Opinion: A call for help

Lucas Misera

Lucas Misera

Recently in sports, two major names stepped away from their respective teams. CC Sabathia, a pitcher for the New York Yankees and ex-Cleveland Indian, and University of Southern California head football coach Steve Sarkisian both stepped down after reports that each is struggling with alcoholism.

Sabathia’s addiction became apparent after a video circulated of the pitcher, clearly under the influence of alcohol, engaging in a shouting match with instigating fans. Sarkisian’s tendencies became a concern after news broke that he attended a USC pep rally intoxicated, and later reports indicated that he was also inebriated for a game against Arizona State.

In Sabathia’s case, he realized that he needs help and asked for it. Even with the Yankees on the verge of the playoffs, the pitcher asked to step away from the game in order to attend alcohol rehabilitation. Sarkisian’s fall was much less graceful; USC released the promising head coach after he recently attended a practice while intoxicated. Both cases are sad, but one thing has become clear: Nobody is safe from addiction, and taking care of yourself is key.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, nearly half of Americans ages 18 and older will drink within the next month, while seven percent of Americans will suffer from alcohol abuse. Sabathia and Sarkisian aren’t alone.

If anyone views either of these men as failures because of their illness, then society needs to work harder to bring the physiological explanations of addiction to the forefront. Not only do we need to take alcoholism more seriously, but conditions from drug addiction, depression and similar circumstances can no longer be associated with “weakness.” This is wrong, uneducated and blatantly inconsiderate.

According to the Kim Foundation, 26.2 percent of Americans have “diagnosable mental disorders” over the course of a year. The longer we continue to ignore a growing epidemic, the more people we turn away from rehabilitation. No, Sabathia isn’t a quitter for getting help. Facing a condition that seems nearly insurmountable is far more commendable than winning the World Series. Sarkisian isn’t a failure because he was fired. He is a victim of a devastating disorder.

Perhaps understanding that even star athletes are vulnerable to disorders such as alcoholism is a step in the right direction for society. For the younger crowd, learning that a New York Yankee can face problems far greater than baseball is humbling. For adults struggling with addiction or mental illness, Sarkisian’s fall from a college football powerhouse should act as a warning.

Nobody should fear seeking help. Life is short, but addiction can steal time, happiness or even one’s life. Sabathia and Sarkisian both need to get better, and I hope that their brave step away from alcoholism is motivation for nearly 17 million other Americans that have fallen victim to alcohol addiction.

Lucas Misera is an opinion writer for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].