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Johnny Manziel Faces a Number of Challenges Obstacles in His Rehab and Recovery, During and After Treatment

Updated on February 8, 2015

Hey everyone, look at me!

The Red Flag and Warning Signs

In retrospect, we can ask how the Cleveland Browns missed so many warning signs and red flags regarding the personal issues and character flaws of Johnny Manziel. Examples of troubling behavior and incidents abound, both during his glorious, trill-a-minute career at Texas A&M, during the lead-up to the 2014 NFL Draft and, thereafter, during his embarrassingly awful rookie season. What we do know now is that his entire life is presently as chaotic as were the plays that made him famous as an Aggie.

Before moving on to the substance of this article as indicated by the title, I am going to briefly summarize some of the red flags and warning signs that were out there for all to see at all relevant times to the Cleveland Browns' drafting of him with the 22nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. I think what happened to the Browns is that each separate incident was simply an inevitable extension of Johnny Football's mesmerizing talent and electric style of play. Things that would be cause for concern with most everyone else in the draft were forgiven, because Johnny Football is just young and famous, and who hasn't made mistakes in their own lives? . These individual incidents are arguably just blips on the radar when on an island by themselves, but together they formed what should have been a clear risk profile that warned the teams away from using a 1st-round pick on him (let alone pay the price to trade up and nab him with a second 1st-rounder.)

A Downward Spiral

* June 29, 2012 - College Station, Texas Manziel arrested and charged with possession of a fake driver's license (plead guilty), failure to identify and disorderly conduct (both of which were dismissed in connection with his guilty plea.) While this may not reflect directly on Johnny Football because he apparently didn't say this himself, it is troubling to me that he was in the company of a friend who allegedly uttered a racial slur during this incident.

* 2013 Off-season: Increasingly, incidents relating to Manziel's off-field behavior are being reported. Per Wikipedia: during the 2013 off-season, "[n]otable Notable incidents include his early departure from the Manning Passing Academy after allegedly oversleeping,[100]tweeting that he 'can't wait to leave College Station' after receiving a parking ticket,[101] and getting kicked out of a University of Texasfraternity party.[102] An ESPN The Magazine article revealed his parents' concerns about his dealings with his newfound stardom."

* August 2013: Per ESPN, there was an active investigation by the NCAA involving allegations that Manziel received compensation in connection with the sale of his autographs. The NCAA ultimately didn't get enough dirt on him to nail him for it, but the fact that Manziel found himself embroiled in yet another off-field incident surely should have been noteworthy by this point in time.

2014 and 2015 (Off the Field): Johnny Football's partying and off-field antics reach a fever pitch, but he's seen by many as just a young guy enjoying himself who is a wildcard off the field as well as on it with his play, but is ultimately harmless and a "gamer." Numerous reports, supplemented by some video and photo evidence, show Johnny partying hard. Partying becomes a problem when Manziel and some teammates miss a team meeting.

The above constitutes only a partial list of Johnny Football's on-and-off-field antics since he came onto the scene at Texas A&M, once home to the famed "Junction Boys" during the Bear Bryant years.

Everybody Wants a Piece of Me!

Johnny's Texas-Sized Ego

One fundamental aspect of any program of recovery - whether based on 12-step principles or otherwise - is getting a handle on your ego. This is going to be a significant challenge for Johnny Manziel, who fully embraced the Johnny Football moniker and image.

This won't be helped by the inevitable flock of jock sniffers that will follow him around and kiss his ass in whatever treatment program he finds himself in. Depending on the facility he checks himself into, this may even be true of the counselors, psychiatrists, psychologists and other staff who are supposed to be part of his "treatment team."


The Party Can't Be Over; It's Barely Even Started!

Johnny Manziel just turned 22 years old. Forget the temptation that he'll be surrounded by as a famous athlete (putting aside for a moment that this may be no greater than the temptation suffered by everyday people who share his problems).

A problem that is endemic among young people in treatment is the fear that "I'm so young that the party hasn't even started yet!" And you know what? There's some truth to this fear, no matter how many times you hear slogans in treatment like "My worst day sober is better than my best day drunk." This simply isn't true for everybody. There's nothing wrong with recognizing the reality that people have a lot of fun drinking and partying, throughout their lives (but especially for college students and other young people of college age.) Unfortunately, however, if you're an addict then you're not like anyone else, and drugs and alcohol threaten your life and well-being in ways that they don't threaten the average person.

But try getting that message through to Johnny Manziel, or any other person that age who's in treatment. It's very difficult to do so.

Not a care in the world!

You Can't Have a Problem if You're Wearing a Suit!

I Had a Drinking and/or Drug Problem But I'm Not an Alcoholic or Addict

One thin to take into consideration is that - whether this is ultimately true or not - many young people in the same situation as Johnny Manziel don't believe that they're actually alcoholics or drug addicts. They often enter treatment to placate others and get people off their back, whether family and/or friends for most people, or, in Johnny's case, family, friends and an NFL franchise worth around a billion dollars that stuck its neck out to draft you.

It is impossible for anyone to know what's really going on in Johnny's head. This even applies to his closest friends and family. He may have seen the writing on the wall and decided he needed to do this to get everyone in his life off his back. Or, he may actually accept that he has a "problem" of sorts, but one that falls short of alcoholism or addiction.

And this may very well be true. He might not be an actual addict or alcoholic. Many people "in recovery" dry themselves out and then go out there and try their hand at moderation. Some people really aren't addicts or alcoholics, even if their drinking or drugging did cause or contribute to problems in their lives. But very often they are.

After making his team happy, getting good PR from completing a treatment program, and getting his family and friends off of his back, Johnny may decide that he's capable of moderation and that he can drink responsibly as "Johnny Manziel" and leave the "Johnny Football" phase of his life behind. Unfortunately for those who love him and the Cleveland Browns, it is probably most likely that he will try to do so, only under the radar at first. The only silver lining to this happening is that at least he'll know whether he was just a problem drinker or is a full-blown alcoholic. For his sake, I hope he isn't, because if he is an alcoholic and he continues to drink and party, he could lose everything.

"Hey Doc, my back and shoulder are killing me and I can't sleep at night! By the way, do you want an autographed football to put under the picture of us?"

Swapping One Problem For Another

"Drinking is My Problem; I've Never Even Liked Popping Pills!"

One concept that will be hammered into your head during treatment is that you will fail in your recovery if you try to justify using substances other than your drink or drug of choice. Many people in Johnny Manziel's shoes will be tempted to try to get their hands on another mood altering substance other than their drug of choice, and will justify using it by saying that it isn't what they have a problem with. Maybe he'll get a jock-sniffing doctor to prescribe him Oxy 80's or SOMA, or a fan-boy psychiatrist to prescribe him Adderrall or Valium. Going this route is yet another risk posed to Johnny's (or anyone else's) recovery program.

Good Luck, Johnny.

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