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Underdog Former jockey opens up about horrific accident that led to painkiller addiction

After 4 months of rehab, Gráinne Power found herself again in GAA

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Gráinne Power of Kilmore Ladies Football GAA.

Gráinne Power of Kilmore Ladies Football GAA.

Gráinne Power of Kilmore Ladies Football GAA.

Former jockey Gráinne Power has opened up about her battle with addiction and the road to recovery.

The young woman from Kilmore, Co. Wexford appeared on Ryan Tubridy’s Radio One programme this morning where she discussed how an accident on a horse led her down a turbulent path of prescription painkillers and marijuana.

One morning in Kildare, Gráinne was preparing to go out with a group of fellow horse riders when her horse was playing up.

“I was trying to get him settled and whatnot,” she said.

“My girth wasn't fully tightened, so that's the strap that keeps the saddle on. He was just jig-jogging a bit and I went to tighten the girth and either I pinched him or something spooked, but he took off down the road.”

“So the lads that were with me, like they can't chase me because a horse chases a horse, it's going to drive them on faster. So the horse is going full belt down the road and they're wearing metal shoes on the road,” she explained.

“We came to a bend in the road and the horse, he lost his footing and he was going at such a speed, it’s not the horses fault, he didn’t do anything bad, he just spooked and ran like an aul scared dog.”

The Wexford woman, who is currently appearing on Underdogs on TG4 explained how she ended up breaking her eye socket, nose, shoulder, arm and leg.

“[He] lost his legs and went flying across the road and I hit my head, I got caught underneath him and I got dragged down into the ditch with him and so he was all disorientated and he stood on my leg getting out and that's what broke my leg.”

“It was a bit of a haze,” she said, detailing how she thought she was going to die.

“To be honest when it was happening... there's this weird calm that comes over you and you're like ‘ok, this is it, this is the end now, there's nothing I can do.’ I suppose you settle with yourself ‘ok I'm gonna die here’”

Gráinne was brought straight to Naas Hospital where medics immediately tended to her injuries.

“I was in a hell of a lot of pain,” she said. “I can remember the very first shot of morphine that ever went into my system, because within those split seconds it takes everything away.”

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Gráinne's recovery got complicated when she started relying on her medication after she missed a dose, telling Ryan: "I said, 'Well, I am due the next dose. I'll take the ones I missed and I'll take the next dose' and I took them together... a double dose, yeah. I kind of felt somewhat like it took all the pain away.

“There was a lot going on in my head, and for 2 hours, 3 hours, it took that away… it was an escapism.”

Gráinne soon began smoking weed to help with her sleep, recurrent nightmares and PTSD.

“I had a smoke, I fell asleep, it was the greatest couple of hours having a sleep. All these things were starting to become the solution almost.”

“When it’s prescribed by your doctor you dont think youre doing anything wrong. When all this was going on, I knew I wasn't right, so I kept wanting to change myself,” she told Tubridy.

The promising young jockey moved to Donegal for a fresh start but soon found herself back in her old habits.

“I thought I could start afresh, but like any true addict , once it's in you, you'll find it again on any street corner,” she admitted.

She went to rehab in Wexford for four weeks and after spending two weeks at home with her family, she headed to Cork to spend another three months in recovery.

"I didn't know who I was, my identity was gone. My identity was gone and all I knew was I wasn't who I was, mentally, I didn't know who I was going forward..."

Gráinne then got into GAA with her club in Kilmore, and is currently starring on Underdogs, a TG4 show that takes footballers and trains them with top coaches for six months to take on an inter-county team.

The show airs on TG4 on Thursday nights at 9.30pm.

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