The Olympics, Ryan Lochte, and Characteristics of Alcoholics
It seems as though each time the Olympics rolls around, the inevitable scandals and stories are right there with it. This year, Ryan Lochte and a group of fellow swimmers stole the spotlight, and unfortunately not for their gold medal achievements.
What started as the group claiming to be robbed and held at gunpoint in Brazil has slowly turned into a story about a drunken night out. Urinating in public, stealing, and general debauchery seems to be what went on. What Lochte and Co. claimed to be “robbers” were actually “security guards” who were trying to contain the rowdy American swim team.
Embarrassing for them, their teams, and Americans as a whole? Of course. It also brings to light characteristics of alcoholics that were on display that evening. We don’t know any of the swimmers involved personally and cannot claim that they are alcoholics, but their behavior certainly points in that direction.
Characteristics of Alcoholics Include Nights That Go Too Far
No one becomes an alcoholic the first time they pick up a drink. It’s a combination of predisposition, circumstances, and personality that creates an alcoholic. Many find that one of the first signs is a propensity for frequent wild nights out. Most people can go out on a date, to a concert, or to a birthday party and control their alcohol intake.
People who have characteristics of alcoholics will find that they don’t know when to stop drinking. This is a form of binge drinking that can lead to blacking out, embarrassing behavior, and even accidents and injury. This is exactly what seems to have happened that night in Rio when the swimmers couldn’t quite piece together the story of what went down.
Alcohol Makes Ordinary Situations Go Too Far
It’s no secret that alcohol brings with it embarrassing situations. People say things they wouldn’t normally say, and do things they wouldn’t normally do when sober. Lochte and his fellow swimmers wouldn’t have made up a story about getting robbed had they had the presence of mind to realize the lie would be exposed.
Alternatively, they would have been sober enough to understand what was happening, and the situation wouldn’t have even escalated in the first place. It’s possible that what happened that night in Rio could have been avoided if alcohol wasn’t involved. Today, the athletes are all stuck dealing with the consequences.
Characteristics of Alcoholics: Shame & Guilt
There is no doubt that the Olympians woke up the morning after their debaucherous night with feelings of shame and guilt. They likely had trouble remembering what exactly happened the night before, which perfectly explains the inconsistencies in their stories.
Blacking out, or even coming close, is never a good situation. It is in that blackout period where bad things tend to happen. That’s when people do things that their sober selves would never normally do. Things like cheating and affairs to fights and DUIs can all happen in this altered state of mind. When the morning eventually comes, waking up is never pleasant.
A cycle is born when the guilt is severe enough that the only solution is for the person to drink more to numb out their feelings. An intoxicated person may be unaware of how bad a situation truly is. The individual may start drinking early on in the day to forget about the consequences of their actions.
The fact of the matter is that an alcoholic’s life will not progress while they continue to drink. The only solution is to stop drinking and own up to any damage you caused, apologize, and work as hard as you can to fix it. In Ryan Lochte’s case, we can see that he is owning the guilt by issuing an apology, but he already suffered the consequences.
Ryan ruined his great public image, in addition to losing his sponsorship from prominent companies like Speedo and Ralph Lauren. Top brands simply will not be associated with the type of behavior and shenanigans that went on that night.
Dealing with Shame and Guilt Correctly
Lochte and his teammates are doing what they can to move forward. It’ll be a long road, and they’ll have to face some ridicule, but as long as they keep doing the right thing, things will eventually be ok. The problem with getting intoxicated to the point you alter your judgment is that you must deal with the consequences of your actions. Luckily for them, the only permanent damage was to their reputation. The same cannot be said about thoe who drink and drive or involve themselves in fatal accidents. It’s important to realize just how significant the consequences can be.
A big part of addiction recovery is learning how to handle shame without running back to alcohol or drugs. It isn’t easy at all, but there needs to come a time where you accept yourself and your past. You need to learn how to deal with it. Stop thinking about the “would have, should haves”, and look toward the future. It is only once you do this that you can move forward. Decide to prove yourself to be the collected, positive person you are deep down.