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Tag: addiction

MMA’s Catch-22 Drug Trap: Why So Many Fighters Fall Into Addiction

(MMA competition can provide the stability necessary for a person to beat addiction. It can also create the physical and emotional chaos that leads to drugs in the first place.)

By Santino DeFranco

For months I’ve wanted to get started on an article discussing drug use among MMA athletes, but just haven’t gotten my fingers to the keyboard. For some reason, after seeing Dennis Siver’s positive test for HCG recently — probably the least worrisome drug I’ve ever seen someone test positive for — I’ve decided to get going with it.

In addition to the positive tests for performance enhancing substances that we’ve seen dozens of times in this sport, there has been an alarming number of positive drug tests for recreational and prescription drugs as well. We’ve also seen countless fighters wage personal battles with substance abuse outside of the ring/cage, with several ending in death — accidental as well as suicide. It’s the recreational drugs and prescription painkillers that have caught my attention as something that may need to be addressed.

After seeing so many fighters struggle with drug abuse over the years like Joe Riggs, Drew Fickett, Karo Parisyan, along with those that have passed away from drug-related circumstances like Shane Del Rosario and Shelby Walker, I started to wonder: Is MMA leading athletes to become addicted to drugs, or are people who are more prone to drug use entering the world of mixed martial arts?

What I found out is that the answer to both previous questions is yes. Those more prone to use drugs do enter MMA, and MMA in return, leads those to use drugs and subsequently become addicted to them. It’s a hell of a lot more complex than that, but simply put, MMA fighters, as well as boxers, are kind of screwed.


Oscar De La Hoya Back in Rehab, Won’t Attend Mayweather vs. Canelo Fight

(ODLH with Alvarez at a media workout in April. / Photo via Getty)

Two years after going public about his longtime struggle with alcohol and cocaine, legendary boxer and promoter Oscar De La Hoya has re-entered treatment for substance abuse. As a result, he will not be in Las Vegas this Saturday to support Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the Golden Boy Promotions star who faces Floyd Mayweather in a light-middleweight title fight at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. As De La Hoya said in a statement released today:

Canelo Alvarez and I have big fights coming up this weekend. His is the ring and mine in treatment.

I will not be at the fight to cheer Canelo to victory since I have voluntarily admitted myself into a treatment facility.

I explained this to Canelo and he understood that my health and longterm recovery from my disease must come first.

Thank you for your understanding. I ask for your support and privacy during this difficult time for me and my family.”

De La Hoya said he considered suicide at his lowest point before his previous rehab stint, and described his ongoing quest for sobriety as “the toughest fight of my life.” We wish De La Hoya the best of luck in his recovery.


Proudly Presenting: UFC Veteran Drew Fickett Talks His First Year of Sobriety

(Image via Drew Fickett’s Facebook page.)

Via Sobriety Fighter 

For those uninitiated, Sobriety Fighter is my own side-project. I’ve dedicated 2013 to being a year-long experiment where I spend one year as a full-time fighter while also attempting to stay clean and sober. I can’t promise that I’ll be the next Elias Cepeda or that I’ll never relapse, but I can promise that I’ll do my absolute best for everyone. Most of the stuff I post isn’t particularly MMA-related, but this is. Enjoy. - [SethFalvo

(SF) How do you feel that the lifestyle of a professional fighter has enabled your addiction? 

(DF) I started fighting during the first broadcast of the Ultimate Fighter and remember seeing Chris Leben getting drunk and being stupid and then going in and training balls the next day hung over. I glorified that. Being able to fight hard and party hard. Train hard even when drunk and hung over appealed to my vikingesque nature. Pretty soon I developed a name in the sport for being a bad ass drunk who could fight.

I could fight and drink and even though it was very taxing I could pull it off and loved the type of image it gave me. I thought it was so cool. I used to associate airports and flying with drinking and pretty soon I couldn’t fly if I wasn’t tore up from the floor up. I don’t even understand how I would manage to make it from Point A to Point B, but I remember many flights missing my plane and ending up back at the airport pub for another Guinness or shot of Jack.  I can really relate to Josh Hamilton’s story because of our obvious similarities.


