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Surfing and Addiction

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Surfing isn’t all big waves and beautiful sunsets over the ocean. The free-wheeling surfing culture is inundated by a sinister tendency toward drug use and addiction, all the way from local surfers to the big-name competitors. But due to the insulating culture, many surfers don’t get help from addiction recovery centers.

Surfing’s preoccupation with drugs probably began with its counterculture roots in the 1960s and ’70s. Sharing drugs was a way to foster the community and camaraderie of surfers as well as a means of holding onto and reinforcing their anti-authoritarian image. And though today’s surfers aren’t necessarily trying to contest mainstream culture, drug use has persisted.

Drug use is particularly egregious in the higher levels of the sport. Kelly Slater, one of the world’s best professional surfers, says drug use is rampant, and compared the pro surfing scene to rock and roll in its heydey, when plenty of drugs were available on demand. As the pressures to perform and make a high salary mount, more and more pro surfers are using drugs to cope. But as stress rises, the culture remains lax, and many don’t go to drug rehab.

Like other professional athletes, pro surfers may turn to substances to help them perform better than their competitors. Drugs may help surfers deal with the anxiety of surfing big waves, recover faster from injuries, and be more alert or energized on the board. ASP, the competitive surfing body, now bans performance enhancing drugs, but pro surfers say that the testing is intermittent and ineffective.

The life of a pro surfer also lends itself to drug use. Tournaments and competitions are held all over the world, and surfers can become lonely in the never-ending cycle of traveling. Away from family, friends, and the familiarity of home, surfers are vulnerable to drug use and the trap of addiction.

And surfing isn’t without its tragedies due to drug use. Alone in a hotel room, Andy Irons died in 2010 from a drug- and alcohol-induced sudden cardiac arrest. One of the best surfers in the world, Irons was the latest in a long line of arrests, incidents, and jail time served by some of surfing’s greatest luminaries. And despite a fairly well-known drug problem, Irons didn’t receive treatment from an addiction treatment facility. Instead, his problem was ignored, he persisted in addiction, and eventually lost his life to the struggle.

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol or other drug addiction, please speak with Right Path Drug Rehab to learn about our luxury drug rehab program, where clients can recover on the sunny beaches of southern California. Our experienced and caring staff are qualified to treat dual diagnosis and offer supervised detoxification. During treatment, clients delve into the underlying causes of their addiction, participate in individual and group meetings, and develop sober communities of supportive peers and mentors. Clients leave treatment with the confidence and practical skills to fight cravings and maintain sobriety. Please contact us today to enter the next stage of your life, free from the hold of addiction.

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