Josh Gordon shocked the football world when he declined to return to the NFL, opting for addiction rehab instead. Just one week away from returning to the NFL for the first time since 2013, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon shocked the football world by delaying his comeback in favor of entering into an addiction rehab facility. This ended his 2016 season and cast doubt on his football future.

Gordon had been suspended from the NFL during the entire 2015 season as a result of multiple violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policies. After being reinstated on July 25, he was eligible to return in Week 5 of last season. But, he put all of that on hold to pursue treatment.

After careful thought and deep consideration I’ve decided that I need to step away from pursuing my return to the Browns and my football career to enter an inpatient rehabilitation facility. Gordon said in a statement released through the Browns.

“This is the right decision for me and one that I hope will enable me to gain full control of my life and continue on a path to reach my full potential as a person. I appreciate the support of the NFL, NFLPA, the Browns, my teammates, my agent and the community through this extremely challenging process.”

illustration of former pro football player Josh Gordon Cleveland Browns jersey

This decision was likely a very difficult one for Gordon, as it could mean the end of his tenure with the Cleveland Browns. After a stellar 2013 season where he led the league in receiving yards despite missing the first two games of the season (also due to suspension), Gordon was suspended 10 games by NFL in 2014 for violating the substance abuse policy for the second time.

He was then suspended by the team at the end of the 2014 season for missing a walkthrough. It seemed that Gordon was poised for a big turnaround in 2016 following suspensions in each of the past three seasons, but his recovery hit a speed bump.

“We support Josh in taking this step to seek additional help and treatment,” Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said in the statement. “His singular focus must be on his own health. We want nothing more than for Josh to be successful personally and professionally and will not comment on his status with the organization at this time.”

illustration of different years of a calendar all crossed off except for the year 2013

The Person Comes Before the Player

photo of tweet about recovery from Josh Gordon on TwitterWhen one considers the potential loss of income and the damage this could have on his career, Gordon should be commended for choosing to focus on his health. Not many people would be willing to leave millions of dollars on the table to seek help at an addiction rehab, as Gordon has chosen to do. Gordon was clearly struggling with some personal issues, as he indicated in a Sept. 29 Twitter post:
Too often, people neglect their personal health because of professional responsibilities. But when it comes to addiction, it will not improve unless you make recovery a priority. While it has taken Gordon nearly three years to make his sobriety and health a priority, at just 25-years-old, he still has plenty of time to turn things around. He may even be back on a field catching touchdowns in 2017.

Taking Control of Your Sobriety

Less than 12% of Americans who need treatment for a substance use disorder receive it.Nearly 22 million Americans struggled with a substance use disorder (SUD) in 2014, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).[2] Of those people, only 2.6 million received treatment at an addiction rehab.[3] While a lack of time and finances are common reasons why people opt not to seek treatment, very often it’s fear, shame, and denial that keeps them on the wrong path. No one wants to be judged or thought of differently because of difficulties with substance abuse.

piechart symbolizing less than 12% of Americans who need treatment for a substance use disorder receive it
Less than 12% of Americans who need treatment for a substance use disorder receive it.

The problem with this thinking is that the longer addiction goes untreated, the more difficult the journey to recovery. Additionally, continued substance abuse will almost definitely lead to several financial, personal, health and/or professional difficulties in varying degrees. Part of the issue is that people often wait for something bad to happen before doing something about their substance abuse.

They figure if nothing bad has happened, then their substance abuse must not be that big of a problem. A person who waits too long before seeking treatment could end up hurting themselves more over time.Self-rehab is an option that most people choose before seeking specialized treatment because of its affordability, flexibility, and lack of accountability. This involves addicted individuals attempting to reduce or eliminate substance abuse without the help of any professionals or therapies. While some people have been successful in breaking their addictions in this manner, it generally is ineffective. This is because self-rehab likely does not account for all of the factors contributing to a person’s substance abusing habits, including family history and mental health.[4]

Most people are not equipped to provide the type of self-care needed for long-term recovery success.
photo of a sailing yacht in the ocean

Begin Your Journey to Recovery

The first step in defeating addiction is realizing that you have a problem and making the decision to get help. A person trying to break his drug or alcohol dependence without help may as well be trying to push a boulder uphill. It is extremely difficult to overcome a SUD – as evidenced by the millions of people struggling with them across the world. You need every ally and tool possible in your fight against addiction.

The best-proven way to gain control over your SUD is to get professional help at a licensed, accredited and specialized addiction recovery center. It’s critical that this addiction care facility offers mental health screenings and treatments, medically supervised detox, group and individual counseling and a wide range of different therapies. These offerings focus on treating the whole individual, not just his addictions.

If you or someone close to you is fighting a losing battle against addiction, don’t wait for rock-bottom; take action today. Our compassionate and knowledgeable professionals are standing by and eager to help you or your loved one begin the journey to recovery.



Get Help Now

Speak to one of our experienced and caring representatives at Unity Behavioral Health to learn about how our rehab programs can help your loved one defeat addiction.


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