Former AFL star Brock McLean has revealed he relied even more on illicit drugs in his post-football career because he felt ‘worthless’ without the structure and buzz of football. ‘AFL.
The midfielder, who played 157 games in his 11-year career with the Melbourne Demons and Carlton Blues after being fifth-choice in the AFL Draft in 2003, previously revealed he struggled with bulimia and drug use during his successful career.
In the wake of Saints player Sam Fisher accused of drug trafficking, McLean was refreshingly honest in an interview with 3AW’s Neil Mitchell on Tuesday, saying many AFL players are struggling to adjust to life after football.
McLean has previously spoken about battling bulimia and excessive drug and alcohol use during his playing days, and he said life can fall apart for many once they leave the rat race of the AFL.
“For a lot of players who leave the game, that feeling (of walking on AFL pitch) is almost irreplaceable…drugs are certainly an avenue that former players go down to try and recreate that high, but the problem is that it does more harm than good,” he told Mitchell.
“My drug use got so bad when I finished playing because I didn’t have that structure…
“Without that sense of self worth, which is what the AFL provided me with, I felt worthless and treated myself accordingly. I mostly used cocaine and ecstasy.
“I got to a point in my life where I was tired of doing the same thing over and over again and I contacted the AFL Players Association (AFLPA) and said I needed help and that I wanted to speak to a professional.
“They put me in touch with a psychologist who I still talk to to this day, and they still pay for each session.”
McLean said he had been seeing a psychologist since retiring from the AFL, with sessions paid for by the Players Association.
The revelations come after former St Kilda star Sam Fisher was charged with trafficking commercial quantities of illicit drugs after a raid on a Melbourne property last Wednesday morning which saw detectives seize methylamphetamine, from the 1 ,4-butanediol and a Mercedes-Benz.
Fisher opted not to appear when his case came up in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, with his lawyer saying he had opted to remain in custody, and the case was adjourned until August 10.
Former St Kilda great Sam Fisher has been charged with smuggling large commercial quantities of illicit drugs
The news prompted Fisher’s longtime St Kilda teammate Nick Riewoldt, now a top commentator, to wonder on Fox Footy program ‘On The Couch’ if there was enough to help players. to make the transition to life after the glitz and glamor of AFL football.
Riewoldt said he approached the AFL Players Association (AFLPA) with his concerns about Fisher, but received a belated and inadequate response. The union reportedly gave Fisher some support, but the details are protected by confidentiality provisions.
St Kilda player-turned-commentator Nick Riewoldt says not enough is being done to help players transition to post-AFL life on Fox Footy
Riewoldt said the level of support for players leaving the AFL system is one of the biggest issues facing the league and the players’ union, saying “enough is enough”.
“There aren’t a lot of Sam Fisher-type incidents that we hear about now, but there are a lot of players falling through the cracks,” he said on Fox Footy.
“We know that when players leave the game, there aren’t enough fully-fit player lives.
“It’s not about feeling sorry for the players. It’s about trying to avoid a situation [like Sam Fisher].
“You might not feel sorry for the players, but I don’t think anyone wants to see this sort of thing happen again. Because someone’s life is ruined and a family is picking up the pieces.
“What I would like to see is for the AFLPA to say, ‘You know what? We’re going to own this. We’re going to stand up for that and no matter what, we’re going to deliver the best player transition program in the world,” Riewoldt said.
Former Saints captain Nick Riewoldt said more needed to be done to avoid another “Sam Fisher-type incident”.
McLean, also a former teammate of Fisher, had a slightly different view than Riewoldt and was keen to defend the AFLPA.
“From an outsider’s perspective, if you haven’t had a lived experience of mental health, it might seem quite simplistic to say ‘oh, the AFLPA needs to provide more resources,'” he said. he told Mitchell.
“In my experience, you won’t get better unless you go out and ask for help…you can have all the resources in the world at your fingertips, but if you’re not going to reach out main and use them resources, they are useless.
“I can understand where Nick is coming from and appreciate his concern, but at the end of the day if Sam, or any player, isn’t prepared to help himself, then all those resources are for naught,” McLean said.
Brock McLean played 157 games for Melbourne and Carlton over a decade at the top level
McLean, who has held various positions at the company since retiring, now works for psychedelic drug start-up Enosis Therapeutics.
He confirmed that he used psychedelic-assisted therapy to improve his mental health, as part of his holistic approach to health. Medications often associated with psychedelic-assisted therapy include lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and psilocybin.