Surfing legend Tom Carroll appeared on Australia’s 60 Minutes Sunday night to talk about a serious issue he’s faced for some time. The issue has nothing to do with surfing big waves–something he continues to do to this day–but rather, he opened up about a former addiction to methamphetamines.
A two-time (consecutive) world champion, an accomplished big wave surfer and co-star of the TV show “Storm Surfers” with Ross Clarke-Jones and widely considered one of the best surfers ever, Tom’s spot on 60 Minutes shows drug addiction isn’t a selective illness. Anyone, anywhere, can be afflicted no matter who they are or what they do. Carroll is living proof of that.
Referring to himself as, “a desperate addict,” Carroll checked himself into rehab when, after six months, he faced a life-changing crossroads. At a run-in with his former drug dealer, Tom and the dealer traded numbers. He later deleted it in a decision that he said saved his life and prevented a relapse.
Tom Carroll’s honesty about his problems with substance abuse is admirable. His candor has the potential to provide inspiration for individuals who suffer from similar addictions to seek treatment, or other forms of help, themselves. He is not the only one who has dealt with addiction either. Mark Occhilupo (Occy) battled drug abuse issues that derailed his career. After a successful recovery process, which included a rigorous training program and a move to the Gold Coast, Occy returned from the edge. His honesty, on display in his 2008 biography by Tim Baker, was a great way to gain back public admiration. Carroll, like Occy, dealt with his problems and got back on the horse.
In light of Tom’s honesty, it would be impossible not to remember the passing of Andy Irons, which occurred almost three years ago. Hopefully, this candid discussion of an unflattering topic will encourage more honest discourse in surfing’s otherwise tight-lipped culture.