St George Illawarra legend Matt Cooper has admitted to a painkiller addiction since retiring from the game in 2011.
The former Australian and New South Wales centre told News Corp that his addiction to Endone meant he never knew if he would wake up from his sleep.
“It was a cocktail of prescription meds, painkillers,” said Cooper.
“I was like, ‘I’m taking too many pills here.’ There were times there I was like, ‘I’m not going to wake up.’
“I Googled how people die from this drug and they just stop breathing. That is when I realised I had to tell my wife.
“You can only hold a secret for so long and I was just getting tired.
“The night before I went in, I was sitting on the floor of my daughter’s bedroom holding her hand for an hour just crying because I thought tonight is the night I am not going to wake up.”
Cooper checked into a private hospital last month after a year-long addiction which began after a recurrence of an old neck injury.
“Surgery was going to be too risky of being paralysed. I’ve seen some guys get operations where they come out and they can’t even move their arm and it was a simple operation,” he said.
“For 10 months I didn’t do any training because I couldn’t as my neck was too sore. I was sitting watching TV and pretty much not doing too much because I was in too much pain.
“It was a downward spiral from there.”