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Cris Carter Owes His Sobriety to the Purple & Gold

Cris Carter

Cris Carter Owes His Sobriety to the Purple & Gold

Cris Carter racked up some incredibly impressive numbers on the field over the 15 years he was with the NFL. But, as he illustrated at a recent People Incorporated gala, it’s his off-the-field numbers that have really made a mark on his life.

“It’s been 403 months since I had my last drink,” began Carter.

“1,754 weeks since I was strung out on cocaine.

“And 12,725 days since my drug counselor challenged me to not have a drink on Friday.

“And it’s been 1 billion, 600 million seconds since I decided to change my life.”

As the Minnesota Vikings site reports, Carter went on to explain that after three seasons in the NFL, Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Buddy Ryan released him from the team due to substance abuse issues.

His career very well could have ended then and there. But the Minnesota Vikings gave him a shot.

“The first thing this team did was help me off the field. And they made my overall mental health the number one priority,” Carter said. “They made me start going to meetings twice a week. They made me attend A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings. Made it mandatory for me to get drug tested.”

“And all those things, at the time, I was kicking and screaming,” he added. “Now when I look back, those were the disciplines that now give me the discipline to do great things no matter what I do.”

Good that they did too, because the Vikings commitment to the whole of Cris Carter was what gave Cris Carter that much-needed second chance. A chance, we all now well know, the Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver did not squander.

Cris Carter: Life-changing opportunities

As much as he credits the Vikings for his success, as well as his sobriety, Carter is also thankful for that same clear mindedness and deeper relationships with friends and family.

In fact, during his keynote for People Incorporated, he encouraged others to seek solid support for challenges they may be facing, whether mental-health related, addiction-related or both. A move that’s especially crucial considering the two are often entwined.

According to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, “substance abuse problems occur more frequently with certain mental health problems, including depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia and personality disorders.” SAMHSA also notes the following:

Certain substances can cause people with an addiction to experience one or more symptoms of a mental health problem.

Mental health problems can sometimes lead to alcohol or drug use, as some people with a mental health problem may misuse these substances as a form of self-medication.

Mental health and substance use disorders share some underlying causes, including changes in brain composition, genetic vulnerabilities, and early exposure to stress or trauma.

Carter acknowledged that getting help when he needed it most was “uncomfortable and a lot of work.”

But he’s a better man because of it. And when it looked like his NFL dream was falling away, the Vikings willingness to give Carter another opportunity is what changed his story completely.

Hall of Fame Gold

“I don’t get a Hall of Fame Gold Jacket unless the Minnesota Vikings go out of their way to help me,” Carter said, not to mention a Gold Chip from AA. “And that’s why we should be so supportive of organizations like People Incorporated. Organizations that are literally out there helping people navigate the rigors of metal health.

We all need help, said Carter. We all need a place to thrive. And that’s what the Minnesota Vikings were able to give to me. It gave me the power to build change in my life, to build change in my family’s life. And to come to events like this one realizing, ‘Oh yeah, I’m very, very different.’ But at this point in my life, I look in the mirror [and say], ‘I like that guy.’

“If you’re out there and you need [help], reach out to someone,” Carter added. “Reach out to a teammate. Reach out to a family member. Because there are more people right now willing to help you than you realize.”

Never a truer word has been said. There are legions out there ready to come to your aid; folks you’d never even expect to be there. All you’ve got to do is reach out and keep the faith. That’s what Cris Carter did, and now the man is The Man. That is, the kind of man he was meant to be all along.

Healing Properties would like to thank the Minnesota Vikings for providing such compelling copy, and People Incorporated for providing such encouraging services. Not for nothing are they considered one of Minnesota’s top non-profit mental health providers. Mostly though, we’d like to Thank Cris Carter, who remains as much an inspiration off the field as he ever was when he was on it.

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