Since getting clean three years ago, Rex Chapman has been upfront and honest about his addiction to prescription painkillers, which led to his 2014 arrest for retail theft. Today, Rex penned an emotional plea in Sports Illustrated to state and federal lawmakers to tighten regulations on painkillers to end the opioid epidemic that continues to cripple the state of Kentucky and other parts of the nation. In hopes of raising awareness, Rex shared his story, revealing that after his playing career ended, he became addicted to Vicodin, OxyContin, and Suboxone:
I am one of the lucky ones: I had the financial resources and support of family and friends that enabled to me to enter rehab three times. My last stint was in the fall of 2014, and I have now been clean for three years. That is amazing to me. There were many times I didn’t think I could go without opioids for three hours, much less three years.
Though I was fortunate enough to get a grip on my addiction, I realize that millions of Americans are suffering. That’s why I am working to bring awareness and to influence policy makers to address this plague. My home state of Kentucky has been especially hard hit. In 2015, more than 1,300 Kentuckians died after drug overdoses, many with opioids in their system. That’s about four per day. That same year, more than 353 million doses of opioid painkillers were dispensed in Kentucky–enough to provide every man, woman and child in the state with 79 pills. Like me, many of these people were first introduced to opioids by a doctor. This is the crux of the problem. The U.S. makes up 4.6% of the world’s population, but we consume 99% of the world’s hydrocodone. How can that be? Are we in more pain than the rest of the world?
Honest, thoughtful stuff here from Rex. To read more, click the link below.