Study: 22 million Americans struggle with addiction

Irsay is latest example of impact of addiction

INDIANAPOLIS - Colts owner Jim Irsay is in a treatment facility after his Sunday night arrest, and experts say he has become the latest example of how addiction can affect anyone.

Irsay has been open about his struggles with prescription drug addiction in the past.

"I don't care how tough you are, this disease is 5 trillion and 0. Technical knockout every time," Irsay said during a 2012 interview with ESPN.

He said his dependence on prescription drugs started after a back injury. That is what happened to Jeff Feilen who went through a five-year addiction to prescribed pain medications. It all came to an end when he overdosed.

"Through the whole process, I ended up in divorce, lost a business and ended up bankrupt. It just took everything included my health," Feilen said.

Feilen has been clean for four years after he entered recovery at Fairbanks, an addiction treatment and recovery center.

He said the ongoing treatment will likely last the rest of his life.

"This isn't just about getting off of drugs and alcohol. This is about a change of life and giving you a structured way to have that change of life," Feilen said.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said prescription drug abuse is an epidemic. It’s estimated that more than 23 million Americans are in long-term recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.

"If you think of recovery as a marathon, you have to train before you run the marathon, and so treatment is essentially that training," Fairbanks Assistant Director of Adult Services Tobin Linton said.

The Colts have not said what type of treatment Irsay is getting, but addiction experts said that with relapse rates from 40 to 60 percent, getting and staying clean is a lifelong challenge.

Addiction experts said the longer the treatment, the better. They advise that patients should devote a full year to recovery.

Follow Chris Proffitt on Twitter: @chrisproffitt

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