SYDNEY - Australian swimming great Grant Hackett has left rehab after seeking help for an addiction to sleeping pills and says he learned a lot during his time in treatment.
Hackett, who won the 1,500m freestyle at both the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and claimed four world titles in the event, fled to the United States in February, days after he was pictured half-naked in a hotel lobby looking for his young son.
He initially denied he had a problem but his manager and father both said he was battling a dependance on Stilnox, a drug used to treat insomnia that athletes are sometimes prescribed for sleeping difficulties before big events.
His admission for treatment came just weeks after fellow Australian swimming star Ian Thorpe sought help for depression after a mixture of painkillers and anti-depressants left him disoriented on a Sydney street.
"It just gets to a situation in life where you're not coping too well, and you need to put your hand up and ask for help - I certainly got to that situation," Hackett told the Nine Network at Los Angeles airport on Tuesday.
"I feel proud of myself that I had the strength and courage to do that, because I want to have a great and happy life ahead of me.
"I want to be a great father and I want to do all those things properly.
"Certainly what I've learnt over the past five weeks has put me in a position to do all those things a lot better."
Hackett's departure from Australia came days after he was photographed in the early hours with only a singlet around his waist in the foyer of a Melbourne hotel, searching anxiously for his four-year-old son.
The former great, 33, retired from the pool in 2008 and has worked for the Nine Network and Westpac Bank since then.
But his reputation took a huge hit after he trashed his apartment in an alcohol-fuelled rampage in 2011 that saw his wife Candice Alley leave him. They have two young children.