Alcoholism doesn’t discriminate.
Addiction does not care who you are, what you look like, how much money you make or if playoff baseball is starting the next day.
Once again, this ugly disease proved that statement true. On Monday, New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia announced he would forgo October baseball and check himself into an alcohol rehabilitation center.
Sabathia surprised everyone with this announcement, including Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. Cashman said he was notified about Sabathia’s decision in an “unexpected” phone call from the starting pitcher and others.
Last winter I wrote another column about Johnny Manziel’s battle with addiction and his decision to enter treatment. As I mentioned there, this issue is personal with me. This issue is me. I live in recovery from addiction every single day. Some days it is easy, some days it is not. And when public figures make the courageous step Sabathia just made, it gives me more hope.
The rhetoric on addiction needs to be changed. Currently, 85 million Americans are impacted by addiction, according to facingaddiction.org. That number is higher than the amount of Americans impacted by cancer. But all too often, addiction is not taken with the same level of seriousness as other diseases.
When a Sabathia, or a Manziel or a Chris Herren steps up and says “I have a problem,” a different perspective is taken by the public. Sabathia said it best in his statement released through the Yankees Monday.
“It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right,” Sabathia said. “I want to take control of my disease, and I want to be a better man, father and player.
“Being an adult means being accountable,” he continued. “Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids – and others who may have become fans of mine over the years – to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help.”
This announcement is not about baseball. What Sabathia is choosing to do, what many before him have done and many in the future will have to do, is about life and nothing else.
I never wish this pain on anybody. In my experience it will be the most difficult thing I will ever be faced with. I know that to be true for many others in recovery, as well. Unfortunately, people do feel this pain. None of those people, famous or just an everyday person, have the responsibility to parade their choice to seek sobriety to the public. But when they do make that choice – to let others in on their journey – they provide something more than any treatment center can ever give.
Sabathia’s road to recovery will not be easy – it rarely ever is. But I thank him for once again changing the conversation. This disease can affect anybody. The former Cy Young Award winner is just another example of that.
I will be praying for Sabathia’s recovery, and I hope the public takes this latest example to continue to understand this complex problem.
Alcoholism does not discriminate.
But neither does recovery.
Dennis Chambers is journalism major from Mullica Hill, N.J.. He can be reached at dennis.chambers@ student.shu.edu or on Twitter @ Dennis.Chambers_.