Lifeline Connections

Portland Therapy: Being a Champion

Jon “Bones” Jones is touted as the Light Heavyweight Champion at UFC 182, days before he confesses to a long-term drug addiction (Getty Images)

Drug and alcohol addiction doesn’t just affect the common man. It can be lurking in the shadows of the most influential rich and famous.

Yesterday, UFC’s Jon “Bones” Jones came before the public to announce his decision to enter drug rehab after he failed a mandatory drug test prior to UFC 182. Jones tested positive for benzoylecgonine, the main metabolite in cocaine; he was allowed to participate in UFC 182 because cocaine is not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“With the support of my family, I have entered into a drug treatment facility,” confessed Jones, just days after electrifyingly defending his light heavyweight championship title at the mixed martial arts’ conglomerate’s eagerly anticipated UFC 182 against Daniel Cormier. “I am taking this treatment program very seriously.”

Jones went on to apologize to his family, the UFC, his coaches, sponsors and millions of fans for his shortcomings. While his admission yielded solemn disappointment by president Dana White and the UFC, the organization was quick to encourage and support his decision to enter treatment.

“I am proud of Jon Jones for making the decision to enter a drug treatment facility,” White said in a statement to the press. “I’m confident that he’ll emerge from this program like the champion he truly is.”

White’s statement, however brevid and tacit, is nevertheless interesting. Without dissecting it too much, we can distill one very core subject: Jon Jones made a brave choice, and he is to remain a champion in the eyes of the organization – and, by all estimation – the world.

It’s very simple to assume athletes are sensationalized and glorified by the media – suddenly, taking drugs in excess and binge drinking top shelf martinis is glamorous because our “idols” indulge; why shouldn’t we? When you receive as much camera time as someone like a UFC champion, it’s all too easy to become a role model – and even easier to be effortlessly emulated. While the normal, everyday Joe is castigated, ostracized, judged, even hated by his peers for entering rehab and admitting a weakness, the suggestion is made to celebrate Jon Jones like the hero and gladiator he is.

Instead, let’s interpret White’s statement like this: Jones has a problem, has bravely admitted his problem, and committed to receiving professional treatment. He has faced his demons like a man, and has become a new kind of role model: a normal, everyday man, who, despite fame, still collapses in the face of temptation. Cocaine is the one opponent he cannot TKO. He’s losing a very bloody and vicious battle to a seemingly innocuous white powdery substance.

And isn’t that really what we are all doing when we enter Portland therapy facilities? We’re fighting a losing battle with our own demons. We are all like Jon Jones. We have a job (however dull and burnished it may appear next to his glitzy gig in the ring), we have expectations and demands thrust upon us, and we sometimes succumb to the pressures. Perhaps one person succumbs to eating disorders, or self-mutilation. Another may take his or her rage out on another person. And some choose to drink or take drugs. Each of these vices is a compulsion and a hideous demon. There is no difference. They are all ugly, they are all draining. They are all a dance with death.

Portland therapy organizations like Lifeline see our patients as more than intake forms and burdens on our resources and society. They are our champions, our courageous fighters in the ring. Sure, our clients might not be prize fighters, or actors, or otherwise immensely wealthy people of social stature. But they measure up just the same. We agree with Dana White. We are proud of our clients for making the decision to enter a Portland therapy facility, and we know they will emerge from Lifeline like the brave gladiators they are. When they defeat the ultimate opponent and stand victorious in that ring, when sobriety grasps them by the arm and hoists it firmly into the air, when the crowd jumps to its feet and roars its vehement, fervent support, they will stand crowned.

We wish Jon Jones all the best as he enters rehab, and we applaud all people who continue to make a difference in the lives of those just like him.

Portland therapy is different at Lifeline. Come visit us and learn how you can be a champion.

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