Bode Miller is a fabulous skiier and notorious partier - which was generally considered the reason he failed to medal in Turino in the 2006 Olympics after taking two silvers in Salt Lake City in 2002.  But he changed his approach to his work, and re-emerged at the age of 32 in Vancouver to win a bronze.  Oh - he still drinks - but more appropriately.  In this he resembles most Americans who overcome alcoholism.

 

The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, February 16, 2010. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.

Is Bode Miller an Alcoholic?

Bode Miller won a bronze medal for the United States in downhill skiing - a breakneck sports event that only the brave can even attempt. In an impossibly tight contest, he finished a split second behind the Swiss gold medal winner, and was a split-split second from winning silver.

That's downhill ski racing.

Bode's medal marked a personal comeback - from a drinking problem. Miller was a 24-year-old sensation in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, winning two silver medals. Then, in 2006, in Turino, he failed to medal despite being considered the best skier in the world.

Instead, Miller boasted about his late-night partying, claiming he performed several times while intoxicated. In a notorious 60 Minutes interview, Bode quipped that it's not easy "to ski when you're wasted" (a comment for which he apologized profusely).

He had alcoholic written all over him, right? When you impede your performance in your principal life endeavor due to drinking - Houston, we have a problem.

But the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has announced that "Alcoholism Isn't What It Used to Be." They meant their research shows that most alcoholics don't go to AA or to treatment, but that most recover anyway - while continuing to drink. And Miller is the poster boy for this narrative. He veered into excessive, unhealthy drinking - perhaps he would have qualified for a diagnosis of alcoholism (or "dependence").

Then he veered back. He never entered AA, or declared that he was an alcoholic. In fact, in his interviews, he claims he hasn't changed at all. Instead he changed his approach to his profession and, at the age of 32, he was the first one on the course every morning.

But he didn't give up drinking, to judge from headlines like, "Bode Miler Girlfriend, Get Ready to Party ." However, pointing out he has several more races he is entered in, Miller himself said after the race that he was going to bed early.

What is the message from the Bode Miller story? Pick one:

You are the master of your own destiny.

Focus on your purpose in life.

Don't make wise-ass comments on national television.

Get up earlier than your competitors.

Stay true to your true self.

But make needed adjustments.