Retired Pro Hockey Player's 'Last Fight' With Addiction
When addicts pen memoirs, they tend to be clean and sober—or at least they claim to be. However I recently read a book by an addict who is not yet sober, and it was compelling.
The book, My Last Fight: The True Story of a Hockey Rock Star is by retired National Hockey League tough guy and four-time Stanley Cup champion Darren McCarty, who spent almost his entire career with the Detroit Red Wings.
McCarty's drug of choice is alcohol, although he did his fair share of cocaine and ecstasy, and continues to use medical marijuana. Early in the book McCarty writes that he's down to a six-pack of beer a day, which the reader later learns is a significant cutback.
Every page of the book is brutally honest; like he did in his hockey career, which included almost 200 fights, McCarty pulls no punches when he revisits those dark places that drug abuse took him, places he finds himself ashamed of today.
McCarty's famous 1997 Stanley Cup clinching goal
So there's no reason to doubt that the author is down to a daily six-pack.
I remember reading something from hip-hop star Eminem, no stranger to addiction and recovery himself and who, like McCarty, is so closely associated with Detroit. In 2011 he told GQ's Will Welch:
The biggest thing about addiction [is] when you realize you cannot—for fuck's sake, you can not—fuck around with nothin ever again.
This is one of those difficult-to-accept truths about addiction, and it's often among the last lessons learned by those in recovery. There is no such thing as a former alcoholic who today can enjoy a drink now and again, or a former opioid addict who can be given a prescription for percocet and truly take them as prescribed.
In other words, if addiction is all-consuming, recovery is all-or-nothing.
The good news for McCarty is that he seems to be aware of this, as reflected in the book's title: McCarty's last fight is his fight with addiction, and if you're a hockey fan you know that if he brings as much to this fight as he brought to his epic revenge beatdown of Colorado Avalanche forward Claude Lemieux, then Darren McCarty has more than a fighting chance.
McCarty, Lemieux, and the great Red Wings-Avalanche rivalry