Former NRL star Matt Cooper has revealed he’s been fighting a battle against an addiction to painkillers since retiring from St George Illawarra in 2011.
Cooper, who played 243 matches for the Dragons in addition to representing NSW and Australia, checked into a private hospital last month to beat a year-long struggle with Endone.
The 37-year-old told News Corp he feared he would die in his sleep and broke down sobbing while holding his daughter’s hand as he came to grips with his problem.
“It was a cocktail of prescription meds, painkillers,” said Cooper.
“I was like, ‘I’m taking too many pills here.’ There were times there I was like, ‘I’m not going to wake up.’
“I Googled how people die from this drug and they just stop breathing. That is when I realised I had to tell my wife. You can only hold a secret for so long and I was just getting tired.
“The night before I went in, I was sitting on the floor of my daughter’s bedroom holding her hand for an hour just crying because I thought tonight is the night I am not going to wake up.”
Cooper’s addiction to painkillers started about a year ago after helping his father-in-law work with a jackhammer, triggering an old neck injury.
“Surgery was going to be too risky of being paralysed. I’ve seen some guys get operations where they come out and they can’t even move their arm and it was a simple operation,” he said.
“For 10 months I didn’t do any training because I couldn’t as my neck was too sore. I was sitting watching TV and pretty much not doing too much because I was in too much pain.
“It was a downward spiral from there.
“My doctor said I am lucky to be alive because of how much I was taking. You start with it and then your body gets used to it so you need to double it and it gets used to it again and you double that.
:I got to the point where it wasn’t working. My doctor was blown away.”