“I love baseball and I love my teammates like brothers, and I am also fully aware that I am leaving at a time when we should all be coming together for one last push towards the World Series. It hurts me deeply to do this now, but I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right. I want to take control of my disease, as I want to be a better man, father, and player.”
~New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, the night before the 2015 American League wild-card playoff game
A few years ago, CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees, a former All-Star and winner of the CY Young Award, shocked the sports universe by publicly announcing that he had a drinking problem and was checking into an alcohol treatment program.
Because of recent incidents, there was already a strong suspicion that Sabathia was struggling. But there were two things that made his announcement so startling.
First, there was the completely open way that he admitted his problem. Sabathia didn’t try to deny his drinking or make excuses, like so many other celebrities when their addiction went public.
Instead, Sabathia, a 15-year veteran, refreshingly took full responsibility. In his statement, he said, “Being an adult means being accountable. 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. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart, and be the type of person again that I can be proud of.”
Second, there was the specific timing of Sabathia’s announcement. The next day, the Yankees were facing the Houston Astros in a one-game playoff. The winner would advance, and the loser would be eliminated. Season over.
Because this one game was so important, the Yankees were going to start the 35-year-old Sabathia. And if they won, he was the workhorse of their pitching staff. This meant the Yankees were going to rely on him heavily moving forward in the playoffs and hopefully, the World Series.
Sabathia’s Recovery was Bigger Than Baseball
The day after Sabathia made his announcement, the Yankees played without him ad lost the game. Their 87-win season was over.
But do you know what happened next?
In New York City, where baseball is virtually a recognized religion and the “Bronx Bombers” are the most famous baseball team in the world, no one blamed CC Sabathia. The support for his very personal-yet-public admission was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone on the team, within the Yankees organization, the media, and even the fans pledged their support, admiration, and understanding. They praised Sabathia for his courage.
Brian Cashman, the Yankees’ General Manager, said that, “I think CC’s demonstrated a great deal of courage in trying to tackle this problem. Time and place have no bearing. There is something here that needs to be taken care of, and I applaud him for stepping up and doing everything necessary to solve this problem for himself as he moves forward.”
“When someone comes to you with the issue that he came to us with and said that he needs to get help and he needs it immediately, that’s the only focus.”
The Need for Courage during Recovery
“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.”
Any one who is in recovery from addiction needs plenty of courage, both as the move forward and in their everyday, sober lives.
As part of their successful recovery, they need the courage to spend time taking a hard, honest look at themselves and their actions. This is the opposite of their actively-addicted past, when there was little time left for self-reflection.
They need the courage to take responsibility when they hurt or have hurt others, now and in the past. Again, this is the complete opposite of their old, actively-addicted way of doing things, when they simply would blame their problems on someone else.
They need considerable courage when they try to make amends to those people they harmed in the past. This is completely different than their former mindset, when they would use alcohol and drugs without a second though about the consequences of their actions.
Most importantly, they will need courage when they are actively clean and sober, instead of actively addicted. Rather than constantly relying on other people – a spouse or partner, their parents, another relative or close friend – to clean up their messes, they assume full responsibility for their actions and words.
Quitting Isn’t for Quitters
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
~ Walt Disney
Real recovery means understanding that addiction is a lifelong disease. And while it cannot be cured, it can be managed. Successful sobriety means staying away from self-destructive thoughts and behaviors. Sometimes, it requires choices that seem hard, but are necessary to safeguard sobriety, sanity, and serenity.
Staying away from people, things, places, and thoughts that jeopardize recovery is hard. Every sober day requires commitment and hard work. But here’s the truth—it’s easier than suffering a slip or relapse.
It’s all worth it.
When you are no longer held back by your addiction, you are set free to become the very best person that you were meant to be. You can enjoy a healthy, happy life, and have stable relationships that aren’t warped by substance abuse.
And here’s the best part—you don’t have to be brave ALONE. If you live in Southern California, Chapman House Treatment Centers is your best resource to give you the help and support you need. Since 1978, Chapman House has been there for individuals and families in crisis for addictive or mental health issues.
To take that first, brave step on the road to recovery, contact Chapman House TODAY.