Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon opens up about substance abuse and the road back to the NFL

CLEVELAND - It's been a long road to recovery for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon.

After spending years getting by on his talent and not facing the consequences for his drug and alcohol addictions, his mistakes finally caught up with him.

"I've used alcohol many, many occasions, Xanax many occasions, cocaine several occasions, marijuana most of my life, codeine, cough syrup, methazine. Very privileged where I'm from, it's what I grew up using. I've been enabled most of my life, honestly. I mean I've been enabled by coaches, teachers, professors, you know, everybody pretty much gave me a second chance just because of my ability."

Gordon, now 26, is getting back in the swing of things, training again and looking ahead to rejoining his team. After spending 70 consecutive days in rehab, he opened up about what lead to his decision to go to rehab and how he's been doing since in a 13-minute documentary by the all-digital sports programming network Uninterrupted.

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Gordon remembers back to a time when he was arrested for possession of marijuana while playing at Baylor University. He said one of his coaches told him he was going to get drug tested and gave him a detox drink to help him pass the test. 

When he first decided to go to rehab, Gordon looked at it as a publicity stunt and a business move, and he figured it was an opportunity for a vacation, to take a break.

Next thing he knows he's missing meetings with his team, missing games and prioritizing partying over the more important commitments in his life.

Then, Gordon was suspended for an entire year and everyone had an opinion on his habits, calling him a junkie and an alcoholic. But instead of cleaning himself up and getting himself together, Gordon thought, if that's what everyone wants me to be, then that's what I'll be.

Here he was, the leader in the NFL in yards receiving in 2013, and he only played five games in the 2014 season. Then, not at all in 2015.

Until, finally, he reached a turning point.

Gordon says he was wandering the streets one night looking for drugs. He was asking random people, knocking on smoke shop doors, doing anything he could think of to get "relief."

"I just began to have a flashback and remember all the negative things that happened in my life that transpired. Like, what led up to this point, how did it get this bad? It's so dark out here, I'm all alone, what the hell am I doing? I was scared. I was scared for my life."

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So, Gordon decided it was time to get serious about rehab. He says something clicked inside of him and he wondered why he was willing to throw away everything he had worked so hard for. He made the decision to invest in himself.

He says the whole experience has been brutally humbling and his ego has been considerably downsized.

"I need to live out my amends, you know, try and make right all my past transgressions and mistakes and, you know, show and prove that I can be a better person, a better man, someone that is accountable and reliable, because I kow what's on the other side of that, you know? You get an opportunity. I believe I can prove my worth."

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