Richmond are unsure when Ben Cousins will play in the AFL again as he spends the night in intensive care in hospital after a bad reaction to a sleeping pill.
Richmond are worried about the health of their veteran midfielder, whose turbulent career took a new twist on Monday morning when he could not be roused after taking a prescribed sleeping pill on Sunday night.
Cousins’ girlfriend contacted the Tigers when she had trouble stirring the 32-year-old.
Club club doctor Greg Hickey examined him and he was sent to Epworth Hospital by ambulance.
Night spent in hospital
Cousins will spend Monday night in hospital sedated and under observation, with Tigers unable to say when he would be released or when he would play again.
“His condition won’t really be known for the next 24 hours,” Richmond football manager Craig Cameron said.
“That’s concerning, for sure. We’re worried about his health.”
Cousins is a recovering drug user, but Richmond said there was no suggestion the latest incident was linked to the player’s troubled past.
“We’ve got no suspicion that there was anything illicit involved,” said Cameron, who added any amount of alcohol Cousins
consumed on Sunday night was “not excessive”.
Cousins helped steer Richmond to a memorable comeback win over Sydney at the MCG on Sunday.
He was said to be in good spirits after the game and Cousins spent a quiet night with his girlfriend.
Richmond could not say how many pills Cousins took, their brand, or whether he had used them previously.
Pills use ‘not unusual, nor common’: Doctor
But Cameron said it was not unusual for Cousins to take a sleeping tablet to help him “come down” after games.
Dr Hugh Seward, the executive officer of the AFL Medical Officers Association, said the use of sleeping pills was not widespread across the league, but certainly not new.
“It’s not unusual, but I wouldn’t say it’s common,” Seward said.
“It’s the sort of thing where a player would probably discuss with their club doctor if they have problems winding down after a night match or if they travel interstate out of their normal environment.
“They’re the two situations where it’s difficult for some players to get to sleep.”
Seward said although he did not know the circumstances of Cousins’ situation, it was not uncommon for people to experience an adverse reaction to a drug they had not taken before.
Monday’s drama provided another chapter to Cousins’ rollercoaster career, which included the highs of winning the 2005 Brownlow Medal and 2006 premiership with West Coast.
But his drug use and off-field behaviour led to him being suspended by the league for the 2008 season, for bringing the game into disrepute, before he was sacked by the Eagles.
Richmond threw Cousins a lifeline when they recruited him for the 2009 season, although he experienced hamstring troubles in his first season with the Tigers.
He also undergoes regular drug testing, given his past troubles.
Cousins was treated in the Epworth for abdominal pain and inflammation before the 2010 season began, but Cameron said that was unrelated to Monday’s drama.
Cousins has played 25 games in his two seasons with Richmond for a career total of 263.