Los Angeles Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton, who has battled drug addiction during the course of his baseball career has reportedly met with officials from Major League Baseball concerning a possible relapse.
CBSSports.com has reported that Hamilton confessed to those officials of a binge that took place a few months ago which included cocaine. No confirmation of this has been noted by anyone connected with the Angels, though his father-in-law was quoted as saying Hamilton “hit a bump in the road, keep him in your prayers.”
Hamilton had surgery performed on his right shoulder on February 4, which was going to keep him off the field until May. Instead of undergoing physical rehabilitation at the team’s spring training facilities, Hamilton was allowed to begin that process at a friend’s ranch.
Hamilton was the top overall pick in the 1999 Major League Baseball Draft, and received a $3.96 million signing bonus from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now known as the Rays.) Within seven years, that amount had dwindled to $85,000 due to repeated drug use, with Hamilton saying that he went to eight different rehabilitation centers from 2003-05.
In between, the usual struggles of trying to advance to the major leagues, injuries and some unexplained absences eventually led to Hamilton being suspended from baseball from 2003-05. The bottom was reached in October 2005, when reportedly tried to commit suicide.
His estranged wife, Katie, who had recently given birth to their daughter, had thrown him out of the house due to his continuing drug problem. She and Hamilton were married in November 2004.
Hamilton played in 2006 in Tampa Bay’s minor league system, but after the season, was exposed to the annual Rule 5 draft, where the Cincinnati Reds selected him. After playing one season with them, he was traded to the Texas Rangers on December 21, 2007.
During his five years with the Rangers, Hamilton’s career took off, as he was selected to the American League All-Star team each year, and led the team to two World Series appearances. He won Most Valuable Player (MVP) accolades after the 2010 campaign and was also named MVP in that year’s League Championship Series.
However, during this period of success, he twice had relapses related to alcohol: the first in January 2009, and then three years later.
Going in Different Direction
Still that run of success led the Angels to sign Hamilton to a huge $125 million, five-year contract in December 2012. Due to the large amount of money involved and Hamilton’s past history, he was required to undergo three drug tests per week.
While Hamilton had been clean prior to this apparent relapse, his play on the field has suffered during his time with the Angels. He’s received severe criticism for his average statistical numbers, which likely ratcheted up the pressure on him to live up to his large deal.
The Numbers on Cocaine and Relapses
Cocaine addiction continues to be a major problem in the United States, with 25 percent of adults age 26-34 (Hamilton is 33) having tried it at least once. Approximately 75 percent of those who try cocaine become addicted to it.
One study found that cocaine relapse rates occurred just under 62 percent of the time, with only alcohol and heroin having higher rates among addictive drugs. Even if those numbers are slightly lower, the rate is still an imposing total that continues to affect not only those addicted, but their family and friends as well.