Now Elite NFL Players, They First Tackled Addiction | News Roundup

All Sober compiles the best of the latest headlines. Here's your addiction and recovery news for the week of Feb. 12, 2024!

February 2, 2024
NFL players celebrate after a touchdown

Alcoholism, Ayahuasca and the Enlightenment of an NFL Player | The Athletic

“In the spring of 2020, NFL team facilities were closed because of COVID-19, so Buffalo Bills defenders met in Washington, D.C., for a few days to train, study and bond. The first evening, cornerback Josh Norman welcomed the players to his home, and out came the shots of tequila. When Jordan Poyer was handed a shot, he looked at it and then at his teammates.”

“He put it down. Norman and the others, who had never seen him turn down a drink, were taken aback.”

Bills safety Jordan Poyer has a number of high accomplishments to his name. One is a long and successful playing career in the league. Another is overcoming alcohol addiction, after which he’s had an even more successful playing career: Poyer was named one of the NFL Top 100 Players of 2023 and helped carry his team to the playoffs this year.

His story is less uncommon than one might think among active players at the highest level. Maxx Crosby, the Las Vegas Raiders defensive end, wore a triangle-patterned facemask in a nod to his sober journey and Alcoholics Anonymous; the Pro Bowler is in the running to be named Defensive Player of the Year this week. New York Giants tight end Darren Waller survived an overdose and started a foundation to provide grants to young people seeking addiction treatment.

Even the league itself is getting more sober, as a number of stadiums have opened alcohol-free sections in the past year. Here’s what’s new with sober stars of the sport. Plus, read our in-depth coverage of sobriety and gridiron excellence!

Photo: All-Pro Reels / CC BY-SA 2.0


‘I Can’t Believe It Works’: How Horses Are Helping People Stay Sober | i News

“Therapist Mike Delaney has worked in mental health services for 47 years and said equine therapy has become an increasingly useful tool. Delaney admits he was skeptical of its benefits. ‘I was against it at the beginning, I was saying, “What’s this shit about horses?”‘ Delaney said. ‘I was so into the clinical world that I was used to. But the first time I watched the demonstration, I was watching from the other side of the fence and I started crying.'”


Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong on Managing Addiction, Mental Health: ‘There’s No Shame’ | People

“‘For me, alcohol gets in the way of everything, from my relationship with my family to just trying to get a good night’s sleep. It gets in the way of my happiness,’ Billie Joe Armstrong says. ‘So that’s why, really, I wanted to quit, and I was done. So with the friends that I have, I’m still able to go out and go listen to some music, see some band or go to a party — and it’s still a fun, sexy kind of evening, even though there’s no alcohol.'”


Can San Francisco Solve Its Drug Crisis? Five Things to Consider | The New York Times

“Those who support at least partial decriminalization often cite the experience of Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs more than two decades ago and then saw a decline in drug-related problems. In 2019, the San Francisco district attorney at the time, George Gascón, even visited Portugal to learn more. … The comparison with Portugal is not perfect. For one, fentanyl has not taken over Portuguese drug markets, and has a relatively small presence in Europe as a whole. Still, the comparison gives a way to think about the challenges that San Francisco and other cities have faced.


In Case You Missed It: Week of Feb. 5

Muppets From Sesame Workshop Help Explain Opioid Addiction to Young Children | NPR

“A few years ago, Sesame Workshop, the umbrella organization for the show Sesame Street, began developing some of the first materials specifically created for children aged 1 to 6 whose parents may use drugs or be in recovery. … Karli, a Muppet whose mother is going through treatment for addiction, personifies some of the challenges kids face. In one video, Elmo asks his father why his friend Karli’s mom is sick. His father explains some of the basics of recovery: ‘Addiction makes people feel like they need a grown-up drink like alcohol, or another kind of drug, to feel OK. That can make a person act strange in ways they can’t control.'”

“For the child, those simple messages — being allowed to have your feelings, it’s not your fault — I think are really important,” said Ruth Paris, a professor of social work. Unfortunately, there are relatively few resources for teaching young children about parental addiction. But Sesame Workshop recently received a grant from the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts to make videos and other materials to help address that. “Sesame Street” has often been willing to take on difficult subjects in an age-appropriate manner; the show introduced Karli in 2019.

Now, other authors, producers and creative types are starting to tackle parental addiction as well, making kid-friendly media that help children understand a confusing and often traumatizing experience. Some are first-time authors inspired by addiction in their own lives — and by witnessing the power of recovery.

Photo credit: Sesame Workshop


Once Homeless and Addicted, a Mayor Takes On Housing and Drug Crises | The New York Times

“Homeless and addicted to drugs from his teenage years until he was 31, and essentially illiterate because of severe dyslexia, he was fired from more jobs than he could remember, Dan Carter, the mayor of Oshawa, Ontario, said.”

“Written with colored markers on a whiteboard in the meeting room next to Mr. Carter’s office in city hall are the issues facing Oshawa. … ‘It’s going to be expensive, it’s going to be labor intensive, but that’s what it’s going to take,’ said Mr. Carter, 63, during a stroll around city hall. He gestured toward a nearby park where several homeless people congregate in the cold: ‘Or,’ he said, ‘we can just keep doing this.'”


Why Charlie Sheen Finally Stopped Drinking | People

“‘Next month I’ll be six years sober,’ says Charlie Sheen. ‘I have a very consistent lifestyle now. It’s all about single dad stuff, and raising my 14-year-old twin boys Max and Bob. … I think the first month [of sobriety], I was like, I’m going to give it a month, just see if I feel any better, and if my interactions with those that are closest to me improve. And they did. And I’m like, all right, I’m going to go another month. And then it got traction. I had momentum.'”


Opinion: It’s Time for Gen Z To Lose the Sobriety Stigma | The Washington Post

“Like many teetotaling recent grads, I used to come up with colorful excuses as to why I didn’t want to partake in drinking. Last year, I took my little brother to a tailgate, and when I was asked repeatedly by friends and former professors why I wasn’t drinking, I first laughed and said I was ‘trying to set a good example’ for the 11-year-old in tow. Met with eyerolls and more questions, I gave a new excuse: I couldn’t, because I had to drive home soon. But eventually, I just told the truth: I just didn’t want to drink. And that should be enough.”


Cannabis Addiction Might Be in Your Genes, New Study Finds | Men’s Journal

“Some of the same regions where the [genes] were found are also associated with other health conditions such as lung cancer and schizophrenia. … ‘This is the largest genome-wide study of cannabis use disorder ever conducted,’ study coauthor Joel Gelertner said. ‘As more states legalize or decriminalize the use of marijuana, such studies can help us to understand the public health risks that accompany its increased use.'”


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