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Athletes who revived their career in 2016 Olympics after battling addiction – 1: Michael Phelps

Addictive habit does not show any bias. One cannot claim that people of a particular class are more likely to abuse alcohol or have more weakness for drugs. The tendency to get dependent on any substance can be seen among any group, including sportspersons.

Cases of sportspersons trying to get rid of their pain caused by the use and misuse of substances is not new. Many of them have lost their glory due to abuse and addiction, but there are some who battled the scourge of addiction only to spring back and make a mark. One of the best examples of the victory over addiction is that of the legendary American swimmer Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time with a total of 28 medals.  

How Phelps realized perils of alcohol

Phelps, who ended his Olympic campaign with 23 gold medals from five editions of the Games, including the recently concluded Rio de Janeiro Games, has been candid about his addiction. He has admitted that he “didn’t want to see another day” during his long struggle against alcohol abuse. In the past, he has even shared his experiences related to his drinking habit, which even led to two cases of driving under the influence (DUI) against him.

Stressing on how drinking affected his life and career, Phelps said, “I think my mom was happy that I was alive because I think she saw the path I was going down.” The news of Phelps’s struggle to quit alcohol first came to light in 2004 after he was arrested for DUI. In September 2014, Phelps was charged with second DUI case after his subsequent arrest for drinking, following which he was suspended for six months by the USA Swimming.  

While most people are unable to give up their drinking habit, Phelps realized the futility of drinking and underwent a 45-day inpatient treatment session in Alcoholics Anonymous. He was desperate to kick alcohol out of his life. He attributed his drinking to personal problems, which kept on increasing over time due to absence of his father during his growing up years and family demands.

Athletes use substances to self-medicate

People often wonder what causes athletes to abuse substances in the first place. While some do it for self-enhancement purposes, there are others who use them to self-medicate the mental disorders they might be afflicted with. There are others who take drugs to treat pain or the stress that accompanies injury or retirement phase.  

According to guidelines, sportspersons are banned from participating in any tournament if caught using substances. Drug abuse ruins careers as well as lives of sportspersons and hence it becomes necessary to address the same through preventive measures, motivational techniques and most importantly, education. Though pharmacological interventions help, the understanding that addiction will only destroy plays a crucial role in relieving athletes of their addictive habit.  

Journey to recovery

Abuse of addictive substances has ruined many careers. Initial phase of substance use results in dependence. The same can also result in athletes being caught, exposed and debarred from competition.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly six Americans succumb to alcohol poisoning each day. As per the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), 16.3 million adults aged 18 or above suffered from alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2014.  

If you or your loved one is in the grip of an addiction, the 24/7 Recovery Helpline can help you find one of the best drug rehab centers. For counseling and support to tackle social factors that could contribute to an addiction problem, you can speak with one of our representatives at our 24/7 helpline number 855-441-4405 or chat online. Selection of the right program from various drug abuse treatment centers will ensure a long-term recovery.

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