Even if you take the Richmond Football Club’s explanation at face value, the troubled Ben Cousins’ latest flirtation with disaster proves that he still uses substances as a crutch. And he probably always will.

In intensive care - Ben Cousins. Picture: Andrew Brownbill.

Following a profile on Cousins in GQ last year, I wrote that he was still in the grip of his addiction and despite all the hype about his new clean image.

He offered a throwaway remark in the interview that he could still “have a few beers” and had learned to “drink differently.” Rubbish.

If you have a pattern of three day benders like Cousins, it’s all or nothing. Ask Andrew Johns.

Perhaps the greatest league player of all time will never recover from the racism scandal in which he finds himself. Johns wrote a book about his bipolar disorder but was sucked back into the big-drinking NSW team bonding sessions.

It was in this context that he referred to perhaps the best current league player in the world, Greg Inglis, as a “black c..t.”

Cousins’ hospitalisation may be exactly as his club says - a severe reaction to a legal sleeping pill.

But the question remains: with his background, why does he need pills to “come down” from the high of a victory over the Swans anyway?

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    • marley says:

      08:35pm | 05/07/10

      People with addiction issues shouldn’t be taking “sleeping pills.” Period.

    • Tim says:

      09:23pm | 05/07/10

      Sorry Luke,
      There are many obvious reasons why a player may need to take a sleeping pill, not least of all to aid recovery.
      Just because he used to abuse drugs doesn’t mean he still does.
      I think i’ll wait for a few more facts before passing judgement and so should the kneejerkers in the media.

    • martinX says:

      02:59pm | 06/07/10

      Sorry, Tim, but it sounds like Cousins has a problem.

      “It has been suggested that Cousins took caffeine tablets before the match against Sydney on Sunday, and drank a number of glasses of red wine following the match, before taking sleeping tablets that night.”

      He sounds like an “all-or-nothing” guy. For the sake of his health, he should choose “nothing”. A great football career doesn’t help if your dead.

    • BK says:

      09:32pm | 05/07/10

      If I had to run as far as an AFL footballer I’d sleep for a week.

    • Fog Badger says:

      09:55pm | 05/07/10

      Unfortunately it seems that he’s in denial regarding his drug addiction. His club has been very kind in their handling of this episode. I hope he gets himself well.

    • Wayne says:

      11:55pm | 05/07/10

      The man does seem to have some very serious issues around drugs.
      It’s impossible for me to imagine what kind, and how many, “sleeping pills” he must have taken.
      To be in Intensive Care in an induced coma, it can’t get more serious than that. The very fact he’s in Intensive Care means he is fighting for his very life right now.
      Whatever his faults, I hope he wakes up, and wakes up whole. And I hope he opens up about what happened - however humiliating - that others will listen (and they will) and learn from him, so something good might come from this mess.

    • Stella says:

      12:01am | 06/07/10

      Far out - it’s none of anyone’s business what pills he takes or doesn’t take!  What right do we have to pass judgement on Ben Cousins?!!  This is a private matter and has nothing to do with anybody else whatsoever.  His life is NOT ours to dissect and to judge.

    • martin says:

      08:34am | 06/07/10

      Correct Stellaaaaaa
      however 90% of what is reported in the media is exactly the same - private matters, had a look at a womans day or new idea, like ever, its all private matters and generally untrue anyway

    • Jenni says:

      11:11am | 06/07/10

      Nice to see someone else on the same page as me. Has anyone in the media ever heard of a little thing called ‘privacy’? And don’t give me that rubbish about people like Cousins “opting” to be in the limelight. He *opted* to play a game for a living, it was the midea who made him a ‘celebrity’ and I use the term VERY loosely.

      One could argue that those in the media have, themselves, ‘opted’ to be in the limelight - shall I sit outside your front door with a camera, Luke? Wait until i catch you at a weak point and publish the details for everyone to judge you?

