Max Hall is a former quarterback for Brigham Young University and played in the National Football League for the Arizona Cardinals and in the Canadian Football League for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Over the course of his football career, Max sustained multiple concussions as well as other injuries that led to an opioid addiction. Today he is the varsity offensive coordinator at American Leadership Academy High School in Queen Creek, Arizona, and co-owner of Victory Recovery, an addiction recovery program.
2:15 Max Hall played as a quarterback at BYU. Later he played professionally for the Arizona Cardinals.
6:20 Max felt his faith was strong and his testimony grew at BYU. But he began to be consumed by his identity as a football player. He began to lose focus on his callings as a husband, father, and in the Church. Football became his focus and his identity. In his first few games, he was knocked out twice with concussions. A few games later he dislocated his shoulder. Dislocating his shoulder changed him. He felt that his NFL career was over, and consequently that he was losing his identity. At the same time, he was given a 30-day supply of percocet to manage the pain of the shoulder injury. The Percocet made him feel better. He took the 30-day supply in three days. The drug hooked him, and he became physically addicted.
9:30 Max started losing focus on everything other than the drugs. The drugs became more important than recovery and than being a good father.
10:15 Max had previously tried Percocet in high school. He gave in to peer pressure and tried some with friends. It was an amazing feeling. In high school, he didn’t get addicted to it. He’d try it on weekends for fun. After his shoulder injury, when he finished his 30-day supply in three days, he called up his high school friend, who supplied him with oxycontin.
12:00 The following year, Max played again. But he dislocated his shoulder again. His addiction continued to grow. He turned to other drugs – heroin, cocaine, meth. Over the next five years, Max did have times of sobriety. He failed an NFL drug test, and a doctor put him on suboxone. Max started coaching at BYU, and it started out well. But come spring, he started using again. He played for two years in the CFL, where he didn’t use hard drugs. When he came back to Arizona, he had a bad relapse. He was arrested for possessing cocaine. When it hit the press, he considered suicide. His mom called him, he entered rehab, and he started on his path to sobriety.
17:45 Addiction is hell. It takes your soul. It makes you a different person. He was a manipulator, a liar, and a cheater. He would do anything he had to do to keep his addiction going. It takes the soul of the addict and breaks the hearts of those around them. In rehab, he was wondering how he could ever fix everything that was wrong. He’s been fortunate to have a strong support system.
18:40 Max does EDD’s (every day drills) to keep himself right. He gets up with the alarm, goes to the gym, does meditation, and reads a book to set himself up for the day. He’s been doing it for over 8 years. Without a program and discipline, it won’t work. A lot of recovery is the things you do on a daily basis to make yourself a better person.
20:30 During his addiction, Max could not look up. He had lost his connection with the Spirit and with Christ. It got to the point where he was mad at God – “Why did this happen to me?” It took a lot of searching and prayer and relying on the Savior to regain that connection. Without Christ, Max wouldn’t be where he is at.
22:00 Max considers getting arrested to be a blessing. His secret was out. He wanted to die. He wanted to disappear. But he had to make a decision to own it and to fight. Max’s wife told him that if he was willing to fight, she would fight alongside him.
23:00 Max’s wife learned of his addiction about a year into it. He lied about being sober and he convinced her to keep it quiet. But she learned about addiction and codependency and sought counseling for herself to help her through it. Without his wife, Max doesn’t think he would be where he is. When a church leader is working with an addict, they may also take time with the addict’s spouse.
24:45 Church leaders play a big role, but need to understand a few things. They may not know how to handle the addict and the spouse. When someone is deep in addiction, we focus on the spiritual side and get them professional help. Help and counsel with the spouses separately.
26:30 Max would avoid church so people would not notice what was wrong with him. Addicts are good at telling people what they want to hear to get them off their backs so the addicts can continue feeding their addiction. They will downplay the severity of what’s going on.
28:45 Relying on Christ is an important part of the process. The first step of AA (Alcoholics Anonymous, or ADR Addiction Recovery) is admitting you have a problem and need help. A subsequent step is turning to a higher power for help. Addicts need to understand they cannot heal themselves. They need help. They need hope. At the same time, they will not be able to pray their addiction away. After thirty days, as the fog of drugs clears, the triggers and cravings come back. Many addicts relapse after thirty days. That’s why they need professional help to get through it.
31:30 Max’s recovery: First, he had to go to a detox. Then, he went to a rehab center. At the rehab center, he was still going through physical withdrawals. The detox and withdrawals was the worst thing he has been through in his life. Then he had to recondition himself and prepare himself for moving forward. When he got home, he thought he was doing great. But after a couple of weeks, he fell into depression. He couldn’t get off the couch. After about a year, his wife confronted him – you said you were going to fight. This isn’t fighting. So he regrouped. He realized he needed a team. He needed people around him. He got a sponsor. He talked to family and friends and told them he would check in with them.
33:45 You need a team. Sometimes people find the team by going to addiction recovery meetings. Other people find another team. Either way, you need a team.
36:50 Initially, Max had a sponsor, another NFL player, who had been through his own injuries and addictions. He would call Max on his BS. Max didn’t like it at first, but he was willing to improve. Now Max runs a clinic and has a podcast. He has surrounded himself with people he can turn to if he needs to, and he is giving back to others who are addicted.
38:10 Connection is a key to recovery. Max feels like we don’t foster connection well in our Church, particularly for addicts. We tend to shun those who are addicts. Addicts are judged. We need to be more compassionate with those who struggle. We need to change the culture in the Church. We’re afraid that if people find out, we’ll be judged. One of Satan’s most powerful tools is addiction.
43:10 Max tore his Achilles tendon at the BYU Alumni game. He went through surgery without pain pills. He told the doctors not to write him a prescription for pain medication. When he got home, his phone dinged, telling him his prescription for pain meds was ready. No one but Max knew about it. The addict in him thought about letting the prescription sit there. But then he asked his wife to cancel the prescription.
47:50 Max’s rehab center is called Victory Recovery. It is an intensive rehab center. It uses many of the twelve-step principles. Max wants to be a resource for church leaders. He wants church leaders to be able to send addicts to Victory Recovery.
50:00 It’s important to discuss addiction. Leaders need to know about it and do research to be able to teach our kids. Max sat down with his kids and told them about his experience and warned them about addiction. When kids are around 10 or 11, we need to sit down with our kids and talk to them about the dangers of addiction.
52:20 Growing up, we see the Atonement as “make a mistake, pray for forgiveness, be forgiven.” The Atonement is more than that. It works through your whole body. It changes who you are as a person. It’s daily conversations with Christ.
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