For nearly 10 years, Reuben Droughns fought hard against some really tough defenses. As a running back in the National Football League, Reuben picked up extra yards through heavily guarded defensive lines while dodging hard-hitting linebackers, all in the pursuit of the winning touchdown. Through four NFL teams in seven seasons, he smashed and got smashed while racking up more than 3,500 yards and 19 touchdowns over the course of his career. Oh, and he also earned a Super Bowl ring with a 2008 New York Giants win over the New England Patriots.
Today, Reuben can most often be found picking up his toddler while dodging Legos on the floor, all in the pursuit of good parenting. But when he’s not enjoying time with his wife, Emily, and three kids (with another one on the way), Reuben serves as an athlete ambassador for the non-profit Athletes for Care, an organization founded by former professional athletes who use their influence to improve global standards of health, safety and quality of life in athletics.
A key focus of the group is educating the public about the scourge of opioid addiction, as well as disseminate information around the benefits of plant-based medicines for the treatment of chronic pain and other sports-related ailments. For many professional athletes, retirement comes with a host of medical conditions resulting from years of punishing physical extremes. For Reuben, that means managing chronic pain throughout the day that can also create sleep disturbances at night.
“Like a lot of people, I began using alternative medicines when I was much younger purely for recreational use at the time” Reuben, 41, said. “But after a while playing in the league, it was one of the only things that kind of relaxed me and helped relieve the pain of playing such a demanding sport.”
As more states started to decriminalize (and eventually legalize) the medicines, Reuben began investigating how it could help him live a pain-free life after football.
“I started getting all the facts about the different types of products and ways you can use it,” he said. “I wanted to become more specific as to how I was going to micro dose.”
Ten years after retirement, Reuben uses plant-based medicines on a daily basis to manage his pain and ensure he gets a good night’s sleep. Without it, he’d be hard pressed to keep up with his energetic kids during the day, he said. He uses “nearly every kind” of the products available – everything from loose leaf to concentrate and topicals to edibles.
“It really does a good job of helping me get to sleep at night,” he said. “It puts me right down where before I would only get about three or four hours of sleep. I’d be tossing and turning all night because of the pain.”
Instead of falling to sleep at three or four in the morning, Reuben is able to drift off at a more reasonable hour like 10 or 11 p.m., he said. His wife appreciates that her husband gets the rest he needs, and his kids love that Dad is happy, comfortable and ready to play during the day. While he might not be hitting the field anymore, Reuben is able to do the important things.
“Just playing and hanging out with my kids,” he said. “Being able to spend time with them and do a few things here and there. I can pick up my little girl or roll around on the floor with her, of course depending on my pain level.”
His doctors also recognize the benefits Reuben is receiving from the plant-based medicine therapy. After examining a routine brain scan of the former NFL star, Reuben’s neurologist told him to keep using the medicines.
“He said they are definitely helping, not hindering, my health,” Reuben recalled. “To be honest, I’d say about 80 percent of former players use it, if not 90 percent. They’re starting to realize its benefits and how it can help you.”
For years, Reuben has been a vocal advocate for the liberalization of plant-based medicine regulations in the National Football League. The addictive nature of opioids troubles him, as does their easy availability throughout the league.
“I’m a firm believer that the NFL should allow their players to use [alternative medicines],” he said. “It gives players an opportunity to take care of themselves and not worry about becoming hooked on pain pills.”
Reuben believes the Gofire Health Suite will be a huge benefit to proponents of plant-based medicines, particularly those just beginning to investigate the medicines. The ability to know exactly what you’re putting in your body is a very appealing benefit of the Gofire App, he said. And the ability to accurately dose your medicines makes the difference between finding relief and feeling out of control.
“I think it’s a smart idea and a great way to identify the products you’re using. It truly has helped me become more familiar with a lot of different products,” he said.