Steve Sarkisian: The name has taken on a much different meaning in recent days than it did before last week’s game, or last football season. Thanks to 24/7 news cycles, he now represents something larger than a football coach, perhaps a poster adult for alcoholism. But thanks to contemporary compassion and the ready availability of addiction treatment, what on the surface might have seemed to be a career-ending defeat for USC’s now-deposed football coach could ultimately result in a personal triumph.
Alcoholism is like any other form of addiction in that it is a progressive disease that gets worse as time goes on. Contrary to popular belief, alcoholism and addiction do not solely arise as a result of bad choices and poor moral character, but is an actual disease. Battling alcoholism is an uphill struggle if you’re attempting it alone, but with the right help and treatment, anyone can overcome their addiction. Treatment is readily available for those in need, as well as intervention with professional help, because sometimes friends and loved ones need a little help to recognize that they have a problem.
In the spotlight of one of America’s football factories, Sarkisian’s problem became very public. In August 2015 there had been a booster event which Sarkisian attended; apparently inebriated, slurring and cursing for all to hear, he had to be pulled off the stage. Sarkisian quickly explained that he had mistakenly combined a little alcohol with a prescription medication. This was followed by reported erratic behavior on the sidelines of the Trojans’ game at Arizona State in September, and then on Oct. 11, the coach’s failed to show up for practice.
That afternoon, after learning why Sarkisian was AWOL, USC’s athletic director announced he had told the coach to take an indefinite leave of absence. “It was very clear to me that he is not healthy,” Haden said somewhat cryptically. The following day, USC announced that Sarkisian had been terminated, using language stating he had failed to live up to his contractual obligations.
It was a sudden fall for Sarkisian, who was an assistant at the school during USC’s glory days a decade ago and was hired in 2014 to restore the magic.
Almost concurrent with his dismissal, investigative reporters tracked down a history of Sarkisian’s drinking habits during his previous stint as Washington’s head coach – receipts and expense reports indicated he was responsible for thousands of dollars in alcohol at hotels and resorts, beer and booze off- and on-campus. Some former players and associates at Washington expressed no surprise, recalling incidents dating as far back as 2009, where Sarkisian would sometimes arrive to morning team meetings smelling like alcohol with bloodshot eyes. Other players reported having smelled alcohol on the coach, noting his eyes to be glazed and bloodshot, and he was particularly confrontational. The list goes on.
Amid the dirty laundry there was a silver lining. Some journalists, displaying reassuring humanity, preached in this case wins and losses could not, should be more important than a man’s well-being. Having been to task for possibly ignoring Sarkisian’s drinking initially, USC’s athletic director and president and staff dutifully fell in line after the dismissal and explained, yes, it was important for the fallen leader to “get healthy.” His players, assistant coaches, the football fraternity overwhelmingly offered support for him to find treatment, to find himself.
Less than 24 hours after he lost his job because of a drinking problem, Steve Sarkisian checked himself into a Southern California residential treatment facility.
While it’s unfortunate that things had to spiral out of control before he sought help, such is often the case with any form of addiction. Sarkisian is lucky in that he realized his situation and has committed to getting rehab.
Often alcoholics and addicts don’t recognize when their life is spinning out of control. Despair is not the answer. If you or a loved one is suffering from substance abuse, help is available. Intervention is a possible solution and there’s even with professional help, and there are many treatment centers to suit the needs of every individual. Pick up the phone and call (866) 578-7471 today to get the help you need to start living for a better tomorrow today.