PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s been many years since Kevin Stevens took the ice with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But, now, the former all-star is still having an impact on the people of western Pennsylvania in a different way.
Stevens, part of the Penguins Stanley Cup championship teams in the 1990s, was one of the best players in the NHL back then. But, he says all it took was one split second decision to change everything.
“I made this 10-second decision to try this. I did, I went and tried it, and then for the next 22 to 23 years, it was different, my mind. I had the disease, I had the gene, and I hadn’t activated it yet,” said Stevens. “So I was 28-years-old, I never did anything, so I activated this thing with the cocaine, and I didn’t do it all the time, but the change, the chemistry, the way I thought and the way I perceived things.”
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Stevens started with cocaine but it led to painkillers and an opioid addiction after a knee injury playing for the Pens in 1993.
After that, things took a turn for the worse for Stevens.
“Once I left Pittsburgh, I got in trouble, and then they put your in rehab for a little bit, and you learn a little bit about the disease, but I was in total denial because I didn’t want to believe that this was happening,” he said.
Stevens was in denial for 23 years, and then he hit rock bottom, which might have saved his life.
“The thing that finally saved my life was I got arrested at the end,” Stevens said. “I went in jail for six days and I sat there and [said], ‘Should I take a left-hand or right-hand turn?’ And I took a right-hand turn and it changed my life. I found a different way to live; I found a purpose again. I didn’t have a purpose for a long time.”
And for the last two and a half years, Stevens has been clean.
“It doesn’t pick and choose, I’m an addict and I’m in recovery, which is the best thing about it,” he said.
Now, Stevens is helping others addicts and families through his “Power Forward Foundation,” which is working to combat the opioid crisis and addiction across the area.
For more information on the foundation, visit FamilyLinks website at this link.