Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, was arrested last week with his second DUI and had decided to enter a six-week rehab treatment program.
But does this mean the swimming champ has a problem?
Dr. Akikur Mohammad, medical director and founder of Inspire Malibu Treatment Center and the leading authority on drug addiction and treatment, shares with CelebZter his opinion on the situation.
Dr. Akikur Mohammad says: “Being in the public eye is especially hard when you are an Olympian like Michael Phelps. This is a man who has spent his entire life striving for perfection and being better than anyone else in his field. He has also been under a microscope since breaking records at the 2008 Olympics when he was still so very young. Until recently, he was planning on retiring from the sport that gave him so much but decided to come back and compete against much younger and possibly quicker athletes.
“I imagine that trying to be the same Michael Phelps that won so many fans from his early wins and the grueling training with an older body, plus the pressure to succeed has got to be overwhelming. These are the ingredients that can create a very disastrous situation if you already have an alcohol problem, which apparently Phelps does.
“While I don’t know Michael Phelps’ medical history, his pattern of criminalized behavior strongly suggests that he is more than just a heavy drinker. Most likely it’s not that he doesn’t want to stop drinking but rather that he can’t. The self-destructive, physiological cravings that an alcoholic experiences can only be managed through medical intervention.
“Alcoholism is a complex chronic disease with a strong genetic component that requires both behavioral and pharmaceutical therapies. While there is a role for 12-step, AA program for some patients, it should never be the exclusive or the focus of treatment. Let’s hope that Michael gets the kind of evidence-based therapy that he needs.”
Dr. Akikur Mohammad is a leading authority on drug addiction and treatment. He is board-certified in psychiatry and addiction medicine, and teaches addiction medicine at USC Keck School of Medicine and medical director of Inspire Malibu Treatment Center.