Ex-Southampton Player Claus Lundekvam on How He Beat Alcohol and Drug Addiction

Many people are of the opinion that it is a particular type of individual that becomes affected by drug or alcohol addiction. The main reason for this is because addiction is generally portrayed negatively in the media. Television programmes and movies often show drug addicts as those with ties to criminal gangs or who come from a deprived background. When depicting alcoholics, the image will usually be of someone that drinks as soon as he/she wakes up and who is estranged from their family.

The reality, however, is that addiction can happen to absolutely anyone. It is not an illness that affects one type of person. Even those who often appear to have it all can struggle with drug and alcohol addiction. Take former Southampton footballer Claus Lundekvam as an example.

Descent into Addiction

Claus retired in 2008, after which his drug and alcohol abuse quickly spiralled into addiction. He said that after his wife had left taking their two little girls with her, he made the decision to book a one-way ticket to Brazil where he would drink himself to death. He added, “That was my destiny. At least that is how it felt. I was so low; I just accepted it. I booked a one-way ticket to Rio and had no intentions of coming back. I thought that was it, my final journey. I knew that in Rio I would find the things I wanted, a free flow of cocaine and lots of gorgeous women. That would have been fine by me. It wouldn’t have taken long. Luckily, I never made it. I would not have returned.”

Overcoming Addiction

Claus said that he knew he was drinking himself to death but that he did not care. He said, “I was so down and so depressed. I felt I could not cope without football. I missed the buzz and the adrenaline rush, so I sought highs in other ways. I had had that rush of being competitive ever since I was a kid, so when it was gone, I made a few wrong choices and got addicted to alcohol and cocaine. It was very self-destructive.”

He added that leaving the game and losing the camaraderie of being with the other players is very hard, and he admitted that for him it was a disaster. He said, “I turned to drink and drugs, which was not good for me, but eventually I got the help I needed. It is still something I deal with day to day.”

Thankfully, he overcame his addiction and is now working as a pundit in his native Norway.

Asking for Help

Claus admits that asking for help was very hard, saying, “It was hard for me to admit I needed help and to admit that I was struggling without football. I had always been strong, and I was not used to showing my feelings or being able to cry. That was my life for 25 years. I had been captain of Southampton and of Norway; I was supposed to be strong.”

However, he pointed out that he now understands the only way to get help for addiction is to actually acknowledge the problem exists and to ‘just hold your hands up’. He says that with his judgement clouded by drugs and alcohol, it was harder to accept that he had a problem. Unfortunately, this is a common problem for many people suffering addiction.

Actually admitting that the problem exists in the first place can be the hardest part of recovery. However, once this is done, the affected individual can begin the process of detoxification and rehabilitation and can start to move forwards towards a healthy sober life.

Source: Ex-Southampton Premier League ace Claus Lundekvam reveals how he planned to ‘drink himself to death‘ (Mirror.co.uk)