Outfielder Josh Hamilton has no doubt had a rocky road with drugs and alcohol, and his latest relapse could have him on the bench for a long time. Or it could be the beginning of relapse recovery for this talented, persistent ballplayer. One of the main criteria for recovery is “hitting bottom,” and we’ll just have to wait and see where Hamilton’s bottom is and how persistent he can be.

After three relapses as a major leaguer, it might seem that Hamilton has already hit bottom. The embarrassment to himself and his family, to his team and to the game of baseball might be too tough to bear for some players. But sometimes the addiction pit can seem bottomless, and the bottom is different for everyone. Sometimes losing everything, including a career, is the best thing that can happen to someone who has a problem like Hamilton’s. Sometimes it’s not until then that real recovery can happen.

When Josh Hamilton relapses and then comes back again and again, he shows persistence in the pursuit of his career; it’s persistence in in his relapse recovery plan that’s going to turn him around. ESPN recently reported that when Hamilton’s 12-step sponsor relapsed, it sent him spinning into relapse, as well. What do addicted individuals do when a sponsor or any friend in recovery goes out and uses or drinks again? They stay away from friends and colleagues who drink or use, and if they’re smart, they call in the experts. A rehab facility is one way to go; private therapy is another. While recovering addicts or alcoholics aren’t experts in the field of addiction and would never claim to be, they are expert at their own experience with the disease. A new sponsor could be in order for Josh Hamilton. It would certainly be a sign of persistence.

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