Published On: August 25, 2016

A Champion’s Struggle: Michael Phelps’ Alcohol Addiction

Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian in history.  Early on in life, he was projected for greatness.  This year, coming out of retirement to participate in the Rio Games he increased his medal count to 28, 23 of them Gold.  Throughout his unbelievable swimming career, he set numerous world, national, Olympic records.

Alcoholism was lurking

Phelps has become a household name and with that, his life has always been under the microscope.  Over the past few years, it has surfaced that alcoholism was lurking in the background. The athlete was subjected to intense public scrutiny for his actions fueled by his addiction.

Back in 2014, the winningest athlete in Olympic history was arrested again for Driving Under there Influence (DUI). Along with the consequences of his alcohol abuse, Phelps said he was “in a really dark place,” and didn’t want to live anymore. He reflects, “At one point I felt like I didn’t want to see another day.”  This type of internal turmoil is what an alcoholic and drug addict endures in the grips of active addiction, living a life controlled by alcohol and drugs.

A champion’s pain

Even from what the world perceived as a man with tremendous accomplishments, Phelps could not find a kind word for himself.  “I still remember the days locked up in my room, not wanting to talk to anyone, not wanting to see anyone, really not wanting to live, and I was on a downward spiral; on the express elevator to the bottom floor, wherever that might be.”  Michael was living life plagued with hidden internal pain and turmoil.

Michael Phelps soon began to feel the walls he had built up start to crumble.  His inner-self did not match the champion he was on the surface.  He took the first step toward surrendering to his disease and checked himself into a comprehensive alcohol treatment center.  In many cases, those afflicted with alcoholism and drug addiction do not make it this far.

Michael’s 12 step recovery

Following his residential treatment, Phelps dove head first into recovery.  He followed through with an intensive aftercare program in his home state of Maryland and immersed himself in the 12 step fellowship.  He has learned to open his heart, mind, and spirit.  He has recovered from a seamlessly hopeless state of mind and body.  Today Michael Phelps can be gentle and kind to himself.  Today Michael Phelps is a free man.