During his seven year career with the Miami Dolphins in the '80s tight end Dan Johnson became known as the King of Pain for being able to bounce back from numerous injuries and broken bones, but following two back surgeries he became the King of Pain Pills. Unfortunately, Johnson's addiction isn't that uncommon. Former NFL players are found to misuse pain pills at a rate four times higher than the general public according to a new study commissioned by ESPN and assisted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
"I was taking about 1,000 Vicodins a month," Johnson tells ESPN. "People go, 'That's impossible. That's crazy.' No, it's exactly what I was taking. I mean, believe me, I'd love to be off medications. That's my worry every day, to make sure I have medication."
Johnson even broke down in tears during the interview when he reveals the addiction got so out of control that it almost drove him to suicide.
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The survey questions hundreds of NFL players who had retired between the late '70s and 2006. 52 percent admitted to using pain pill during their playing days, with 71 percent of that group saying they misused the drugs during that time. Fifteen percent of those who misused drugs during their playing days admits to still misusing the drugs this day.