What is Done in the Dark Will Come to the Light: A Look Into the Private Drug Addiction of NBA Star Lamar Odom

On October 13th, 2015, former NBA star, Lamar Odom, was found unconscious in Nevada brothel, The Love Ranch. After spending 4 days in a coma, he awoke in a Los Angeles hospital room with a blurred consciousness and inability to move his 6’10” frame. Just a few months’ shy of the 2nd anniversary of this tragic incident, Odom reflects with the Player’s Tribune on the tumultuous series of events leading up to his ultimate combustion, nearly 25 years in the making.

“I didn’t try it until I was 24 years old, when I was on summer vacation in Miami. And … I wish I could tell you there was a reason for it.” Odom recalls of his initial encounter with the powerfully addictive stimulant, cocaine. “It was just an asinine decision I made. If I knew that it was going to affect my life the way it did, I would’ve never even thought about it.” Upon losing his mother at the age of 12 as well as his grandmother at the age of 20, the two most important figures in his life had been stripped from his finger tips, ultimately encouraging him to turn to drugs as an outlet of emotional relief. “I lost a lot of family members in a short period of time. When I did coke, I felt good for a minute. I stopped having so much anxiety. I didn’t think about the pain. I didn’t think about death.”

Being the 2nd most highly trafficked drug in the world, surveys have noted that nearly 35.3 million Americans 12 and older have admitted to using cocaine. Many short terms effects of cocaine include a burst of extreme happiness or energy, hypersensitivity, mental alertness and even paranoia. “At that point in my life, I was doing coke every day. Pretty much every second of free time that I had, I was doing coke. I couldn’t control it.” Odom states. 

As a highly addictive drug, cocaine’s effect on the brain is almost immediate, causing an influx of sensations to cloud the brain of any pain, worry, or stress. This appeals to many suffering mental distress, as it serves as a distraction of any unwanted emotion, a perfect concoction to relieve Odom of his turbulent past. “With cocaine especially, there’s a high, and then an emotional low. So it’s like a roller coaster. You go high, and then you go low..” Odom recalls, “After you do it, you feel shame. You think about all the reasons why you shouldn’t have done it. Then the cycle starts again.” 

After several months of hospitalization and rehabilitation, Odom is now on the road to recovery. Upon “shaking hands with death”, Odom has realized the importance of living a clean lifestyle not only for himself, but for his family and friends. "You know, it’s crazy … when I was in the hospital, and I couldn’t even walk, all these people came to see me that I hadn’t seen in a minute. It kind of reminded me of who I was, and what I’ve meant to some people.” Odom states, “I’m sober now. But it’s an everyday struggle. I have an addiction. I’ll always have an addiction. It never goes away. I mean, I want to get high right now. But I know that I can’t if I want to be here for my children.” As he concludes his story of overcoming addiction, his celebrity status fades into a more relative being, as we are reminded that addiction knows no bounds. Odom also serves as a reminder that even at our lowest points, we can overcome truly anything. 

To experience the in depth interview, please follow the link below. Please be advised, the video does contain adult language.


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