According to Oxford United psychotherapist Gary Bloom, sleeping pill addiction in football is “far more prevalent than people realize”.

Everton midfielder Dele Alli says he spent six weeks in rehab after suffering from sleeping pill addiction and mental health problems.

Bloom is currently the only psychotherapist working at the club in England.

Former Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland agreed, saying “addiction is a big problem in football”.

In an emotional interview with the podcast “The Overlap,” Dele opened up about the abuse he suffered during his childhood before being adopted at the age of 12.

And of his own sleeping pill addiction, he added that his substance abuse is “more prevalent in football than you might think.” “I’ve gotten a lot,” the 27-year-old said. “I don’t want to get into numbers, but there were clearly too many and there were some scary moments.”

Former pundit Bloom, who has worked for Oxford in League One for five years, explained to the World Service the link between maximizing on-pitch performance and falling asleep.

“Sleeping pill addiction is a widespread epidemic, much more widespread than people realize,” he said. “Caffeinated stimulants are also widely used in matches.

“Gamers get a lot of excitement during gaming because they want to have legitimate thrills while playing, but it keeps them awake at night.” “Then sleeping pills are prescribed and the cycle continues.”

Last summer, former Rotherham and Northampton defender Ryan Cresswell said he was “fighting for his life” with a pill addiction.

Bloom said he needed more psychological support within the club.

“Football clubs have just realized that people who have problems off the pitch will inevitably end up on the pitch,” he said.

“In my opinion, more clubs should hire psychotherapists who can meet freely with their players and warn them of the consequences of not resolving their personal problems.”

‘Clubs need to do more’

In June 2022, Kirkland revealed details of his own 10-year addiction to painkillers.

He believes it is up to the club to better support its players.

“My wife still does random drug tests on me,” he said. “Addiction is very serious in this game, gambling, alcohol, drugs.

“We hope Dele’s coming out will help those who seek help to make big changes.”

In an interview with Dele, Michael Bennett, director of player health for the Dr. Professional Footballers Association (PFA), said the association “regularly supports members who have developed addictions to sleeping pills and other drugs.” ‘ said.

“Even in small doses, prescription drugs can become habit-forming,” he added.

“If a player is taking sleeping pills or other prescription drugs and is concerned that they may have developed an addiction, we encourage them to consult confidentially with the PFA and take advantage of the support we can provide. Recommended.”

Kirkland added that society could be more tolerant and accepting of people struggling with addiction.

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“Rather than blaming and offending people, why not offer to help?” he said. “We live in a culture where it is acceptable to apply more pressure and abuse to people, especially those in the public eye.”

“I don’t think it will go away, but there are more things we can do to prevent it.”

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