U.S. Women's National Team

Wambach details alcohol, prescription drug abuse in new memoir

Photo by Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports

Photo by Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports

Abby Wambach is set to release a new memoir detailing her career, and the former U.S. Women’s National Team star’s look back will include some details of several darker moments in her professional life.

In her new book, “Forward”, Wambach says she abused alcohol and prescription drugs for years, leading to her arrest for driving under the influence back in April. The book, which is set for release on Tuesday, details Wambach’s use of vodka and pills, including, Vicodin, Ambien and Adderall leading up to her decision to go completely sober following April’s arrest. Speaking to the Associated Press, Wambach said she was “stubborn and in denial” prior to the arrest, as she struggled to admit wrongdoing or accept help.

Wambach’s memoir also opens up on several other moments throughout her career, including marriage troubles with fellow soccer player Sarah Huffman. Wambach and Huffman, who married in October 2013, are divorcing.

“That night getting arrested was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Because if I don’t get so publicly shamed and publicly humiliated, I don’t think I wake up,” Wambach told the Associated Press. “I think I was asleep for a lot of years. Asleep to the pleas from my family and friends, and even myself, to get help. So that night I was humiliated enough to wake up.”

“Not only was I hiding this secret from the world for so long, so were the people that I loved — they loved me so fiercely they wanted to protect me as much as possible, almost from myself. Sarah was definitely one of my saving graces because she was one of the first people in my life who made me aware of the problems that I was having,” Wambach said. “And this was years ago. This isn’t something that just snuck up on me when I retired from soccer. This is something I’ve been dealing with for years now.”

In addition to the lows, Wambach’s book is also set to discuss her career and her fight to battle back against labels throughout her life. The book features chapters titled “Tomboy,  “Captain”, “Lesbian, and even “addict”.

“It’s really hard to talk about things when you’re ashamed,” Wambach said. “And I’m not ashamed about what happened to me anymore because it led me to where I’m at right now. I’m proud of where I’m at.”

  • TheFrenchOne

    I’m all about extending grace and giving people second chances, so I’m glad to hear she is trying to deal with her addiction issues. But I do question the timing of her decision to go public with this; today’s announcement is clearly designed just to gin up some interest in her memoir.

    And although I haven’t had to battle addiction, I wonder if 5 months of sobriety (assuming she’s been successful since the accident) gives her enough distance to provide an honest assessment of her journey to recovery. Love her or hate her, there are probably some interesting nuggets about her soccer journey in that book. But i’ll just wait for someone’s review to get the highlights…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Old School

      Good post, French.

      Having personal demons and substance abuse problems isn’t anything I wish upon anyone, but when you actively put others (innocent bystanders) at risk I have great disdain for you – as I’ve posted at length regarding Wambach’s transgressions.

      However, I do applaud her for coming to terms with her addiction issues. Once an addict always an addict, so I wish her the best of luck on her daily journey to maintain sobriety. As you alluded to French, I hope Solo learns before it’s too late too regarding her well documented reckless behavior, too.


  • guwinster

    I wonder if Wambach’s drug abuse contributed to her decline as a player.

    Furthermore, I wonder if USSoccer knew something about her issues and ignored them for the benefit of the USWNT and its image as they did with Hope Solo.


  • bobbyoshea

    People in her demographic have a higher risk of mental health issues (depression, anxiety), suicidal ideation, substance misuse, and deliberate self-harm than other individuals. They are particularly at risk for substance dependence. If you are concerned someone you may know has a problem, don’t be afraid to directly ask them.


  • AMPhibian

    I just want to comment on the whole addiction aspect of this, because I don’t have a lot to say about the other stuff.

    And let me clarify here: She may have had better help than the help me or my friendly addicts have received. It’s more than likely, actually.
    However, I don’t think you can get shamed into not wanting that buzz/rush/high/escape. There is no waking up moment from something deeply ingrained and habitual. Perhaps she addresses that in her book, but from these quotes I’m left concerned for her self-awareness. In my limited experience addiction is not something you beat, but something you have to battle with every day, year, decade…

    For her to say that a singular moment changed her desires–and disability to ignore those desires–is difficult to take seriously. As an addict you make excuses, and then it all pours out, and you stall for a bit before you can find new excuses, and so on and so forth. It’s a process that never really ends, or it least doesn’t end in a thematic bang.

    Hindsight is 20/20 in most cases, but with substance abuse addiction there are caveats. I hope those are addressed in her book.


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