Recovery Rocks: Gavin Crosisca

Gavin-Crosisca-210x300A long overdue visit to Veronica Valli’s excellent blog Recovery Rocks, this time involving an Australian sportsperson.

‘Recovery Rocks this week with Australian rules footballer Gavin Crosisca. Gavin played 246 of Australian rules football with Collingwood before moving into coaching for over 25 years.

But despite his successful sporting career Gavin hid a 25 year drug problem from his teammates and fans.

He describes his addiction as being ‘a fire inside of him’ as it slowly destroyed his life, finances and family.

A last ditched intervention organized by his wife finally got him into treatment. Embarressed, ashamed and scared about what the public would think about his addiction problem Gavin was initially reluctant to talk publicly about his struggles.

Now he is dedicating his life to helping others who are suffering from alcoholism and addiction through The Right Time radio show and his intervention service.

Australian rules football has a reputation for being brutally rough and tough Gavin Crosisca was one of the best. But he showed true courage and strength when he became honest and vulnerable enough to show everyone who he really was and what he was struggling with.

This is his story…..

1. Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
My rock bottom was when my wife asked me to leave the family home. I was out of home living with my dealer for nearly six weeks and I still had not put any effort into getting my wife and three kids back in my life.

I certainly didn’t want to leave home but I didn’t want to stay there either. I was very confused and at a set of cross roads where I thought dying as a hopeless lonely alcoholic/addict like my father had done 2 years previously was an option that was ok for me.

That was what I contemplated in the grips of my addiction before I took the first steps of my recovery. I really don’t believe in rock bottoms because I believe I had many more in front of me. Thankfully my beautiful wife hung in there long enough to raise my rock bottom for me.

2. What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
Because of my sporting background here in Australia I was very embarrassed and ashamed of the hidden life I had led for 28 years and the thought of my story hitting the media and out into the public made me quite fearful.

But after attending 12 step support groups and being in a rehab with many other people suffering the same way I had been suffering, it ended up becoming a huge relief for me.

I got so much freedom just from family members finally knowing what was going on with me. It explained my declining ability to live and the suspicious, sneaky manipulative behavior I had portrayed over many years trying to hide my addiction.

3. What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?
Reconnecting emotionally with my wife and my three great kids and being present in their lives. Conversations had over the dinner table with my family and the opportunity working with families helping them get loved ones into treatment when their loved one may be full of denial of a problem (like I was) or refusing treatment. I am training as a Family Intervention consultant with Alcohol and Drug Help here in Australia.

4.  If you could go back in time to you when you were drinking/using what would you tell yourself?
Two things come to mind. Firstly I would love to have been able to tell myself to put my hand out and ask someone for bloody help. If I had of been able to do that earlier I am sure I would have found recovery earlier. I spent many years just existing and not living.

The second thing I would have told myself was ‘Gavin with treatment you can actually live happily without using or drinking, something that was un-recognizable to me during my active using days.

5. What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
I am learning everyday not just about myself but about other people in this big world as well. And do you know what? I actually fit quite well into this world and I never thought that to be the case.

I have also learnt that I am a good person who has good strong values but those values were being practiced in my life because of the disease I have.

I have also learnt that because of my Football background here in Australia I am able to reach and touch many people in the community helping them to take their first steps of recovery and to make it OK for them to seek help and treatment for their addiction.

6. Tell me about something wonderful that happened to you recently that never would have happened if you had been drinking.
I went to Goa in India to promote our native game Australian Rules Football. A very humbling experience helping many under privileged kids experience the fun and excitement of playing a game that was very important to me for all of my life.

I have also travelled into the Australian outback recently to help out in our local indigenous communities with the alcohol and drug issues they face in remote parts of our country. I also celebrated my 17th wedding anniversary recently.

7. What are your favorite recovery slogans?
Where do I begin! 1) When you have a problem go and help someone else. 2) If you work the steps we can guarantee your life will change. It may not change the way you want it to, but it will change.

3) 12 steps are like a recipe. If you leave one ingredient out your cake is F…ed. 4) The best part of recovery is you get your feelings back and the worst part of recovery is you get your feelings back.

5) Drugs are what we did, not who we are. 6) My drug/alcohol life: I sat in the shit for so long that it actually smelt normal.

8. And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
Recovery for me is everything because I am now ALIVE and living in the world. I was simply incapable of doing that for a very long time and I just couldn’t work out why I was unable to do that without using/drinking.

Recovery has given me back my life and my family and I want to spread the word that it is possible for anyone who wants it. You just have to put the time and effort into it.

You can flow Gavin on Twitter @crosisca28′