      Even if Cousins *is* misusing prescription drugs, what the hell business is it of yours/ours? It is *possibly* the business of the Tigers as his employer, but that’s as far as it goes. Everyone else should just leave him the hell alone.

      Oh, and I go for Sydney Swans (before anyone accuses me of being an Eagles or Tigers fan, and therefore biased).

    • Arnold Layne says:

      12:28pm | 06/07/10

      As long as what he is taking is legal then I agree with you Stella.  However the matter itself ceased to become private once he was admitted to hospital.  Footy fans in general, and Richmond fans in particular, are entitled to know that one of their players is sick and in hospital.

    • km says:

      02:42pm | 06/07/10

      Stella none of anyone’s business what pills he takes or doesn’t take????
      What if he kills some innocent person? God for bid: one of your family members on there way home from work? Or a child crossing the road after school? Grow a brain, This is our business.

    • Jenni says:

      01:21pm | 07/07/10

      @ km - wow, thanks so much for enlightening me on the dangers of a grown man taking prescribed medication in the privacy of his own home and then falling asleep in his own bed - you’re right, this monster should be locked away for endangering the safety of the public and - omg, the children!

      won’t *somebody* think of the children?

      ps - in case you missed my sarcasm (given your obvious high level of intelligence) - you’re a douche.

    • Moggy says:

      12:23am | 06/07/10

      He’s tested at least three times a week so get off his case all you friggin’ know-all armchair experts. Every AFL player must be very sore after a big game & I for one don’t think it’s at all odd that any of them would need help in sleeping if they’re in pain from over stretched muscles. I have an incurable muscle disease that’s rather painful at times & I often need help in getting to sleep. Talk about being judged & hanged before the trial!

    • Z says:

      09:51am | 06/07/10


      Players put their heart and soul into games and after a night game going to sleep would definitely be an issue. I just play low-level basketball, and I still take pills after late games so that I can get to sleep before 3 and be able to wake up for work the next day. Adrenaline, stress hormones, testosterone, etc, are all highly elevated after competetive sports, making sleep a near impossibility for many.

      And that’s my crappy low level of basketball, not a couple of hours of elite level football which would have near infinitely more impact.

      It’s so easy for ignorant people to judge. How about demonstrating some concern instead of your moral elitism.

    • Muttley says:

      12:13pm | 06/07/10

      wow. What a fantastic stream of excuses. Dont forget to throw in troubled childhood, all those unfair expectations on him….. Poor little pet. I suspect the prejudgement may have something to do with the addiction to hard drugs and his speedy re entry to the AFL. My god, if the stint in rehab cant teach him not to mix alcohol and sleeping tablets then he really is slow.

    • Bob Harris says:

      07:22am | 06/07/10

      I am not trying to pass judgment on Ben Cousins, but I think from his old habits he should be steering away from all drugs. Instead of taking caffeine tablets to help build up his stamina to put in a good showing in the game should be stopped, as these will also help him stay awake, so from stopping one drug will also help him from taking another to help him to sleep. But when you mix this with red wine you are asking for trouble long term, you could possible take this for a short amount of time but then when you take it the next time you are in trouble, through no account of your own. I was a long distance transport driver for over 40 years and had a reaction to a penicillin tablet, all it was I came out in red spots and my GP said that this would be the last time that I could take this drug because I could take it again for a number of times but then for no reason finish up in hospital in a bad way. So Ben this could be your warning stay away from caffeine tablets and for another the so called pick you up soft drinks and I wish you a speedy recovery and tell all of the knockers to go to hell.

    • martin says:

      08:39am | 06/07/10

      its good you were not trying to pass judgement there Bob. My advice next time you start off a comment that way, stop and do something else because all comments are passing judgement just as this one is on your inability to not pass judgement but trying to appease your conscience by stating the opposite

    • Stephen says:

      07:45am | 06/07/10

      Caffeine, alcohol and sleeping tablets, yep, sure looks like Cousins has overcome his addiction to drugs.

    • Tim says:

      09:25am | 06/07/10

      Ah but Stephen,
      society says those drugs are good mmmkkkaaay.

