Maradona stumbles away from cocaine and into alcoholism
By Carlos Castillos Mar 30, 2007, 10:45 GMT
Buenos Aires - Former Argentine football star Diego Maradona appeared firmly on the way to recovery from his addiction to illegal drugs, particularly cocaine, but new signs appeared in recent months that something was not quite right.
Maradona, 46, was admitted to the Guemes hospital in Buenos Aires late Wednesday for an 'imbalance' which was 'not related to an addiction to dangerous drugs,' a preliminary hospital statement said.
The excessive intake of alcohol along with an equally immoderate consumption of food and cigars are among the causes of the 'imbalance,' the hospital and the former player's personal doctor, Alfredo Cahe, have said in no uncertain terms.
'Alcoholism, in Maradona or any other patient, is something serious: you have to treat it. Alcohol is a drug,' hospital spokesman Victor Pezzella said Thursday.
Cahe has pointed to Maradona's 'entourage' as a crucial obstacle to his full recovery, and said frequent travels abroad to play exhibition matches alongside other former Argentine football players favoured a lack of control over his diet, leading to the current crisis.
'He is sedated because that is necessary for medication required to avoid alcoholic withdrawal symptoms,' Pezzella explained.
Pezzella stressed that Maradona did not use 'other dangerous drugs,' and underlined that 'the presence of cocaine has been ruled out.' However, he said Maradona was again overweight and was smoking too many Cuban cigars.
Maradona has battled cocaine addiction in the past and underwent a stomach-stapling operation in 2005 to help him lose up to 50 kilogrammes of weight.
Maradona's condition was 'stable' but he was being kept in the clinic for 'several days' for observation. Doctors have said they will have to wait 48 to 72 hours to see the patient's progress and measure some key parametres, although they insisted that Maradona shows no severe heart problems and that 'no elements in his body are failing.'
'He is evolving, although he will remain in the hospital several days, and his life is not endangered,' Cahe said.
'Some weeks ago we had already studied the possibility of signing him into the hospital, but Diego got up and left,' the doctor said.
He said that Maradona had put on a lot of weight, and indicated that there are plans for the former player to go to Switzerland 'for 10 or 15 days' to get himself back into shape.
Cahe said family problems had triggered his patient's latest health crisis.
'Diego was feeling pretty down because of family problems, which I'm not going to go into. He had some serious things that he couldn't deal with and that had got him depressed,' Cahe said.
In 2000, Maradona was hospitalized with a severe heart problem while vacationing in Uruguay and tested positive for cocaine before undergoing drug rehabilitation in Cuba.
Four years later, he spent 10 days in intensive care with heart and breathing problems.
Argentina's 'Golden Boy' led his country's team to the 1986 World Cup title in Mexico but was banned in 1991 from the game for 15 months after failing a drug test.
He tested positive again for banned drugs at the 1994 World Cup in the US and retired from competitive play in 1997.
Maradona's latest crisis does not look as bad as previous bouts, which had him hanging dangerously close to death.
After his medical problems are solved, the football legend's doctors and family will have to see how they go about redirecting the course of a man who stumbled onto alcoholism on his way out of cocaine abuse.© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur