Dylan Walker (left) Aaron Gray (second from right) and Jake O'Sullivan (right)
South Sydney Rabbitohs players Dylan Walker and Aaron Gray were moved out of intensive care yesterday as they continue to improve.
It was just as well Jake O'Sullivan stayed over at his friends' house on Monday night. He woke in the early hours of Tuesday morning to the sound of Aaron Gray struggling to breathe. O'Sullivan stuck his fingers down Grays throat thinking he was choking and when he noticed that Dylan Walker was also in serious trouble, he made a frantic call to 000.
Up to eight paramedics worked furiously to save Gray and Walker who had overdosed on painkillers for post-surgery injuries. They were rushed to St Vincent's hospital and placed into an induced coma.
The drugs were legitimately prescribed, not by a football club doctor, but by surgeons who performed their operations.
Rugby League legend Mark Geyer described how easy it is to get hooked on pain medication and when you don't need it anymore, you can't stop.
While playing with a Perth club in the mid 1990s, he had several knee operations in one year and after every surgery, he was prescribed Panadeine Forte - the strongest painkiller available at the time.
After a while his doctor told him he had to stop, he didn't need them anymore, but by then it was too late.
"It's kind of like having 12 schooners of beer but you cut straight to the chase but if you have 4 Panadeine Forte, in half an hour, you're basically there."
"....when the doctor told me I couldn't have them anymore, I went to the chemist and asked for the strongest over-the-counter painkiller they could give me without a prescription and they said it was Mersyndol. So I would buy two boxes which lasted me for two days, I'd have a box a day and eat them like Tic Tacs."
"After three or four months, my wife said 'Bud, what's wrong with you, you sit on the couch all day' and I said 'I'm having these'. She said 'why do you want painkillers?' But I was addicted to the feeling."
But Aaron Gray and Dylan Walker took an overdose of powerful painkillers that are available today - Oxycodone - a whole different ball game, compared to Panadeine Forte.
They call it Hillbilly Heaven because the effects are similar to morphine.
Oxycodone is prescribed by doctors to manage acute, chronic and cancer-related pain.
"It's no longer a question of whether it's a problem, it's well entrenched now, we know people are dying from this" said Dr Matthew Frei, clinical director of Melbourne's Eastern Health.
"Our horse has well and truly bolted."
Actor Heath Ledger died from an overdose of prescription drugs in 2008. His father Kim Ledger gave a speech recently about the deadly addiction that killed his son.
Australia has become a country of sports champions....and drug takers. We now take more recreational drugs than any other country in the world and nobody has a clue what to do about it.