    • Muttley says:

      12:10pm | 06/07/10

      oh well, if society says its ok then….dont think it may have been a bad idea for a recovering addict then Tim? Oh its ok because he’s an AFL star. Think again, mmmkkkaaay…......

    • No win win. says:

      08:10am | 06/07/10

      So many problems, so little time, so much money. We know what ruined Ben Cousins.
      We are all out own worst enemy.
      Men are men. Boys will always be boys.
      I have no sympathy for big name jerks. Why give them headlines?

    • just wondering says:

      09:11am | 06/07/10

      Is there a reason the girlfriend called the Club first BEFORE she called an ambulance for her boyfriend?

    • Arnold Layne says:

      12:24pm | 06/07/10

      Yes.  He’s Ben Cousins.

    • Kate says:

      03:17pm | 06/07/10

      Going by the news reports, she called the club when he was still asleep and she realised he wouldn’t be awake and ready in time to make the 9:30am recovery session scheduled for Richmond players.

      She was then apparently unable to wake him, became afraid, and got the club doctor involved. The club doctor would have an intimate knowledge of Cousins’ health. It’s much the same as when people with a health complaint phone or visit their GP before going to the hospital. Makes sense to me.

      The media storm surrounding this case is another reason why hospital may not have been her first choice - imagine if he’d just been a bit tired and had absolutely nothing wrong with him, but the couple still would have had to put up with hundreds of media reports about ‘Ben Cousins raced to hospital, blah blah former drug addict’ etc.

    • Carl Palmer says:

      09:29am | 06/07/10

      Luke, as of last night there was only speculation, no details were released even to Ben’s family. Furthermore, if you’d watched “On the couch” last night you would have found the answer to your question.

      As a Swans supporter Ben played out of his skin on Sunday and it was terrific to see him play so well. He played a pivotal role in grinding a huge win for the Tigers.

      Keep up the good work Ben, under difficult circumstances you have made enormous progress. Hang in there.

    • Jenni says:

      01:24pm | 07/07/10

      Carl - from one Swans supporter to another, I agree with all of your comments. (On a more selfish note, couldn’t he have put himself out of commission BEFORE our game last Sunday? LOL)

    • Stephen says:

      10:13am | 06/07/10

      Tim,  society may say those drugs are good in general, but when combined over a short period by a “recovering” drug addict? I doubt whether society would be so accomodating in this case. He is supposed to be a role model for young, up and coming AFL players. Not much of an example I think!

    • Tim says:

      11:10am | 06/07/10

      And that’s why “society” is full of retards Stephen.
      What Cousins did, thousands of people would have done on the same night- minus the bad reaction to the sleeping pill.
      Just because he used to be drug addict doesn’t make what he did any worse.
      He had a bad reaction to prescribed medication - end of story.

    • Muttley says:

      12:07pm | 06/07/10

      yes it does Tim. He needs to be EXTREMELY careful around any type of drugs, and mixing sleeping pills and red wine is NEVER a good idea, especially for a recovering addict. The thousands of others you mention are fools, doubly so if they are recovering addicts.

    • Tim says:

      01:16pm | 06/07/10

      Unless you are Ben Cousins’ doctor how do you know what is good for him or not?
      You do know what prescribed medication is don’t you?

      Or do you just base you view on, you know, the vibe of the thing.

      He used to be addicted to illegal drugs, therefore any future reaction he has to legal drugs must be a result of his past addiction? Is that your argument?

      And for the record I don’t even follow AFL.

