Michael Phelps is back in the game. He’s going to his fifth round of Olympic Games, which he qualified for by dominating the 200-meter butterfly–a feat he called the hardest swim of his life. Phelps will be the first American male to attend five Olympics. This win was not just a victory in the pool, it was a metaphorical victory over his own personal struggles.
Phelps was struggling with alcoholism and drunk driving, but he decided to reach out for treatment. His story of strife and victory sends a positive message to young people grappling with substance use: It is possible. NPR recently covered his battle and story of overcoming.
Everyone has rough patches, even Olympic athletes
Phelps’ life seems perfect now: he’s engaged, he has a child, and he has tons of medals. It wasn’t always that way, though. He describes the large difference in him after being sober for a year:
“I see a complete change in my body. [I have a] completely clear head. [I] don’t have a headache which is really awesome sometimes when you wake up. I’m actually happy every day. I’m actually able to be productive every day. That’s something I’m very proud of.”
The six weeks he spent in a treatment facility in Arizona changed his life. He had struggled without the structure of swimming after leaving the sport for good–but now he’s sober, feels recovered, and is ready to take one last stand in the Olympics.
Sends positive message to those struggling with teen addiction
People all over the world–young and old–watch the Olympic Games. Many look up to Phelps, not just for his athletic accomplishments now, but also for his determination to work through his issues and overcome them. Those struggling with teen addiction are often looked at as young people doomed to repeat the same mistakes and become burdens. Phelps stands as a golden example of a young person being able to overcome their challenges–whether that’s alcoholism or teen addiction.
There’s a large stigma against getting help for issues like mental illness or addiction. The act of him seeking treatment and praising what it did for him can help others reach out for support, too. Hopefully, Phelps story of treatment will inspire those struggling with adult and teen addiction to come out and look for the treatment they need.
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Image Source: Flickr user- marcopako