Michael Phelps Seeks Treatment for Substance Abuse Following DUI Arrest
Just as with any mental health issue, those who deal with addiction or substance abuse issues deal with a fair amount of shame and stigma. But the recent story of Michael Phelps’ arrest and treatment shows, anyone can struggle with substance abuse and there is always help available.
The 29-year-old Olympic record-breaker was arrested for his second DUI early Tuesday, with a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit according to police reports.
Following the arrest, the winningest athlete in Olympic history announced over Twitter that he would be entering a six-week program to get “the help I need to better myself.” His representatives have since confirmed that Phelps has entered an in-patient program that will prevent him from competing at least through mid-November.
Phelps’ has struggled with substance abuse rather publicly, having been previously arrested for drunk driving at the age of 19 and being photographed smoking marijuana months after his record-breaking Olympic performance. However, there is no indication he intends to let these speed bumps end his career in swimming.
“The past few days have been extremely difficult,” Phelps said in a statement. “I recognize that this is not my first lapse in judgment, and I am extremely disappointed with myself. I’m going to take some time away to attend a program that will provide the help I need to better understand myself.
He added, “Swimming is a major part of my life, but right now I need to focus my attention on me as an individual, and do the necessary work to learn from this experience and make better decisions in the future.”
Phelps previously retired after the 2012 Olympics in London, but returned to competition earlier this year in hopes of making the 2016 Rio Games. Now, Phelps is prioritizing recovery over his next Olympic bid.
While most who experience substance abuse don’t have it play out in public like in the case of Michael Phelps, they may be familiar with the feelings that they may be letting others down or struggling with relapsing. But, substance abuse is one of the most widespread health issues around the world and effects individuals of every status and those who face it should not feel ashamed to seek help.
If Michael Phelps takes recovery seriously, this may just be a small set-back on his path back to the Olympics. But, without treatment it could end his career and could potentially take his life or someone else’s should he continue drinking and driving.