Darren McCarty had a problem with the bottle.
The longtime NHL enforcer was an alcoholic. On Nov. 11, 2015, his blood pressure was spiking and his liver was about to explode. His addiction to beer and Jack Daniels led to four stints in rehab, ended two marriages, and was threatening to take his life.
"For me, growing up, you were either a jock or stoner, so I never smoked pot growing up, but I've been drinking since I was 12 or 13 years old. That was acceptable in the hockey circles, it's just culturally what was accepted,” McCarty told Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press. "So I would always say no to pot, until after my first surgery in 1999. I was on all these pills, and it was driving me crazy. And I'm an insomniac, so I can't sleep, and that had a lot to do with all the drinking."
A friend suggested he try some marijuana and "something went off in my head and it was like my body said yes."
This 1999 incident didn't stop him from drinking to the point of collapse. So in 2015, several of his friends, including a medical marijuana caregiver who supplied him with weed, isolated him, and for a full week, gave him "gram after gram" of Rick Simpson Oil - a potent marijuana concentrate created by Simpson in 2003 to treat his skin cancer.
"I was in a coma and when I woke up after seven days, I didn't have a physical addiction," McCarty said. "I dropped to my knees and said, 'Thank God.'"
McCarty hasn't had a drink since, has lost 60 pounds, has quit smoking cigarettes, and is off most of his prescription medications.
"If you've seen my progress over the past 10 years, you've seen me go through different stages from the alcoholism, which led me to this plant saving my life," he said. "I feel like I’m 35. I'm not lying. I feel like Benjamin Button."
McCarty, now 47, is smoking pot every day, but doesn't believe he ditched one addiction and picked up another.
McCarty played 15 seasons in the NHL, winning four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings. The rugged winger racked up 288 points and 1,477 penalty minutes in his 758-game career. He's now partnered with a cannabis company called Pincanna.