‘UFC on FX 3′ Video Hype: Ian McCall Has Been Through Some Harsh Times

(Props: fueltv)

…and I’m not talking about that lame-ass Christian Bale movie. Ian McCall‘s greatest victory has come against a drug addiction that previously resulted in arrests, motorcycle accidents, and a near-death experience during a fateful tattooing session. Now, he has more to fight for than a UFC flyweight title shot. “I’ve now become a husband and a father,” he says. “That stuff has just added to the fire where now I can’t screw up.” And so, we have one more reason to be sort-of interested in tonight’s UFC on FX 3 card. Any of y’all plan on watching?

After the jump: Ariel Helwani interviews McCall and Demetrious Johnson following yesterday’s weigh-ins. To be honest, the most interesting part of the video is Ariel’s jacket. Lookin’ slick, my dude.


Chris Leben Calls His UFC 138 Painkiller Bust a ‘Cry for Help,’ Hopes for a Late 2012 Return

(Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)

Following career setbacks due to alcohol and steroids, a one-year suspension due to unapproved painkillers was the last thing that Chris Leben needed in his life. But in a recent appearance on’s The MMA Hour, Leben spoke publicly for the first time since the incident last November, saying that getting caught following his loss to Mark Munoz at UFC 138 was the best thing to ever happen to him:

I’ve battled drugs and alcohol. I’ve battled with those for my entire life. I’ve had an issue with being addicted to painkillers for years now. I had some issues with my camp and it was almost a cry for help. I knew I was going to get caught and I just didn’t care at the time. I’m extremely embarrassed, I feel like I let down the UFC, but at the same time I think getting caught is probably the best thing to ever happen to me. The UFC has been unbelievable, they sent me to a rehab facility and they really took care of me.”

As Leben tells it, he had hoped to go cold-turkey off the painkillers before the fight, but his addiction was too powerful:


Must See: ESPN Profiles Scott Hall’s Decline From ‘Razor Ramon’ Stardom to Addiction

(“I don’t want to die. But I’m not afraid to. Because what’s left, man? What do you do when they quit chanting your name?” Props: ESPN via willvojtisek)

As the WWF’s “Razor Ramon” in the early 1990s, Scott Hall was one of pro-wrestling‘s biggest stars — a Scarface-inspired bad guy known for his ever-present toothpick, gold chains, and hilarious promos. But in recent years, he’s become better known for his personal deterioration, which culminated in an utterly tragic headlining appearance at a Massachusetts wrestling show in April, two days after having a seizure. Though comparisons to Mickey Rourke’s character in The Wrestler are easy to make, the real-life story of Scott Hall is much darker.

Last night, ESPN’s E:60 profiled Scott Hall’s path from wrestling mega-success to his subsequent battles with addiction and his questionable decision to mentor his son Cody to follow in his footsteps. We don’t go near pro-wrestling very often on this site, but I thought this was heart-wrenching stuff, and worth sharing.

Let’s remember Scott in happier times. After the jump: Razor Ramon’s five greatest WWF video vignettes…


According to Friend and Pseudo-Manager, Paulo Filho Still Dangerously Addicted to Roofies

(Video courtesy of YouTube/Cyberplex)

Last week Porto do Vale Tudo published an interview with Paulo Filho in which the troubled former WEC middleweight champion denied reports that he was dangerously addicted to Rohypnol again and in hopeless financial debt. According to Filho, his friend Rodrigo Riscada, whom he lived with for the better part of the last five months and who was acting as his manager, has yet to pay him the money he received for his last two bouts and is spreading lies about his addiction and financial woes, which Paulo says are simply untrue.

Riscada responded to the interview this week and revealed that Filho’s issues are serious and if left untreated could lead to his untimely death.

According to Riscada, Filho is taking upwards of 60 roofies per day and on top of the potentially lethal dosage of GHB, he is injecting four vials of the veterinary steroid potenai daily as well.

(Riscada and Filho before their falling out.)

Although Filho says he’s clean, Riscada paints a different picture of sleeping on the floor beside Paulo’s bed and hiding his stash from the embattled fighter to make sure he wasn’t sneaking off to use drugs.


