The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/05/13 at 02:31 PM ET
And, via SI's Al Muir, file this story by the Calgary Sun's Eric Francis under, "Who knew?": Newly reacquired Calgary Flames forward Brian McGrattan battles alcoholism, and he helped former Nashville Predators teammate and now Red Wings forward Jordin Tootoo get sober:
Somewhere in the midst of his four years of sobriety, Brian McGrattan reached a point where helping himself simply wasn’t enough. He wanted to help others, too.
The first beneficiary was Jordin Tootoo, who leaned heavily on McGrattan in Nashville where the two Predators teammates drew strength from one another as part of a friendship/mentorship that endures today. But the Calgary Flames winger wanted to take his passion for helping others turn their lives around to another level. So, he approached the NHL.
“I had a meeting with the (league’s substance abuse program’s) doctors in October and asked if I could give them a hand,” McGrattan said of one of many bold steps he’s taken since he had the realization that his life was spinning out of control because of addiction. I’ve been talking to Alcoholics Anonymous groups, and I go back to my treatment centre I went to and talk to the people there to tell them my story. I feel it comes to me pretty naturally. I spoke to my parents about it in the summer, and post-hockey it’s one of my biggest interests. As the years have gone on, I’ve been more vocal about it, and I feel the more I can give back and help, the more I can save lives.”
Francis' story continues, and Francis reports that McGrattan and Tootoo, who's now playing for and starting to thrive with the Red Wings, remain friends:
Things couldn’t have been better for him this summer when he married his girlfriend (he also refers to her as his backbone) of two years at a ceremony that included Tootoo, amongst others.
“Being an alcoholic, alcoholics help one another,” said McGrattan, whose first congratulatory text came from Tootoo after he was traded by the Predators to the Flames. “He helped me almost as much as I helped him. He’s been clean two years in December and I was sober four years the beginning of December. We still have a close friendship, and it’s good to lean on one another and have friends who can relate to you at a level most other people can’t.”
I can't offer comparisons in the substance abuse department, but I can sure as hell tell you that many of my closest friends have dealt with or do deal with chronic mental illnesses, and it makes a world of difference when you're having an anxiety attack or feel depressed as hell and you can talk to someone who knows where you're coming from.
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