    • martin says:

      02:49pm | 06/07/10

      oh stephen stephen stephen, no he is not ‘supposed’ to be a role model for anyone, he is supposed to be exactly what he is, just another bloke makng his way through life, because he happens to play a popular sport the responsibility of being a role model is pushed onto him by the media, if he were never written about then he would never cast a bad image so if he fails as a role model, or succeeds for that matter it is all down to the way he is presented by the media. there is more news in saying he has fallen than suggesting he is an angel

    • ToWhit says:

      02:53pm | 06/07/10


      As someone with long standing sleep issues (I’ve been to sleep clinics etc) and have in the past been prescribed very strong sleeping pills - I know how these things work.  If you are actually prescribed sleeping pills - the reason those pills are only available on prescription is that they are bloody dangerous if not used exactly as prescribed, and their placement on the drug schedule (most prescription sleeping pills are schedule 8 drugs so they are very potent) demonstrates this.  You have to be counselled by your doctor about the impacts of the use of the medication.  By denfinition any prescibed sleeping pills irrespective of the name/generic nature of the drug are highly, highly potent.  Misuse of prescribed sleeping pills - and any halfwit knows that mixing alcohol of any quantity with prescription sleeping pills is misuse - is courting disaster.  If Ben Cousins has had a few glasses of wine, plus caffine tablets, plus a few sleeping pills, then this is clearly heading into dangerous use territory.  Yes, some people may be able to pop a couple of sleeping pills and down a bottle of wine.  But the very nature of sleeping pills when prescribed means that if you mix alcohol of any quantity with them then you are really asking for trouble.  Ben Cousins status as an AFL player is neither here nor there.  However, he has undergone drug rehabilitation, presumably part of this involved being educated and acknowledging the dangers of any drug taking behaviour (it doesn’t have to be addictive behaviour - but rather drug taking in general) and how he needs to manage this process.  If, as reported, he has combined, both caffine tablets, wine and sleeping pills, then clearly his rehabilitation has taught him nothing.

    • Tim says:

      04:02pm | 06/07/10

      To Whit,
      once again you’re assuming things.
      You don’t know the type of medication he was taking or it’s potency. I think I read he may have been taking Temazepam but that is not certain.

      I’m pretty sure that the team doctor would know exactly what the players are taking before game (caffeine) and afterwards (sleeping tablets). It is common practice among footballers (of all codes) to do this. It is nothing new. Obviously the team doctor doesn’t have a problem with it.

      Now mixing this with alcohol may not be the smartest idea but the usual reaction from doing this is greater sedation and deeper sleep.
      Just because he had a bad reaction doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
      And just because his name is Ben Cousins doesn’t mean anything either.
      I’ll wait for further information before making further judgement.

    • Nathan says:

      10:30am | 06/07/10

      Geez, this writer’s a genius. ‘Following a profile on Cousins in GQ last year, I wrote that he was still in the grip of his addiction’ ... what a scoop, Cousins admits he is and will always be an addict so congratulations on printing what is common knowledge.

      ‘But the question remains: with his background, why does he need pills to “come down” ’ ... umm, possibly to help him get to sleep. I agree that Cousins would be best advised to stay away from all foreign substances, but questioning why a player who has probably taken caffeine and would be absolutely revved up after a great win might need assistance getting to sleep is disingenuous at best, painfully ignorant at worst.

    • Steven says:

      10:30am | 06/07/10

      Like Z, above, I played rec league basketball for around 20 years and when you play a 10.30pm game, it was very difficult to sleep afterwards.  You replay the game in your head, win or lose.  You’ve just had a good run around with your mates and the adrenalin is still buzzing around in your body.

      How much harder, then, would it be for someone playing our most competitive and physical team sport at the elite level?  Especially after a game like the Tigers played on the weekend.

      I’ve heard that this is a problem for a lot of AFL footballers and that many of them will take a pill after a night match so they can aid their recovery by actually being able to get some sleep.

      Counsins’ background with drugs and alcohol obviously gives him some sensitivity to this sort of thing, but by all reports it was a prescribed medication. 

      Kneejerkers should indeed get off his back and just feel concerned that this man with both incredible talent and an incredible spirit is laid up and in some sort of danger.

      I’m a Carlton supporter but I love watching blokes like Ben play because they leave it all out there, week after week, for their team mates and for the jumper.  It why his team mates all love him, despite his demons.

      Get well, Ben.

