Wife of Former NHL player Ian White Shares her family's terrible story of addiction

Published February 6, 2022 at 6:23 PM

The life of a professional hockey player is very often glorified in our culture and rightfully so, they often earn celebrity like status and the money that comes along with such status. But more and more we are learning that can be a double edged sword. There have been stories that are very dark when it comes to athletes.

On Saturday, CTV's W5 released a harrowing mini-documentary in which they profiled the post National Hockey League career of former NHL defenseman Ian White, from the perspective of his now estranged wife Tess White. In the documentary Tess reveals some truly horrifying details about what she witnessed when her husband was addicted to pain killers.

Pain killers, or opiates as they are also called, are highly addictive especially for athletes such as hockey players, when they're dealing with pain these drugs are there to help the player take that edge off. We have heard stories from former NHL players saying they were addictive, from that feeling you get when you first take one it's almost instant relief from pain.

Tess White would share some insite of what she had to go through while Ian White was addicted.

"He was a full blown drug addict, that's what it was," said Tess White. "We lost everything, our house, our cars and I walked away with just our children Grace and Pax and the clothes on our back and I've had to rebuild my life".

The nearly 15-minute mini-documentary is heavily critical of both the NHL itself and the National Hockey League Players Association as Tess explains "that she felt abandoned by both organizations as her husband entered a downward spiral, one that no one seemed to be able to stop or even slow down".

"Things truly took a turn for the worse after Ian suffered a deep cut on his knee during an NHL game, one that I believe heavily contributed to his downward spiral.
"It was the most disgusting cut I've ever seen. I could see his bone, it was sliced right open," said Tess. "They had to do surgery to repair some of the tendons, sew them back together. That was, I think, when everything changed because they put him on OxyContin and I don't know that he ever got off of them."

White's troubles with life got worse with his addiction troubles caused the law that would follow as a result of this addiction. Tess White said, "Even when he reached out to the NHL for help and was placed in a rehab facility it did nothing to help his addicition".

"He finally reached out to the NHLPA and they flew him to a rehab in Malibu" said Tess. "It was a disaster, he ran away. He tried to smuggle drugs into the rehab. He just didn't think he had a problem".

Unfortunately for the White family following Ian White's failed stint in rehab, things would continue to deteriorate for Ian as he sank deeper and deeper into his addiction.

"And then the drug use just kept getting worse and worse" said Tess. "So finally I convinced him to go to rehab and he was ready for it. I think at that point he knew."

This was a trip to rehab that the White family organized themselves and in spite of the fact that, according to Tess, Ian himself knew he needed help it did nothing to stop his downward spiral into drugs. Perhaps the most horrifying moment for Tess would occur when Ian got home from that particular stint in a rehab facility.

"He had an overdose in our kitchen" said Tess. "I just remember having to keep him alive. CPR for nine minutes and it was the longest 9 minutes. I just remember screaming at him, just begging him to breath and he just wasn't. His lips were blue, his ears were purple, he was just dead, he was dead."

You would think that a near death experience such as this one, especially one that so thoroughly traumatized the woman that you love, would have maybe been the life's miracle that would change things for the better for Ian White's life. Unfortunately according to Tess he was right back on the drugs the very next day.

"The next morning he had checked himself out, walked home barefoot, and went right back down to the basement and did drugs again," said Tess. "The Ian I knew, the Ian who was my husband, the Ian who was my kids' dad, he wasn't there anymore."

Tess is highly critical of the lack of help Ian and her family received from the NHL and from the NHLPA during this trying time in her life, but she went out of her way to make it clear that she doesn't hold them responsible for Ian's drug addiction.

"I don't blame anyone for where Ian is right now," said Tess. "I just think if there was more support earlier on I think we could of been in a different place than we are."

Sadly today Tess no longer has any contact with her husband and is working on rebuilding her life and helping other women who find themselves in situations similar to the one she experienced with Ian White.

The nearly 15-minute documentary has been made available to the public and you can watch it right here in the video below.

Credit: Hockeyfeed
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