As you have probably read by now, Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia announced he is entering rehab for alcohol treatment in a statement he released on Monday. I thought I would try to give a little bit of a different take on the matter. I was originally going to do something similar with Josh Hamilton but, to be honest, I was pissed at the way the Angels handled the situation and decided it would be best for me and BTTP if I didn’t write an article out of anger.
I have worked in a treatment center and I have friends that deal with this disease on a daily basis. I’ve seen first hand what battling addiction and alcoholism can do to people, and the devastation it can cause that person’s family. In the last month and a half I’ve dealt with two wonderful people who relapsed and tragically passed away from this disease. That’s why I applaud Sabathia for going public. It’s something that’s hard to do in the public spotlight. Knowing that you’ll forever have that stigma surrounding you for the rest of your career. Few have been so brave.
I’ve met many famous people in my line of work from movie stars, writers, and athletes (who I will not name to keep anonymity) who battle this disease. I’ve also met doctors, lawyers, police officers, and homeless people who battle this disease. What I’ve learned in my time in this field of work is that drug addiction and alcoholism is the most politically correct entity in the world. It doesn’t care about your color, race, bank account, career, public status, and… you get the point. It treats everyone the same and without mercy.
I don’t blame people for saying the ignorant things said in the media (cough, cough, Michael Kay) and Twitter. They will never fully understand the intolerable sensation of craving that every substance abuser feels while in the middle of their disease. When all you can think about is when you can take your next hit or drink. The feeling of when you finally get that hit or drink and that good sensation takes over, until you come to and try to figure out what the hell happened the night before and wonder how the hell you got home.
Eventually problems and bad situations arise in every substance abuse user’s life. The ironically weird thing is that they are usually the last to know they have a problem even though the signs of bad choices and decisions are as plain as day. Like Sabathia partying and getting robbed at gun point, or seconds away from getting into a bar fight. Who’s to say how his family life has been like or if he’s ever pitched hung over. There comes a time in every substance abuser’s life where they hit “bottom” as they say. It could be the possibility of losing a job, family, home, or life. Sabathia has hit his bottom and one or all of the above has made him seek a change in his life before things spiral out of control. There is a saying in recovery that “you never truly hit bottom until the ground’s on top of you.” So maybe something happened where he said enough is enough.
It would explain the struggles Sabathia has had on the field too. I’m not talking about weight or physical declines that, in some opinions, could be factors. They could be right, or wrong. He hasn’t fully been the same since recovering from knee surgery, but people’s bodies react differently to substance abuse so it’s hard to say. The one thing I can speculate on is his mental state. A lot of people with substance abuse are masters of wearing a mask. They are the type of people who will smile in your face, tell you everything is all right, but are secretly dying inside. Battling that internal struggle and feeling of helplessness for not being strong enough to handle this himself, and the demoralization of feeling truly defeated. These are tough feelings to go through for a person with a non-public job, let alone a once dominant and high-profile athlete such as Sabathia to go through.
One thing that Sabathia has that some players have not been so fortunate to have (take notes, Arte Moreno), is the way the Yankees seemed to have handled the situation. They seem to understand that this is a serious matter with potentially life and death consequences. As Yankees GM Brian Cashman put it, “He needs to tag out of this situation, which is a lot of pressure, and really step back and get the professional help necessary. He’s not alone in this.” No, he’s not alone. In fact, the National Treatment on Drug Abuse had an article stating that in a survey taken in 2013, “17.3 million Americans (6.6 percent of the population) were dependent on alcohol or had problems related to their alcohol use (abuse).”
I’ll end this with the best quote of the day which came from Yankees manager Joe Girardi when he said, “I hope it gives courage to other people to step up that maybe aren’t going to have all the media attention, but (their) life is just as important to their family and children…”Next post: Evaluating the 2015 Season Preview Predictions
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