I recently reconnected with one of my volleyball "kids" from more than a decade ago, when Facebook seemed to almost randomly suggest her as a friend. Naturally I reached out, asked how life had been and such. I was surprised to find out that she was a recovering alcoholic, almost four years sober. She was spiraling out of control before that, not just boozing it up, but trying everything else as well. I wasn't surprised just because of her past, but because she was so forthcoming about it. Indeed, you can't get better if you can't recognize your addiction.
I've always been sensitive to alcoholism, in part because there's a fair amount of family history. This dramatically influenced me in college. My first two years, I almost completely avoided alcohol and situations where it might be found. It wasn't out of some concern of some moral issue, I just saw what it did to others. It really came to a head when my hall director (yes, the one that told my Indian staff-mate that he was going to hell), organized an off-site morale event for us. The primary goal of this was to drink, and I was not having any of it. Later he had the balls to reprimand me for the situation. I was complete angry about it.
That following summer, I had a number of "safe" opportunities to drink a little, and I kind of navigated the world of self-control and understanding my limits. I certainly had my share of drunken college nights, but I remember so vividly that I was always worried about making it a habit.
These days, I don't worry so much about it because my body gets a little pissed the day after I've had enough to tie one on, and I don't forget. In the coming years, I have to pass along my experience and concern to Simon, and hope he makes good decisions (and hope he doesn't have the genes). Even preventing addiction starts with recognition, and I think that helped me out.
As for my adult former athlete, she recently made a blog post that was honest in a way that I suspect few addicts can be, and I salute her for it. I can only imagine how hard her journey has been so far, but it's clear that people who help themselves get a lot more help from everyone else as well. That's what recognizing addiction can do.