Former NFL offensive lineman Eben Britton has been a longtime cannabis advocate and educator; in recent years he has become an entrepreneur as well, starting his own health and wellness company, Be Trū Organics. As one of the main subjects of the new Netflix documentary Take Your Pills, produced by Maria Shriver and Christina Schwarzenegger, Eben reveals his struggle with prescription pain medications and how cannabis helped him overcome that addiction. He went even deeper into detail for our CANNABIS print issue. Read on to find out why Eben calls cannabis “a tool for health” unlike any other.
By Eben BrittonLike every other guy that has played football, I have endured many injuries covering my body. From my head to my toes, everything has been broken to some degree.I’m sitting here at my desk with a shooting pain like a spear through my lower back. In 2010 I suffered a life-altering back injury during off-season workouts with the Jaguars. The disc between L5 and S1 exploded like a jelly donut squirting toxic ooze all over my sciatic nerve. It would be over a year before I corrected the issue in surgery, which resulted in an infection. I was put on eight weeks of intravenous antibiotics and placed on injured reserve. Long story short – I’m dealing with the residual damage of that ordeal to this day.My compressed discs. My twisted spine. There is an ebb and flow to the surges of pain through my body. A twisted spine and rib cage. My sternum frequently spasms and most days I have no feeling in the bottom of my foot. My daily regimen to manage that pain consists of yoga and exercise, along with regular cannabis use. One of my favorite aspects of the cannabis plant is that it can be used in a variety of ways. I use cannabinoid-rich topical pain relief creams, high-CBD tinctures. I smoke the flower, eat the seeds, vaporize the extracts, and wear the clothes when I can. I truly appreciate the fact that cannabis is not only a versatile herbal remedy, but also a great material for everything from clothing to car parts.The pills always made me feel crazy. Anger and frustration would simmer at the surface, on the edge of snapping at even just the whiff of something displeasing. After taking them I felt so irritated and uncomfortable that my physical distress was exacerbated. From black depression and feelings of hopelessness to waking up at three in the morning drenched in the cold sweats of withdrawal.The truth is that thousands of people and families are dealing with the brutal reality of opiate addiction. A recent report from the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) states: “Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with 52,404 lethal drug overdoses in 2015. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 20,101 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 12,990 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015.”*Meanwhile there has always been this plant, a substance highly demonized by the world. There was no way you could be a “stoner” and a “jock.” The idea was that if you were someone who wanted to partake, you probably were not going to be a success on the field. What mattered was that my intuition was telling me differently.As my career progressed and the game took its toll on my body, I found myself repeatedly drawn back to the plant. It soothed me, especially in those most severe times of pain. It quieted the chaos in my mind, providing me with an inner peace suitable for a recovering body.Today, nearly three years out of my football career, I’m dealing with pain on a daily basis: back pain, a neck that doesn’t turn, feet that feel like bricks and ankles that unhinge. Cannabis allows me to work through all of it. I remember the pills sent me into a hopeless mental state where there was no possibility of feeling better. On a physical note, opiates cause respiratory depression, making it difficult to get up off the couch, much less get exercise. The body heals when it flows, when fresh blood loaded with nutrients can be carried back and forth to the affected area. We accomplish that through movement – and cannabis is the fire that ignites that action.–Eben Britton played for six years in the NFL. He is the cofounder of the wellness company Be Trü Organics and has written for publications including Playboy magazine, SportsIllustrated.com’s The Cauldron, and Leafly. Eben is also the co-host, with fellow NFL alum Nate Jackson, of The Mindful Warrior podcast. Listen here. Visit betruwellness.com to learn more, or follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @edsbritton.—Sources: “Opioid Addiction 2016 Facts & Figures,” American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).“The Effects of Opiate Use.” DrugAbuse.com.**A version of this article appeared in print in Honeysuckle Magazine’s CANNABIS issue. Order copies here or find one near you with our Store Locator.Stay tuned for more stories from our CANNABIS issue and the community!