Sometimes it is hard for me to believe how cunning an baffling addiction is. Addicted people are usually very smart, charming, and funny people. And this disease is complicated, indiscriminate, and vicious.

Oftentimes, addicted people are very high performing people. Excelling in school and career, family women/men, seemingly living the American dream. But lurking in the shadows is this awful monster and it is the one really in control.

This is a struggle I see a lot in people. They cannot understand how they do so well in so many areas of their lives, but when it comes to substances they will lose the battle every time. The story of Michael Phelps is no different.

Michael Phelps takes high achievement to a whole new level. A top athlete in the world, his sole dedication to his craft. Practicing hours every day for most of his life. True dedication and control. But just like every other person that struggles with substance, below the surface is an illness that will wreck your life.

One of the more confusing things about addiction also is how multi-faceted it is. This is not a disease that affects one system, or one organ, or one part of the body. This is a disease in the brain, in the body, and in the mind. I always feel this great sense of pride for those in the public eye coming forward and being honest about their struggles. I think it is so thoughtful to share your experience, especially with something that ignorance wants to shame you for. There is no shame here, for accepting who we are and accepting the challenge of a lifetime: to beat addiction.

Michael Phelps got arrested for a DUI in September of 2014, his second, and, shortly after a photo was released of him smoking “an illegal substance” from a bong. In the following days, he isolated himself in his home, having hit rock bottom, considering suicide.
At that time, Phelps claimed he was thinking,

“This is the end of my life… How many times will I mess up? Maybe the world would be better without me.”

It is hard to consider an Olympic athlete, at the prime of his sport, successful, driven, famous, hard-working young man could be thinking about suicide.

“I was a train wreck. I was like a time bomb, waiting to go off. I had no self-esteem, no self worth. There were times where I didn’t want to be here. It was not good. I felt lost,” Phelps revealed.

With help and support of family and friends, Phelps enter a rehab facility for a reported 45-day stint. He claims rehab and God have changed his life, definitely for the better. Since returning, he asked his long-time girlfriend to be his wife, they had their first baby, Boomer Robert, and he trained harder than ever for the Rio Olympics.

“You’re going to see a different me than you saw in any of the other Olympics.

I think we have already seen that to be true. Thank you, Mr. Phelps, for your courage and your strength, for your tenacity and your honesty. The recovery community will always be grateful for people brave enough to share their stories.