Ex-Preston, Liverpool and Wigan goalkeeper Chris Kirkland opens up about his "horrendous" 10-year painkiller addiction

Goalkeeping star Chris Kirkland has spoken out for the first time about his decade-long addiction to painkillers.
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The former England, PNE, Wigan and Liverpool player, who now works as head goalkeeping coach at Colne, posted an emotional video to Twitter today saying it had "messed him up".

>>>Click here to read what he said about needing “time and space away from the game” when he left Bury

The father-of-one added he even considered taking his life in February this year while struggling with the secret addiction to tramadol.

What did he say?

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He said: “It’s been a horrendous time, not just for me but for the girls, Leeona and Lucy as well.

"You know, they’ve had their husband and dad, but they’ve not really. I’ve not been there. They’ve (the painkillers) messed me up completely.”

Going on to talk about coming off the tablets, he said: “I feel fantastic. As we stand I went cold turkey and got off them five months ago.

Chris Kirkland playing for PNEChris Kirkland playing for PNE
Chris Kirkland playing for PNE

"Leeona my wife was just incredible, she was checking on me every night.

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"Every story, every video you see on cold turkey is true – and some. It was a horrendous week, so painful. But she was there for me every step of the way and is an absolute diamond.”

“Ask for help”

Chris, 41, who lives in Lancashire, said he had been taking up to 2,500mg of tramadol a day at his worst points.

He said this was his third attempt at coming off the painkillers, and that this time he’s realised he needs to ask for help.

He said: “Tell friends, tell people, get it out in the open, you can’t carry it.

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"You know, I feel like I’m a fraud at times because I’m not telling the truth.

"Obviously it’s affected my mental health massively and I need it out there, to stay in recovery and help people.”

Chris said his social media DM’s (direct messages) are open to anyone who is experiencing similar problems.

What is tramadol?

Tramadol is used to treat moderate to severe pain. People usually swallow it in pills or capsules.

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On its own, tramadol is a prescription-only painkiller. People who take tramadol illegally, or abuse their prescription, sometimes crush up the tablets and snort them.

How does it make people behave?

Although tramadol is not as strong as heroin, it shares many of the same effects and both are addictive.

It is prescribed as a painkiller, but it can make you feel: calm, happy, relaxed, awake – it may stop you from sleeping, sick – you may need to vomit, dizzy, tired and lethargic – you may feel like you have no energy, constipated, uninterested in food, drowsy, confused, sweaty, itchy, moody and irritable.

It can also cause sensory disturbances, hallucinations, fits and blood disorders.

For help with drug addiction, click here for the NHS website, or click here for Talk To Frank.