'Addicts are not bad people; they're sick people'

“Addicts are not bad people; they’re sick people.”

That was the message from former NFL offensive lineman Randy Grimes, who spoke in Piatt County schools on Sept. 7 prior to a town hall meeting held in Monticello that evening to discuss substance abuse issues.

Grimes told students he “threw down pain pills” for 20 years to deal with chronic pain issues from the rigors of a nine-year career as a center for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But when he retired at the age of 32, the addiction stayed, requiring rehab stays. He said getting such help, along with a spiritual awakening, helped him recover.

“I want people to understand that getting sober was my greatest accomplishment. That was the hardest thing I ever did, and it’s the most rewarding thing I ever did,” he said.

Grimes also noted that, although categorized as a disease, addiction is not treated that way despite being the top cause of death among those less than 50 years of age.

“If that was any other disease, it would be the lead story on every news channel, every night, all day long, that’s all you would hear. But because it’s addiction, even though it’s the No. 1 killer, you don’t hear anything, and that’s the stigma that’s associated with this disease, and that’s what we’re trying to tear down,” he said.

The former NFL player hopes his story tells people that “there’s hope. There’s help, and I know some of you have people struggling at your home or you know some people who are struggling. There is hope and help.” He encouraged those with issues to talk to someone, whether it be a friend, family member, teacher or coach.

Grimes is now an interventionist who helps professional athletes in baseball, hockey and football.

The town hall meeting, coordinated by Marisa’s Purpose, attracted 55 people who heard speakers that included Grimes and Tim Ryan, a recovering addict who also spoke in local schools earlier that day.

“It was a great success. We had 55 people there and there were really good questions and answers, and concerns expressed. I think everyone left there feeling like they learned something,” said Connie Gyorr, the founder of the organization.

On Saturday morning, 58 people showed up at Lodge Park to run in a 5K that helped raise funds for Marisa’s Purpose.




Categories (3):News, Education, Living


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