "Oprah Prime":

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Shawn Dwyer is a writer, editor and content producer living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Linkedin.