Many people have heard of Michael Phelps struggles with substance use over the course of his Olympic journey. Phelps was struggling with alcoholism and drunk driving, but he decided to seek treatment. Now, Michael Phelps is back in the game. He’s on his way to his fifth round of Olympic Games, which he qualified for by exceling in the 200-meter butterfly—a feat he stated was the hardest swim of his life. Phelps will be the first American male to attend five Olympics. His qualification was not just a victory in the pool, but a metaphorical victory over his own personal struggles.
His story of strife and victory sends a positive message to adolescents around the world, struggling with substance use: It is possible. NPR recently released an article covering the story of him battling and overcoming his substance use.
Everyone Has Issues
After his treatment, Phelps’ life has blossomed. He’s engages, recently had a child, and has won a multitude of medals. His life wasn’t always this stable 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.”
Phelps spent six weeks in a treatment facility in Arizona, which he states changed his life. He had struggled without the structure of swimming after leaving the sport for good—but now that he’s sober and feels recovered, he’s ready to take on one last journey to the Olympics.
Building a Positive Message for Youth
The Olympic Games, is not just something watched throughout the U.S., it’s something people all over the world—young and old—watch and connect to. Many people look up to Phelps, not just for his athletic accomplishments, but for his determination to overcome his personal issues. Adolescents struggling with teen addiction are often looked at as burdens, who are doomed to continue to make the same mistakes later in life. Phelps stands as a worldwide example of a young individual being able to overcome multiple challenges—whether that is alcoholism or teen addiction.
With the large stigma against mental illness and addiction, many people don’t seek the help they need. Phelps act of seeking treatment and praising his process, is encouraging others to reach out for the support they need too. Hopefully, Phelps story will inspire individuals struggling with adult and teen addiction, to find the treatment they need to overcome their battle.