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Hulk Hogan Shares How He Got Sober After "Vicious" Pain Pill Addiction

The wrestler became dependent on pain medication after enduring 25 surgeries.

Considering that he's one of the best known wrestlers of all time, it's no surprise that Hulk Hogan's body took a beating during his career. According to a new interview with Muscle and Health, Hogan (whose real name is Terry Bollea) has undergone 25 major surgeries in the past 10 years, several of which were for his back. Because of this, Hogan began taking pain medications, which he says developed into a serious addiction.

Today, Hogan is sober from pills and is also no longer drinking alcohol. The 70-year-old WWE star explained to Muscle and Health how he kicked both habits and also shared what he is using instead to reduce pain today. Read on to find out more.

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Hogan said that taking pills became a "vicious cycle."

Hulk Hogan at the premiere of "Andre the Giant" in 2018
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

In his interview with Muscle and Health, Hogan opened up about his over two dozen surgeries and how the medications he was given to manage his pain started to negatively impact his life.

"I had doctors writing me prescription after prescription, and all of a sudden, it became a vicious cycle," he said. "I was hitting the pain pills hard because I'd had to endure 25 procedures, including 10 to my back, facial operations from being kicked, knee and hip replacements, and abdominal and shoulder surgeries."

Hogan explained that around five or six years ago he was in "crazy pain to the extent [he] couldn't even function," because of the series of back surgeries. He said he wouldn't have entirely healed from one before he would undergo another.

"I needed pain meds at that stage, that's for sure," he said. "But once things started to wind down, they continued giving me the same meds. It got to a point where I'd recovered from the tenth back surgery, and the pharmacy would call me and say, 'Your prescription's ready,' and like a dog chasing a bone, I'd go pick it up."

Post-surgery prescriptions can become addictive.

An orange prescription bottle with pills spilling out of it
Kimberly Boyles / Shutterstock

Hogan did not say what type of pills he was prescribed, but it is well-documented that pain medication prescribed after surgery can lead to addiction. This pipeline is part of what has contributed to the opioid epidemic.

"Opioids trigger the release of endorphins, your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters," Mayo Clinic states. "Endorphins muffle your perception of pain and boost feelings of pleasure, creating a temporary but powerful sense of well-being. When an opioid dose wears off, you may find yourself wanting those good feelings back, as soon as possible."

According to Mayo Clinic, "Anyone who takes opioids is at risk of developing addiction," and "opioids are safest when used for three or fewer days to manage acute pain, such as pain that follows surgery or a bone fracture." The website also notes that one should work with their doctor to safely stop taking opioids.

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Hogan knew he had to make a change.

Hulk Hogan at the VH1 Big in '06 Awards in 2006
s_bukley / Shutterstock

Hogan realized that he needed to do something to break the cycle.

"[F]inally, I just looked at myself and said, 'I'm not in pain. I don't need this. My body hurts from all the wrestling injuries, but I'm not in this excruciating pain that I can't live with.'"

He began using CBD (or, cannabidiol, which is a compound in marijuana). Hogan told Muscle and Health that taking CBD, which does not produce a high, helped him with pain and inflammation. He has now gotten into the CBD business himself. "I'm really focusing on helping people with their health, whether that's guys coming back from the war, hardcore drug users, or people who've got themselves into the prescription trap following illness or anxiety," he said.

Hogan previously explained to TMZ Sports how using CBD helped him get sober from pills. "It definitely helped me because as I said the slow walk back from the prescription drugs ended with me downing the Tylenol and the Advil and Aleves and finally even that wasn't working for me," he said.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, research, self-reports, and studies have shown that CBD may help with issues such as pain and anxiety, but it should be noted that are potential side effects and that most CBD products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

RELATED: The Real Reason Kelly Ripa Stopped Drinking Alcohol.

He also stopped drinking.

Hulk Hogan at WWE 20th Anniversary Celebration in 2019
Jerod Harris/Getty Images

Hogan also told Muscle and Health that he made the choice to stop drinking alcohol after attending a New Year's Eve party at the beginning of this year. He wrestler said that he "saw a bunch of stuff that [he] didn't condone or like," adding, "I saw myself in this environment, and I went, 'You know what? I don't know how I got here, but I'm done.'"

He added, "It feels much better to be so clear-headed. I'm no longer tempted to drink alcohol. I don't have an addictive personality. I mean, with anything. It can be business or people or alcohol or drugs. When I'm done, I'm done."

Hogan said that he's had some friends try to pressure him to drink, but that he's stuck with his decision. "I've had certain wrestlers look at me in the face and go, 'If you don't have a drink with me, you're not my friend.' Well, I am your friend, but I'm not going to drink with you. What are you going to do about it?" he said. "Sometimes wrestlers are a little intimidating. I have a lot of friends who like to party, but they no longer try to push alcohol on me."

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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