Oscar De La Hoya Admits to Alcohol and Cocaine Abuse, Suicidal Thoughts, and Infidelity [VIDEO]

(Props: UnivisionNews1)

Usually we only bring up boxing when it involves Floyd Mayweather Jr. getting arrested or sued or talking shit about MMA. But we wanted to pass along Oscar De La Hoya‘s bombshell new interview with Univision, in which the boxing legend discusses the personal demons that have haunted him over the past few years. After entering treatment at the Betty Ford Center in May, De La Hoya is now three months’ sober, and in the process of rebuilding his life. Some highlights from the interview:

On his lowest point: ”Rock bottom was recently, within a couple of years. Just thinking, ‘Is my life was even worth it?’ I don’t have the strength, I don’t have the courage to take my own life, but I was thinking about it.”

On substance abuse: ”There were drugs. My drug of choice was cocaine and alcohol. Cocaine was recent, in the last two years, last two-and-a-half years. And I depended more on the alcohol than the cocaine. It took me to a place where I felt safe. It took me to a place where I felt like if nobody can say anything to me. It took me to a place where I can reach out and just grab my mom, who passed away when I was younger. I was dependent on those drugs.”


Karo Parisyan is Not Looking to Rewrite His History, But is Determined to Make His Recent Headlines Into Footnotes

(Parisyan says although his demons are behind him, they’ll always be chasing him. PicProps: Sherdog)

Karo Parisyan is ready to turn the page.

With the last chapter of his life and his career behind him, the 28-year-old who overcame a highly publicized battle with painkiller abuse and anxiety is hoping that the headlines about his personal and professional struggles the past three years will eventually become footnotes in his life story rather than the main subject.

“When I put my life story out about all of the sh*t I’ve been through and everything that’s happened to me, even my parents will be like, ‘Oh my God,’ when they read it. They don’t even know the half of it.”

Page one of the new chapter of Parisyan’s story starts Thursday night in London, Ontario when he squares off with highly regarded Canadian welterweight Ryan Ford at MMA Live 1 and he says the main difference this time around is that he’s writing the story for himself and not for others like he’s been doing his whole life.

“I’ve been through hell and I’m still on the way back home. I hope people can understand and not judge me for the mistakes I made. I’m doing this for myself. I’m tired of worrying about this person or that person. My family always has my back, but I need to look after myself. I want to get out there and do this for me so I can feel good about myself again. I used to think a lot about what everybody thought about me and now I don’t care. I’ve been training since I was eight years old and competing as long as I can remember and I got burnt out,” Parisyan recalls. “I let the pressure get to me. I had the pressure of representing my friends, my family, Armenians, judo etc…etc. What I realize now is that except your age, what goes up must come down, so you need to not let every little thing get to you because that’s when the pressure will eat at you until you break.”


Is “Razor” Rob McCullough a Sex Addict?

(McCullough with squeeze Lexxi Tyler, via MySpace.  You might remember her from a couple blue movies she’s been in, such as "Boobs of Hazzard," "Muff Bumpers 5," and "Rack Em."  All actual titles.)

According to MMA Weekly’s Insider Blog, the WEC’s Rob McCullough is going to be out of action for a while, as he’s going on the next season of VH1’s “Celebrity Rehab” to get his sex addiction looked at.  How ’bout that?

Apparently McCullough had surgery on the hand that he broke in his snoozer of a bout with Marcus Hicks at WEC 39, and since he has to take some time off anyway he might as well see if he can achieve his two lifelong goals of being on a reality show and putting an end to his compulsive fornicating all at once.  That’s called making efficient use of your time.

Depending on the source, this may just be part of the third season of the popular “Celebrity Rehab” show that seeks to exploit the substance abuse problems of kind of famous people for ratings, or it may be a spin-off of that show devoted entirely to sex addiction, which would be the perfect place for McCullough to meet chicks now that he and porn star Lexxi Tyler are reportedly no longer dating. (Edit: okay, so they’re still dating, and possibly engaged. Who can tell with porn stars?  I mean, when you think about it?) 

Now begins the great debate as to which MMA fighter made out better in the porn actress dating pool: Rob McCullough or Tito Ortiz?  McCullough managed not to get his porn star girlfriend pregnant (we hope), while Ortiz landed one who was more, um…I guess the word I’m looking for here is “prolific.”  Some comparison photos are after the jump to better aid the discourse.