April 16, 2020

At a time when many people are struggling to mentally cope with COVID-19 and turning to substances to get by, the NFL Alumni Association (NFLA) has partnered with American Addiction Centers (AAC) to provide a lifeline to former players and their families. Effective immediately, NFL alumni, their spouses and children will be eligible to receive a scholarship for treatment at AAC’s Desert Hope Treatment Center in Las Vegas. Desert Hope’s CEO, Derek Price, is a former Detroit Lions tight end and understands the challenges facing former professional athletes.

For more about the partnership, visit https://deserthopetreatment.com/nfl-alumni-and-families/

“As a former NFL player, I’ve watched fellow athletes struggle with substance use, and to now be in a position to help them means the world to me,” said Price. “At Desert Hope, we’ve seen an extraordinary number of people seeking help for the first time or relapsing because of the stress, anxiety and isolation caused by COVID-19. We want these former athletes to know whatever they are facing right now, they are not alone and they have a place to turn.”

Studies have shown that professional athletes are at risk for drug and/or alcohol addiction. One study conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research found the rate of heavy drinking and binge drinking among NFL retirees was slightly higher than the general population. Nearly 14% of young retirees admitted to binge drinking and nearly 5% of them had received treatment for alcohol addiction. Another study, “Injury, pain, and prescription opioid use among former National Football League (NFL) players,” reported that over half (52%) used opioids during their NFL career with 71% reporting misuse. Additionally, 15% of former NFL players who misused opioids continue to misuse them.

“This is an extraordinary offer from Desert Hope,” said NFLA CEO Beasley Reece. “Many NFL players learn to self-medicate early on in their careers, and unfortunately, this can lead to addiction. The NFL Alumni is fortunate to have one of its own in a position of great responsibility. Derek Price is helping teammates battle substance abuse. During these difficult times, NFL players have a trusted place to turn to, knowing their dignity and privacy is safe. It takes a team to provide successful treatment. Addiction is an isolating disease, but we are asking our guys to reach out for support. Thanks to American Addiction Centers’ Desert Hope, you don’t have to do this alone.”

Through this partnership, former players and their families will have access to a range of services at Desert Hope, including medical detox, residential treatment and outpatient telehealth options. The addiction treatment provider also offers many high-end amenities, from gourmet meals by a world-class chef to an indoor fitness center and hotel-style accommodations.

“Our patients can trust they will receive high-quality care in a discreet and welcoming environment,” said Price. “Our top priority is helping them achieve long-term sobriety, so they can get back in the game of life.”