The worst-kept secret in Indianapolis was unveiled to the world Sunday night, when Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested in Carmel for driving under the influence of prescription drugs and possession.
Most who’ve had even limited contact with Irsay during his three decades here knew something was amiss over the past year. I saw it, in the vacancy behind his eyes, but thought it was conceivable he had a natural health problem he was secretly fighting.
Alas, it was the man-made variety most suspected. And no, substance abuse is not a disease, it is a choice made by Irsay, and at one time, myself.
I put my drug and booze demons to rest in 2004. Irsay and I actually first crossed paths in a support group program that summer, a higher power-based one that didn’t fit my needs. For me to quit after eight years of high-octane craziness, it took hitting the closest thing to rock bottom without incarceration, and realizing I was going to kill myself or someone on a roadway one night.
After a few meetings and personal reflection, I assessed my true issue was what I was consuming. Like an overweight person choosing cake over celery to their personal detriment, my poison was vodka, in quantities beyond comprehension. I decided to switch to just beer and wine, and my life improved remarkably, absent the danger and ridiculousness. I wasn’t an alcoholic, just a problem drinker when downing hard liquor.
In the decade since, there’s never been a chance of revisiting those days. Family, friends, an enjoyable career and simply turning the page kept that from happening, even in the most difficult of times.
Not everyone is so lucky. Life doesn’t always provide what one needs to overcome such obstacles. I don’t know if Irsay fits this category, but for some, the pain of being alive can most effectively be alleviated by pharmaceutical dilution of the senses.