Australian swimmer and gold medal winner Grant Hackett recently flew to the United States to seek treatment for his addiction to the prescription drug Stilnox. The champion athlete made the decision to seek treatment after being confronted by his family for his abuse of the drug. The news of Hackett’s decision to enter treatment and subsequent family intervention comes on the heels of a public incident wherein Hackett was filmed in a hotel lobby in Australia while barely clothed. Hackett’s family has publicly expressed their support for Hackett and their relief that the swimmer has chosen to enter treatment.
Not Hackett’s First Bout With Stilnox
Hackett has publicly battled the drug before, perhaps most famously toward the end of his swimming career. In 2012, the gold medal winning Olympian was vocal about what he deemed a heavy reliance on Stilnox. It is very common for individuals who struggle with addiction to face periods of what seem like success in battling addiction, and even to abstain from using completely, only to relapse. This process, of becoming sober and relapsing, can be very emotionally exhausting for an addict and can make the process of getting sober increasingly more challenging, as they struggle to remain confident that they can and will stay clean. The reality is, however, that relapse is a very common occurrence among addicts, and just because one attempt to stop using is unsuccessful, does not mean that an addict will be unable to find peace and health in recovery.
Stilnox Commonly Used Among Olympic Swimmers
Hackett is not the only swimmer to use the drug. In fact, the use of Stilnox and similar drugs is reportedly fairly common among elite swimmers, possibly because of the drug’s sedative effects, which can help calm nerves associated with competition. In fact, Hackett’s first introduction to the drug came when his swimming coach offered it to him, and American contemporary Michael Phelps has admitted to using the drug. Many athletes reportedly favor Stilnox in particular because of the fact that for many users, it has no residual effects.
The Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse
Stilnox is a drug that is generally intended for insomnia, and may be prescribed in the same way that other insomnia drugs, such as Lunesta are. In some cases, Stilnox may also be used to treat anxiety. It is highly addictive and causes a number of side effects, which can be both dangerous and terrifying for the person experiencing them. The side effects of this drug include hallucinations, visions, diminished ability to make decisions, and blacking out. Like many other prescription drugs, Stilnox is very dangerous not only because of the physiological damage and possible drug interactions that can occur with its abuse. The behaviors that a person abusing Stilnox engages in may put them in questionable positions that pose a real threat to their safety.
Hope for the Troubled Athlete
Though Hackett may certainly be undergoing a difficult phase in his life right now, he has plenty of resources available to him that suggest he will be able to recover and return to his drug free self if he is committed to making the most of treatment. He has a strong support system around him in the form of his family. In treatment, he will likely also begin to explore the triggers that are leading him to use, which will help him work to find ways in which he can deal with them without the use of prescription drugs. For Hackett, as has been the case for so many individuals struggling with the disease of addiction, treatment may be a life changing and even life saving experience.
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Cindy Nichols is the founder of 411 Intervention, a full-service intervention resource that helps individuals with addiction issues find treatment solutions. You can see an interview with Cindy here on Recovery Now TV.