New York Jets Quarterback Opens Up About His Drug Addiction

Erik Ainge

Photo: Jerome Davis/Icon SMI/ESPN

New York Jets backup quarterback Erik Ainge started using drugs when he was 12. It began with a bong hit, and it escalated from marijuana to prescription meds, alcohol, cocaine and heroin. By his senior year at Tennessee, he was addicted to painkillers, downing them by the handful.This is the story of a professional athlete who lost control. Ainge fell into a self-destructive lifestyle that included multiple overdoses, drunk driving, extended stays in rehab and relapses, leaving his football career in shambles….

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I’m a drug addict. I was in denial for a long time, but that’s who I am. My addiction is with the hardest of hard drugs — heroin, cocaine and alcohol. During my days of using, I was a really bad drug addict. I would’ve made Charlie Sheen look like Miss Daisy.

I always thought of myself as a good kid that liked to have fun. We use the term “rationalization” in therapy. I would rationalize my drug use, and make it seem a lot more normal than it was. But it wasn’t, because I was using a lot of drugs at a young age.

It got worse in high school and even worse in college. By the time I was a senior in college, I was an addict. I played my whole senior season with a broken finger on my throwing hand. It was really badly broken. Just taking the snap, throwing the ball, handing it off, getting tackled — everything that goes along with playing quarterback — it was very painful.

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