Abby Wambach Comments on Alcohol, Prescription-Drug Abuse in AP Interview

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 12, 2016

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 16:  Abby Wambach #20 of the United States reacts as she is introduced prior to the women's soccer match against China at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 16, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

In an interview with the Associated Press' Anne M. Peterson on Monday, former United States women's national soccer team star Abby Wambach said she had problems with substance abuse during her playing career.

"I was stubborn, and I was in denial," Wambach said. "I didn't want to face the truth."

The 36-year-old said everything changed following her arrest in April. On April 12, she pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of intoxicants and enrolled in a diversionary program.

After Wambach's arrest, Jeff DiVeronica and Will Cleveland of the Democrat and Chronicle unearthed court documents that shed light on Wambach's past drug and alcohol use:

After her arrest, Wambach allegedly told police she "first used marijuana by the age of 24," according to the Multnomah County Motion for Release document. And that the last use of marijuana was at age 25. The document also stated, "The defendant tried cocaine at age 25." It also states that she has "no prior use of heroin or meth. No prior addiction to prescription medication." Wambach admits to drinking alcohol weekly.

Wambach told Peterson the arrest forced her to reflect on her situation:

That night getting arrested was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Because if I don't get so publicly shamed and publicly humiliated, I don't think I wake up. I think I was asleep for a lot of years. Asleep to the pleas from my family and friends, and even myself, to get help. So that night I was humiliated enough to wake up.

Wambach, whose memoir Forward is set to be released Tuesday, said she has been sober since her arrest. In the book, she said she abused vodka and pills such as Vicodin, Ambien and Adderall, per Peterson.

She retired from the USWNT in December following a 1-0 friendly loss to China. For many fans, Mia Hamm remains the best U.S. player to step on a soccer pitch, but Wambach has a strong case.

The 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year holds the record for most goals in international soccer with 184 in 255 matches.

Wambach is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and helped the United States win the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup, finish as runner-up in 2011 and claim third place in 2003 and 2007.


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