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Embattled Football Star Finally Getting Help

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Justin Blackmon’s battle with substance abuse all but derailed his professional football career. Four drug-related incidents in a three-year span led to an indefinite suspension from the NFL a year ago, and another arrest in July seemed likely to slam the door shut on reinstatement. However, news recently broke that Blackmon is in the midst of completing a voluntary treatment program, and with that comes new hope that he will be able to resurrect not only his career, but his life.

Blackmon Enters Treatment

Earlier this month, The Associated Press reported that suspended Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon voluntarily checked himself into a 90-day program at an undisclosed treatment facility. According to team personnel, Blackmon seemed to be progressing very well. “He’s healing and taking time for himself,” Head Coach Gus Bradley said. “The great thing is he has chosen this for himself. It’s awesome to hear about.” It is not Blackmon’s first attempt to enter rehab, but it is the first time he stuck with it.

History of Substance Abuse

Blackmon’s commitment to getting the help he needs comes as a relief to the Jaguars organization and those close to him who witnessed repeated signs that the young superstar may be struggling with something beyond his control.

He was arrested on a misdemeanor DUI charge in Texas in 2010, which eventually got dropped to underage possession of alcohol. Then, a little more than a month after he was selected with the fifth overall pick in the NFL draft, he was arrested again during a traffic stop in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The breathalyzer revealed his blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

Because of that second arrest, Blackmon entered his rookie season already enrolled in the league’s substance-abuse program, yet denied having any serious problems with substance abuse. Many hoped the threat of losing out on playing the sport he loved and getting paid millions to do it would be enough to deter him from making such poor choices off the field.

With all that at stake, it started becoming clearer that Blackmon really was dealing with something larger than momentary lapses in judgment. He violated the league’s drug policy again that fall and was handed a four-game suspension. Another violation the following season earned Blackmon an indefinite suspension for the remaining eight games of 2013, with the ability to apply for reinstatement in 2014. Jacksonville was hopeful to have him reinstated this fall, but those aspirations disappeared and the storyline shifted in the wake of Blackmon’s arrest for marijuana possession this past July.

A Solid Support System

With a record like that, many would have expected the Jaguars to cut ties with Blackmon and distance themselves from someone with so many off-the-field incidents. Instead, Jacksonville stood by Blackmon, approaching the situation with a refreshing understanding of the full scope of these incidents. They focused their attention not on the actions, but on the reasoning behind them. In their eyes, this was clearly bigger than football. It wasn’t about a troublesome kid acting up outside of the facility because he didn’t know any better. It was about a young man battling an issue that he was incapable of defeating on his own. The entire organization recognized that, from ownership down to the other players in the locker room. They acknowledged that a young man needed help overcoming a serious issue, and vowed to stand by him until he did. It appears that time has finally come.

If you or someone you know is demonstrating signs of potential substance abuse, don’t attempt to sweep them under the rug. Addiction is a daunting disease that can be difficult to overcome, but you don’t have to face it alone. Call The Watershed today at 1-800-861-1768.

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