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Olympians Not Immune to Addiction

Even Olympic swimmers Anthony Ervin and Emily Seebohm have their "Kryptonite."

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Seebohm's social media addiction dragged
her down. Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman

07/31/12

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In the media storm surrounding the 2012 Games, two Olympic swimmers have made waves by opening up about their addiction struggles—one detailing how he triumphed over addiction, and the other blaming addiction for a recent loss. Former gold medalist Anthony Ervin, of the US, has spoken about his drug, alcohol and sex addictions that lead to him crashing his motorbike in an attempt to evade police, viewing women as "objects to destroy at will," and even attempting suicide by consuming a mountain of tranquilizers. "I woke up the next morning only to find I had failed to even kill myself," he says. "At that point, I had a moment-with-God-type thing. I was reborn, in a way." After re-enrolling at UCLA in 2007, Ervin decided to give swimming a second chance; he qualified for this year's games and will compete in the 50 meter heat on Thursday. "My real bane was smoking pot and cigarettes," he says. "It's really been my Kryptonite. Once I got away from it, my body just resurged and kind of flourished. It's like deja vu. Except where once I was green, vain and ambitious, now I'm just grateful to be alive and bring joy to those I care about."

For Aussie swimmer and gold medal hopeful Emily Seebohm, it is social media sites like Twitter that are her "Kryptonite." She recently blamed a social media addiction for her silver medal in the 100-meter backstroke, claiming she felt too much pressure from her Twitter followers—causing her to cave out of fear of a loss to US competitor Missy Franklin. "I have said a lot that all I need to do is focus on my own race. But when people start telling you are going to win gold, you are going to start believing it," Seebohm said. "When they tell you a thousand times you are going to get it, somewhere in your mind you are just like, 'I've done it'. But I hadn't and that was a big learning curve and I obviously need to sign out of Twitter and log out of Facebook a lot sooner than I did." The Twittersphere has called BS on her "excuse"—but increasingly, research has shed light on the growing problem of technology and social media addiction, with one study claiming that tweeting or checking emails may actually be harder to resist than cigarettes or booze.

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