Australian Athlete Fights his Way Back After Methamphetamine Addiction

matthew micham book methamphetamine addictionA courageous young man has published a book about his trip to the very top of the Olympic diving world, Australian Matthew Mitcham. In 2008, Matthew executed the highest scoring single dive ever seen at the Olympics. He got four perfect-10 scores on a back two-and-a-half somersault with two-and-a-half twists, a phenomenally difficult dive.

You can watch that dive here, if you wish: It’s truly stunning.

It was a dive that enabled him to take the gold medal home. Ironically, after the Olympics, he did not get rated as the number one diver by an international ranking organization, he was ranked number two. He saw this as a failure and along with existing personal problems he had long struggled with, he sought out methamphetamine as an escape.

Australians are big on stimulants in general so it’s not terribly surprising that he might choose that particular drug. Stimulants are shipped to Australia from Southern Africa, Southeast Asia and Eastern Asia, global manufacturing centers. One-quarter of the methamphetamine laboratories dismantled in the Asia-Oceania area were in Australia, according to United Nations statistics. And in 2011 and 2012, amphetamine-type stimulants were the second-most common drug sending people to rehab in the country.

Coming Back from Meth Addiction

Mitcham managed to fight back from his addiction to meth before the trials for the 2012 Olympics but he failed to make the team. Did the damage he accumulated from his time spent addicted contribute to his failure? This is one of the harshest, most physically damaging drugs on the illicit market.

His book is called, appropriately, Twists and Turns. If you do watch the video of his winning dive, you will see just how appropriate this title is. It also describes his route to the top, down through the devastation of meth addiction, and then back up to competition again. The pressure at the top of the athletic ladder must be unimaginably intense and many of these athletes are quite young when they reach that level of competition. I admire him for making it back to his sport.

He continues to train for competition. I root for anyone who comes back from addiction, so hopefully he shows up on the world’s athletic stage once again as a medal winner.