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Jets Erik Ainge Opens Up About Mental Illness, Drug Abuse


In a recent interview with ESPN.com, New York Jets backup quarterback Erik Ainge discussed his long battle with bipolar disease and numerous drug addictions.

The 24-year-old nephew of former NBA star and current Boston Celtics general manager, Danny Ainge, said that he was going public with his story in hopes of inspiring and bettering the lives of young people who suffer with similar issues. He notes that his sobriety has been ongoing since July 17th, and marks the longest streak he’s had of going without drugs and alcohol since he was 11-years-old.

"I had to get help before I died," Ainge wrote.

Among the intimate details included in his article, Erik pointed out that he had began to abuse marijuana and alcohol before his teenage years. That, in turn, led him to the usage of prescription medication and eventually cocaine and heroin later on.

"I made a lot of poor life decisions," Ainge admitted.

Being completely honest about his past transgressions, the young Jets quarterback revealed that he was addicted to painkillers while serving as the Volunteers’ starting quarterback prior to being drafted by his current team in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft.

“I was on a one-way street to hell basically…” he lamented.

"The reason I decided to speak so openly about this is because I want to bring awareness to mental health and the disease of addiction. Kids and athletes need to know it's OK to ask for help and to talk to somebody about what's going on in their lives. I was afraid to talk before, but through my NA program and God, I'm not afraid to ask for help or talk openly anymore."

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