For nearly 25 years, I played golf competitively. I loved (and still do) all aspects of the game. The discipline, the smell of the grass, the camaraderie, the competition, the friendships, the beauty of each course.
Watching golf was a family affair. The US Open, The Masters and The Open Championship were tournaments that we watched ALL the coverage… and then the analysis of the coverage.
I had my favorite players over the years; Fred Couples, John Cook, Sergio Garcia, Bob Tway, Seve and Ben. I pulled for the “old guards” and the up and coming rookies.
I watched amateur golf, too. I watched, in complete amazement, the domination of Tiger Woods. My Dad would say “you may not see another player win like Tiger wins in your lifetime. He is really special.” I agreed.
Tiger brought an excitement and fevered pitch to a game that can be slow…and perceived as boring and for the wealthy. He made it an accessible and tangible sport for many. He developed foundations and made golf exciting with each and every tournament he entered.
I remember the TIGER WOODS fallout and drama in 2009. I was newly sober and uncovering and discovering things about me; my behavior, my desires, my fears, my relationship to alcohol and drugs. I remember feeling pained for him. I hoped that he would find something that would restore him, give him peace, find solution for himself. Over the last 8 years, I have found solution and peace and recovery. Apparently, that has not been the case for Tiger.
This morning, I was flipping through my social media news feeds and saw that Tiger was arrested for DUI. What prompted this writing were the responses to some of those posts:
“How does someone THAT rich NOT have a driver?”
“He should be thrown in jail!”
“Atta boy, Tiger! Booze, women, DUI… I can feel a Major Championship right around the corner!”
“We have all done it, don’t be so hard on him.”
“It says DUI, he could have been just taking his prescription drugs for backpain.”
These types of comments went on FOREVER. The level of ignorance and normalization that our country has embraced regarding addiction and substance abuse is astounding. And I suppose, that unless it affects you directly, you may not take the time to learn anything. I totally get it. I used to say/think those types of things regarding professional athletes/celebrities and their DUI’s.
Here are 9 things you may want to read and consider:
1. Alcohol and your brain: http://hams.cc/dopamine.pdf
2. 70% of people who have mental illness (depression, for instance) and abuse substance have experienced some level of trauma. Trauma is a type of damage to the mind that occurs as a result of a severely distressing event. Trauma is often the result of an overwhelming amount of stress that exceeds one’s ability to cope, or integrate the emotions involved with that experience.
3. Alcohol is an addictive substance.
4. Abuse of alcohol and drugs is NOT a moral / lack of self-will issue.
5. One modality of treatment does NOT fit all people.
6. Blaming, shaming OR condoning the destructive behavior is NOT going to help. https://youtu.be/qjyvRQFbseQ?t=13m07s
7. People do NOT have to hit “rock bottom” to change their relationship with alcohol and drugs. (When it comes to the idea of rock bottom, no other chronic *disease* (see point #8) is handled this way. A person with diabetes does not need to experience a foot amputation to understand the gravity of their disease.)
8. Addiction and your brain: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/how-addiction-hijacks-the-brain
Educate yourself. Be kind to others rather than sit in judgement. Tiger’s DUI is a teachable moment. Talk to your kids, your students, the team that you coach. Ask questions. LISTEN to the answers. Provide space for an open conversation WITHOUT fear of consequence. Addiction does not care about your race, gender, education or social class. We are all at risk if we don’t educate ourselves, so let’s stop the blaming, shaming and condoning and get to work on listening, supporting and finding solution.
This article was originally posted on Medium: https://medium.com/@jenyockey/blaming-shaming-and-condoning-oh-my-5fa46ccad55