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Craig Ehlo Talks Prescription Drug Addiction

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Craig Ehlo was a Pro NBA player for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 1986 – 1993. If you’re a hoops fan, you probably recognize his name for the three-seconds where he failed to prevent Chicago Bulls star, Michael Jordan, from scoring the winning shot during the famous 1989 Eastern Conference playoffs.

Despite the now infamous loss, Ehlo’s lowest point would come when he began battling a drug addiction, from which he has been clean since August 1, 2013.

Craig Ehlo: Real Basketball Diaries

When asked whether the pain was greater from drug addiction or from the torment over losing the 1989 playoffs, Craig Ehlo responded, “Addiction was worse… it cut the heart a lot more than the shot ever came close to but I never had dreams about it.”

Craig required multiple surgeries over the course of 2003 through 2007.  These were temporary solutions that included him being handicapped with six-inch rods, three spacers, and a couple plates placed in his back.  He wasn’t able to move and was put on Hydrocone for his intense pain.

Believe it or not, prescription pills can cause chemical dependency.  By 2013, Ehlo claims he was taking over 12 pills a day.  In August 2013, the 53-year-old was arrested for domestic violence felony charges after lighting himself on fire in his driveway after taking drugs.

Chris Herren Encourages Craig Ehlo to Get Help

Craig Ehlo is grateful for Chris Herren, who is known for playing professional basketball with the Denver Nuggets and Boston Celtics, along with playing for countries like Poland, Italy, Turkey, China, and Iran.  Herren suffered from prescription drug addiction when he was hooked on OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet.  Since getting clean, Herren has been a lead advocate for recovery.

“It’s been amazing,” Craig Ehlo said about meeting Herren. “I knew a little bit about his story…He came to speak at Hoopfest – and what a powerful message. I saw Unguarded on ‘30 for 30,’ but when it’s in live color and Chris is telling it with the passion he tells the story with, it blew me out of the water. And at that point, I had not admitted to myself that I had any kind of an addiction problem, but just hearing that was pretty amazing. And then lo and behold, about two years after that, I ran into some trouble with the addiction.”  Herren ended up contacting Ehlo’s son Austin, who attends Eastern Washington college, and the two got Ehlo into a rehabilitation facility.

Sticking Together

In August 2014, Ehlo stated Herren “was always calling…He was checking on me all the time. Just very influential in every part of my treatment during that time and obviously now in the after care. I’m constantly checking in with him or (he’s) checking in with me. He’s a powerful, powerful man. I can’t believe he was brought into my life right before I really admitted I had any kind of an addiction problem. So it definitely (changed my life).”

Explaining Addiction Himself

Craig recalled what happened when he was addicted to prescription drugs; the people around were telling him he needed to stop.  The doctor discontinued his dosage.  “You don’t understand,” he told the doctor.  “My body is yelling for this.  If I don’t have it, it’s going to hurt and I don’t want to go through that.”  That’s what drove Ehlo to the streets begging for more and fueled his addiction.  “It’s the mind game that it plays with you,” he said about how cunning, baffling, and powerful the disease of addiction is.  “Fortunately, I’ve got friends (who) are very supportive that help me through those days.”

Are you still dealing with an addiction to prescription drugs and feeling stuck?  Contact The Watershed for help now.  You don’t have to go on suffering, so call today.

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