Former NFL star Ricky Williams on how cannabis use changed his mindset, helped him cope with anxiety

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Ricky Williams has been rushing over 1,000 yards a year for five seasons with the Miami Dolphins Other Saints of New Orleans in his career.

But the NFL has also suspended Williams multiple times for testing positive for marijuana. Although the suspensions hurt Williams’ reputation in football, he has become a major advocate for using cannabis to treat pain and social anxiety.

The 44-year-old former All-Pro running back told Fox News Digital in a recent interview that he began seeing the benefits of marijuana in 2002.

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Ricky Williams (34) of the Miami Dolphins is faced by Paul Posluszny (51) and Reggie Corner (27) of the Buffalo Bills. 19, 2010, at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami.

Ricky Williams (34) of the Miami Dolphins is faced by Paul Posluszny (51) and Reggie Corner (27) of the Buffalo Bills. 19, 2010, at the Sun Life Stadium in Miami.
(Joel Auerbach / Getty Images)

“I think I noticed after failing a drug test in 2002 and the NFL said, ‘OK, now you’re going to get drug tested 10 times a month,’” Williams recalled. “So obviously I quit smoking. At the time I thought it wasn’t a big deal. But when I quit smoking, I noticed that I was taking more painkillers and I noticed that I was more anxious.

“So, I started smoking just a little bit just to see if there was a difference. And, in that situation, I noticed there was a big difference: I recovered faster, things didn’t annoyed so much and it was reflected in my performance.

“I was taking more painkillers because I was more aware of the pain I was in. In 2002, especially outside of California, no one really talked about medical marijuana. Especially in the NFL, most of the cannabis conversation was,” Don’t do this because it’s a drug and you’ll get in trouble. “I started using cannabis mainly because other football players on my team used it and suggested I use it. So it was more like peer pressure and adaptation.”

The Miami Dolphins turn back Ricky Williams during a game between the Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.

The Miami Dolphins turn back Ricky Williams during a game between the Dolphins and the Oakland Raiders at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.
(Getty Images)

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Williams immediately saw the benefits of smoking marijuana.

“That’s not what people say, because when I use cannabis, I wasn’t sitting on the sofa,” Williams said. “I was not lazy. I read, thought and did like autopsychology and worked on myself. he retired from the NFL in 2004 and I was free from those boundaries, I started traveling and chatting and I read and I understood, “Oh, they lied to us about that.”

“Then, I continued to do more research. And it became obvious that this is something that has been considered a medicine, considered something that helps people in their religious practices and understand each other better for thousands of years. And it’s only since 1937 that it’s considered something negative “.

While Williams said he was helping himself and his body, it was strange for him to be disciplined for it. He has been suspended from the NFL multiple times and was even mocked as a drug addict by former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann when Williams signed with the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League.

“It was a little confusing. But the nature of cannabis is that it opens your mind. It made me think differently,” Williams told Fox News Digital. “And what I realized is that the idea that these things are happening to me – maybe there is a reason behind all of this. And that really changed my perspective. And instead of feeling like a victim, I realized that this was a wonderful opportunity for me. “

Williams said using cannabis helped him reverse his thinking and cope with his anxiety problems.

“If anyone has it social anxiety or any type of mental health problem, the standard treatment is twofold. It is usually some kind of speech therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy, and people often go the pharmaceutical route. The idea is that there is something internally that is causing the person problems, “she said.

Ricky Williams speaks on stage during the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on Oct. 8, 2021 in Austin, Texas.
(Rick Kern / WireImage)

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“For me, cannabis was a little bit of both. There is obviously a chemical component. That’s why we call it a drug. But it’s what I call autopsychotherapy,” Williams explained. “And after training, when I came home and smoked, I reflected on my day and understood myself better. I understood where these certain impulses came from, things I didn’t understand very much.

“Because the nature of what cannabis does puts us more in touch with how we feel. So much world – so much life, especially for me, especially football players, macho men – we are taught not to be in touch with Our feelings. Set them aside so I can get the job done. And for some people it works, but for me it didn’t work. Cannabis allowed me to be more in touch with how I felt. When I was in touching how I felt, I noticed that I was much less anxious. Instead of masking the problem, cannabis actually helped me get to the root. “

Cannabis made Williams introspective.

“Usually the first thing that comes up is the things that didn’t feel right, the things about the day and the things about the week and getting to the bottom of why he wasn’t feeling well, not why that person did, but because it hit me that way, “he said. “In that receptive state that cannabis tends to offend, it’s easier to reflect and go back in time and think about what other similar situations have occurred in my life and might have something to do with why I was feeling this way. I too think the spaciousness of cannabis genres allows us not to cling to things and to see the bigger picture and to see where things fit into a broader perspective and that sense of relief of “Oh, I get it. I understand. “It’s powerful.”

Williams launched the cannabis lifestyle brand Highsman in October 2021, releasing three types of flowers under his brand: Pregame, a sativa; Halftime, a hybrid; and Postgame, an indica. She also teamed up with Jeeter to launch a live resin pre-roll and vape set called “Sticky Ricky”.

All proceeds from the collaboration between Highsman and Jeeter are donated to Athletes for CARE, a mental health organization founded by former professional athletes to address major mental, physical or financial health issues.

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Williams told Fox News Digital that better cannabis use education could help break the stigma of the lazy smoker.

Ricky Williams launched Highsman and some cannabis products in October 2021.

Ricky Williams launched Highsman and some cannabis products in October 2021.
(Highest)

“I think if you look at our education system, we’re not really taught to think for ourselves. So a lot of times people consume cannabis and have this spaciousness,” Williams said. “They have no training in how to think for themselves and just want to be entertained or they just want to use their sharp senses to have fun.

“And there’s nothing wrong with that. But, as I said, if we look at the history of cannabis, people have been using cannabis for their … reflection for thousands of years. Let’s think about the fact that this type of cannabis narrows that mindset is still around. We know it has been bred for this for thousands of years. And people have long understood and recognized that there is something helpful about this elevated and altered state of mind that allows us to have a different perspective on our problems. “

The 1998 Heisman Trophy winner added that it is up to the industry to be the leader in education.

“I think it’s going to take the industry, it’s going to take the brands. The way our culture was formed is that anyone with the best brand can lead us to try something. Part of that long-term strategy and what a lot of people have been like. working on is like changing the stigma, ”Williams said.

“When people have thought, ‘If I do this, I’ll get in trouble’, it’s extremely powerful. Obviously, there are people like me and other people in the industry where it’s not that strong and the need for adventure is a little bit more. strong, but there is a large part of the population that does not come close to cannabis due to the lies they have been told.

Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams rushes to midfield. 28, 2003, at Pro Player Stadium in Miami.

Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams rushes to midfield. 28, 2003, at Pro Player Stadium in Miami.
(Al Messerschmidt / Getty Images)

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“I think understanding this is part of the industry and the work of the brand. This is one of the main reasons I started Highsman because it is creating a platform that allows us to talk about cannabis differently. When I do interviews and people ask me. of cannabis, I can tell my story and for me part of it is, “Yeah, I’ve been suspended and been through all these things.”

“But the most important part of the story is how I used it, how I used it to improve the quality of my life and, for me, it’s something that, regardless of whether people agree or not, at least it’s an interesting conversation and it’s a different perspective. “