Shane Olivea had the world by the tail. He was a successful football player at The Ohio State University and was then drafted by the San Diego Chargers. At the end of his rookie season he was worn down and in pain, and a teammate introduced him to his first opiate, Vicodin.
His addiction was almost immediate, and his downward spiral began. Doctors later claimed he should be dead.
Olivea states that, “there wasn’t one day in the NFL I wasn’t high on a pill after my rookie year.”
At the height of his addiction, he took 125 pills a day. In fact, he would take fifteen at a time with Gatorade or chocolate milk (because taking them with water would make him throw up). He even snorted lines of crushed opiates prior to driving to the stadium to play his games.
Predictably, his work and personal relationships began to suffer, his play declined and his weight ballooned. Family and friends intervened and he ultimately went to The Betty Ford Center for rehabilitation.
Shane took his required drug tests upon entry into the Center. Doctors who had been at the Center for over twenty years were so stunned at his blood test results that they made him repeat the tests. They couldn’t believe he was alive with the levels of opioids that were in his system. He was truly a walking miracle.
Ultimately, his football career ended due to his time out of the league, but a new career awaited him and his sobriety.
First, Shane returned to The Ohio State University, fifteen years later, to complete his degree. He achieved that earlier this year at the age of 35.
Now that Olivea has his degree, he hopes to coach younger people. He feels he has the ability to connect with them. More importantly, he believes that he will be able to spot in others the addictive slide that should have killed him. Opiate abuse among athletes is all too common, and Shane hopes that his experience can help save others from what happened to him. Read Shane’s full story here.