    • speeking4urself says:

      10:48am | 06/07/10

      “If you have a pattern of three day benders like Cousins, it’s all or nothing. “

      rubbish. - been there, done that. what you say is simply wrong.

    • Dr Wannabe says:

      11:52am | 06/07/10

      Dear Dr Luke,

      I will do you a deal, I won’t tell you how to edit a newspaper, as I have no experience in it.

      In return, would you please be so kind as to not opine as to what medical interventions are needed on drug addicted sports stars, and leave that, to what I expect, are a team of qualified experts?

      Excellent,  Ta.

      Fellow Punchers in the comment sting, who are treating Mr Cousins, please stand up. The rest, who think you can comment on what meds he should take: shhhhh, it is time for your kindy nap.

    • Bryan says:

      12:04pm | 06/07/10

      Luke, you comments are at best uninformed and at worst quite silly.

      I would strongly suggest that you have an informed talk with a suitably qualifed medical professional to get a thorough understanding of causes and effects, especially in Cousins’ case.

    • KM says:

      12:21pm | 06/07/10

      Your comment:
      Im am very cynical when it comes to Ben Cousins. He fool them all, and I still remember the staged managed interview he gave on grand final day. I didn’t believe a word he said… and I believe he is still abusing when he knows he can get away with it.

    • Ducks says:

      12:35pm | 06/07/10

      My reading of today’s news article was that they were prescription sleeping pills. Therefore prescibed by a doctor who would be well aware of his past substance abuse problems.
      But by all means you must know better. After all you’ve read a few articles on recovering drug addicts and therefore have the right to pass judgement on how they live for the rest of thier lives.
      Nobody’s perfect. But I would tend to believe the person who is the most qualified, in this case the doctor rather than someone with no background on the issue.

    • glen says:

      01:39pm | 06/07/10

      I’d like to see an investigative journalist research and produce an article on ‘Masking Agents In the AFL’. How else can a confessed acddict of recreational drugs never be caught in the web of the AFLs best practice doping code?

    • stephen says:

      02:08pm | 06/07/10

      I hope he sorts things out. He’s a top player.

    • Kate says:

      03:14pm | 06/07/10

      Many footballers use caffeine and sleeping tablets before and after matches, and not just at the top AFL level. My boyfriend and his friends, all local footy players, take No-Doz before a game and often need either sleeping pills or a few beers in order to sleep that night. I play night games of netball and after an 8pm game, sleep is virtually impossible until quite late at night. Your body just produces so much adrenaline that it’s hard to shut down.

      Presumably Ben Cousins wanted some sleep because he knew he had to be up the next day for a 9am recovery session, as is customary with AFL teams. Anyone can have a bad reaction to prescription medication and the fact that he’s Ben Cousins doesn’t make this any more or less remarkable.

    • Trevor says:

      05:53pm | 06/07/10

      I find most of the media reporting on this story deeply insulting.  From putting ‘sleeping pills’ in quotes to referring to Cousins’ past issues (including drugs charges that were dropped), it’s all a way of saying “it’s Ben Cousins, therefore it’s all about drugs”.

      Well no, it’s not.  Not unless everyone who partakes of caffeine is a drug addict.  Not unless everyone who takes a sleeping pill is a drug abuser.

      There is no reason why the identity of the player involved is relevant.  A discussion about the dangers of caffeine tablets and/or sleeping pills, for ANYONE, is fine.  Whereas a discussion about Ben Cousins being ‘still in the grip of his drug addiction, and here’s the latest piece of evidence’ is an extremely unpleasant way to treat a man who has just had a serious medical emergency.

    • Skid says:

      02:22pm | 07/07/10

      But when you overdose on sleeping medication (which he admitted today that he did), it clearly is about his approach to drug taking.  It wasn’t a mixture of booze/caffine and sleeping pills, it was an overdose plain and simple.  The fact that the drugs were legal is not the issue, it is the fact that this bloke seems unable to appropraitely manage drugs of any kind.


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