'Wake up'

U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach opens up about years of substance abuse

Abby Wambach. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

In a new memoir hitting bookshelves on Tuesday, U.S. soccer star Abby Wambach opens up about years of struggling with substance abuse. Wambach, the nation’s leading goal scorer in international play, tells readers in the book that she abused drugs and alcohol for years, and always hid that fact from the world. “I was stubborn and I was in denial,” Wambach told The Associated Press in an interview.  “I didn’t want to face the truth.” But she was forced to face the truth in April when she was arrested for DUI in Portland, Oregon. That was a turning point, Wambach writes in Forward, a memoir in which she’s forthcoming about a range of aspects of her extraordinary life. She’s also completely forthcoming about the range of substances she’s abused over the years. Vodka, Vicodin, Ambien and Adderall were substances of choice the now retired soccer star says she indulged in over the years. She has also admitted to using cocaine and marijuana. Wambach said the arrest was humiliating and the public shame forced her to face her demons.

“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 AP. “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.” She added that the end of her soccer playing days and figuring out a new direction in life amplified her substance abuse issues.

Wambach ended her illustrious 15-year career last October after President Obama honored the women’s team for winning the World Cup. Her 184 goals are the most ever by any U.S. soccer player — male or female. In the book, she also opens up about her tumultuous marriage to Sarah Huffman, also a soccer player, whom she’s currently in the process of divorcing. Wambach and Huffman kissing right after the U.S. clinched the 2015 World Cup turned into one of the most viral and memorable moments of the sensational victory.

Read the full story at The Associated Press.

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