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Former NFL player recounts struggle with alcohol addiction |

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Former NFL player recounts struggle with alcohol addiction

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As we continue to fight the pandemic, many are still dealing with health issues and job loss.

Though we are slowly recovering, many are still dealing with depression or addiction after such a hard year.

Since April is National Alcohol Awareness Month, 8 News Now sat down with one former NFL player who shared the story of how he overcame his alcoholic addiction.

 “I say addiction is a beautiful mistress, but she will take it all from you,” said former NFL player Patrick Venzke. “She is a very jealous lover.”

Patrick Venzke is at desert hope addiction treatment center.

His affair with alcohol began in 2008 when the housing market crash hit him hard. He went from being a multimillionaire realtor to living on food stamps to support his family.

"I could tell I was using alcohol like a tool, like pain killers in the NFL,” Venzke said. “I just want to function one more day. I didn't care about my long-term health; I just want to make it through one more day so I can feed my kids."

Venzke fights the misconception daily about addiction being a lack of self-control.

He was a gladiator on the field for years, becoming the first German citizen playing for three NFL teams — the Jaguars, Eagles and Colts.

Venzke went from a casual drinking — enjoying a nice glass of red wine with a steak — to something more.

"You got the shakes in the morning and you think maybe a little White Claw to watch the sunrise will be great and then by lunch you're a 12 pack in you don't feel like your drunk anything, you just tried to normalize your feelings,” Venzke said.

As Venzke finishes his program at desert hope, he is five months sober and wants to dedicate his life to helping others.

"I'm going to call it ‘Big Man in a Van.’ It's going to be podcast,” Venzke said. “I want to go throughout the united states talking to high schools."

He wants to share the message that while it may start in fun, sometimes addiction may end in death.