Sleeping pill addiction is a big problem in football, says Ryan Cresswell | Soccer
Former Football League defender Ryan Cresswell has warned of the danger of players becoming addicted to sleeping pills after the problem nearly claimed his life.
Cresswell, whose clubs included Rotherham, Southend and Northampton, achieved 12 months of sobriety earlier this summer after a second stint at the Sporting Chance rehab clinic and his life is now looking up. He is back in football as manager of Sheffield FC, the oldest club in the world, and looks to his future with optimism.
It was a different story when his addiction started with painkillers to treat a chronic knee problem while he was in Northampton, then came sleeping pills, followed by alcohol and that’s when his world changed. is collapsed. After entering rehab for the first time, there was a relapse and the 34-year-old was headed for a downward spiral. And he thinks it was only an intervention of fate that saved him.
“Painkillers, sleeping pills and drink. I was far from my depth. I can’t believe I did what I did,” he said. “When I first went to rehab I thought I had bottomed out, but I hadn’t even dipped in the pool.
“When I went there the second time, I was clinging to life. It was a matter of life and death. I didn’t want to die. Some people have passing thoughts about not wanting to being here, I was living in these thoughts.
Cresswell knows how easy it can be to get addicted to sleeping pills and he’s pretty sure he’s not the only one in the game affected by it. “I think there is a big problem in football with sleeping pills and I mean from the top, as high as possible,” he said.
“For me it started with one after every game which was great and I think that’s a good reason to use them. But then it went from one after games to one a day to two a day and I knew I was addicted to them. It wasn’t me craving it, it was my body, I knew it was the wrong thing. It’s horrible.
“There will now be 22 or 23 year old guys in the Premier League, Championship everywhere they take too many painkillers. It will not be before three years that they will realize that they have a real problem. The sweats and tremors of the night will come and they will just have to get by.
After two stints in rehab, Cresswell pulled through, but knows he still has work to do. “I didn’t decipher it, I can’t think I deciphered it,” said Cresswell, who still attends regular Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. It’s an achievement that doesn’t need to be acknowledged because it’s the right thing to do. It’s not a feat, it’s something that had to be done.
“If I can talk about what happened to me and it prevents a single current player from going through what I did, that’s enough.”