During a conference call to promote "Warrior" on Friday, I got a few minutes to speak to Kurt Angle, who plays a Russian fighter in the movie. During my time on the call, I asked for his thoughts on Matt Hardy. Angle has been somewhat open in the past about his own struggles with drug addiction, so when you combine that with his experiences with Hardy in WWE and TNA, it gives him better perspective than most people have of what's going on.
I considered dividing up Angle's response into various pull quotes to form a more traditional article with the quotes about Hardy and Angle himself separated. I decided against it since what Angle said is a much more compelling read as-is. Thus, here is Angle's complete response, which talks about Matt Hardy hitting bottom, the improvement he's seen in Jeff Hardy, and the most frank and humble account I've ever seen of the depths of his own addiction to painkillers.
"Yeah, y'know what, I can tell you this: I'm praying for Matt. God bless him, I pray to God he gets through this. He has hit a low point in his life. Jeff did that about three or four months ago and Jeff Hardy is now a reborn person, he's completely different. I think the birth of his child really helped him look at it in perspective.
These two guys are incredible wrestlers, they're awesome kids, and they're free spirits. And, y'know, they tend to get a little wild, and Matt right now has hit his all-time low point. The only advice I can give Matt is 'I've been there too.'
My painkiller addiction was to the point I would pass out. There are some days I thank God that I'm still alive. I was taking 65 extra-strength Vicodin a day. You shouldn't be living when you take that much, and I was doing it for two years.
I went to a doctor and decided to quit cold turkey, and the doctor told me 'If you do that, you could die.' And I said 'Doc, I don't want to touch it again.' He said 'Well, you're going to go through a lot of pain.' And the pain was so excruciating that I didn't wanna live, I mean it was that bad.
That's the problem with addiction, when you try to get off, your body goes through a withdrawal symptom that...you just can't handle it, physically or mentally. What got me through it was God. I prayed. I prayed all the time.
I even stayed full time on the road with WWE and I'd be in hotel rooms with other wrestlers that I knew that had painkillers, and I could've walked over and said 'Hey, can I have a couple?' I didn't do that. I stayed in my room, I toughed it out. It took me five months. Five whole months just to feel normal.
I don't condone somebody just quit cold turkey, I suggest to them that they go to a doctor. If you're really that bad, you definitely need to go to a rehab.
I think that's the best way, that's the safest way, and I pray to God that Matt looks in the mirror and says 'You know what, I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do this for my family.' I just love Matt, and I love Jeff, and I'm so proud of Jeff. I saw Jeff last night for the first time, and he looked great, and Jeff told everybody how bad Matt was doing.
I just hope to God that he finds a way to get out of this, and never goes back, but once you do it, you're an addict for life. There is no going back. If you go back, you'll never come back to normalcy again. I know I can never touch a painkiller again, and I won't. I refuse to, because I'll never go back to that feeling again, and I can tell you when you're taking them, you feel invincible.
Then, you get off of them, and you feel weak, so run down, you have these symptoms where you have cold sweats, and you're shaking, and you can't sleep and you have diarrhea and you're throwing up, and it's the most painful experience I've ever had. And God got me through it, and I'll never go back."
While Angle has been known to exaggerate in the past (to say the least) and I'm skeptical about some of the specifics of what he said, he sounded much more humble than the last time he spoke of his addictions publicly. Talking about how he can never touch a painkiller again, is always an addict even if he isn't using, etc. shows that he is more aware of his problems.
I sincerely hope that he's walking the walk as well as he's talking the talk, and that his evaluation of Jeff Hardy is accurate. As for Matt Hardy, I hope that this tweet from the day after I spoke to Angle means what we all hope it means, that he's going to rehab:
"I thanks for all the love & support u people, my family, my friends. I am doing what I needed to do-Today is my 'rebirth' Sat 27th, 2011"