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What Incident Triggered Former OSU Coach Sean Sutton's Use Of Painkillers?

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Sean Sutton talking with Rich Lenz Sean Sutton talking with Rich Lenz
Picture of the prescription drug Percocet. Picture of the prescription drug Percocet.
Picture of Sean Sutton when he was OSU's head basketball coach. Picture of Sean Sutton when he was OSU's head basketball coach.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

If you think about it our country was founded on the principle of a "second chance." All Americans ask is; if you're granted one, make the most it.

In Part One of a two part series on Sean Sutton, that is exactly what Sean Sutton is trying to do.

"It's nausea, you sweat, you're cold, you feel like your skin's gonna crawl off. It's a, it's ah, a bad experience," said Sean Sutton.

Sean Sutton is describing his physical withdrawal from painkillers on the morning of February 11, 2010. A bad experience made worse by its timing and location.

"It was worse the fact that I was in jail and it was happening while I was in there. It's never a pleasant experience, I wouldn't, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. The withdraw from opiates," said Sean Sutton.

Sutton now admits he was his own worst enemy. He'd been busted on four felony drug offenses and was released later that afternoon with the assurance he would immediately enter a treatment center.

"Well, I made up my mind that night, and I didn't sleep at all. Inside the jail, you know, this is it, I'm done. But obviously the coming days I was extremely beat down, I felt a lot of humility, a lot of shame, a lot of guilt, you know, letting I entered treatment really beat down, ah, that was a broken spirit, a broken man," said Sean Sutton.

It did get better, thanks to a lot of hard work and soul-searching.

"I just thought about how everything in my life could have gone this wrong, this fast," said Sean Sutton.

Now a fulltime assistant to his brother Scott at Oral Roberts University, Sutton says his problems with drugs began following a devastating tragedy at OSU.

"In 2001, we had the plane crash and we lost ten wonderful people, ah, down the road after that I started to experience migraine headaches and that was the first time I was prescribed pain medicine, probably early 2002," said Sean Sutton.

Over the next five or six years, Sean Sutton was prescribed more meds to combat insomnia and lower back pain.

When you were living like that, did you feel like a fraud?

"Oh sure, no questions. I felt like I was living a lie and I think, the thing they teach you in recovery is you're as sick as your secrets and I had a lot of secrets," said Sean Sutton.

Sutton successfully hid his growing drug problem from his wife, Trena and their three kids. But that all changed when he was forced to resign as the head basketball coach at Oklahoma State University on April 1, 2008.

"You know, I started to cross the line, in the months afterwards that's where, eventually, I became trapped and became hooked and became addicted to them," said Sean Sutton.

Things spiraled out of control from there, culminating with his arrest in 2010.

Today Sean Sutton is doing great. He admits he occasionally has cravings but says he now has the tools to combat them and those urges go away in fifteen or twenty minutes.

"Today, I'm happier than I have ever been, my family is closer than it's ever been and finally I have my priorities in order. I love basketball, I love to coach but that's not the most important thing in my life right now, you know my relationship with God, my relationship with my wife and my kids and my family, you know, they're at the top and they're going to stay at the top," said Sean Sutton.

Related Story: How Former OSU Coach Sean Sutton Made It Back From The Darkness Of Addiction

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