Dr. Aaron's Blog

Andre Agassi, Tennis & Meth

December 22, 2015 Addiction, All, Naturopathic Medicine, Recovery coaching by Aaron Van Gaver

At a certain moment in time, Andre Agassi was arguably the most famous tennis player in the world, if not one of the famous athletes. But even those closest to him did not understand the depths of his addiction to crystal meth. While this is a drug that is not typically associated with the rich and famous, Agassi turned to meth to cope with the pressures of his career.

Agassi’s addiction threatened to torpedo a very promising career, but also provided a handy explanation for why the tennis prodigy always seemed to be throwing matches left and right. He was regarded as a young, snot nosed punk, a player whose endorsement contracts and statuesque wife, the generational beauty Brooke Shields, had gone to his already swelled head.

At that point, most thought that Agassi’s talents would forever go to waste. While he did win three Grand Slams early in his career, he always left tennis aficionados wanting more. He eventually turned his career around. After a well-publicized divorce from Shields, Agassi became much more thoughtful, an elder statesman who was asked about a variety of topics.

He would capture five more Grand Slam titles, bringing him to  8 for his career. After squandering his considerable talents for years, he got married to fellow tennis champion Steffi Graf and the two started a family of their own. Agassi even began to receive positive press for the work he had done with his Las Vegas school foundation.

It was not until later in life that the reasons for Agassi’s erratic behaviour would come into focus. Agassi’s crystal meth addiction would cause him to fail a drug test and he only escaped a two year suspension from professional tennis by the skin of his teeth, as he lied to save his own skin.

The Association of Tennis Professionals has since been accused of willfully accepting a story that they knew not to be true, in order to protect the integrity of the sport and avoid a major bombshell. Agassi seemed to realize that he was being granted a reprieve and from there, he finally began to live up to his immeasurable talent.

Agassi was motivated to reveal his struggles and speak out about his failed drug test. He chose to share these stories with the world, because he felt as if they could help someone else who was in need and reduce the stigma that is associated with crystal meth addiction.

He is living proof that addiction can strike at any time, even those who seemingly have the world in the palm on their hand. Addiction does not discriminate between rich and poor, talented or unskilled. He is also living proof that anyone can make the decision to get clean and stay clean.