Greg Long almost died. Keyword: almost. Like many professional surfers, Greg Long had a brush with death in a drowning accident which was close to fatal. Like many professional surfers, Long has a heroic story of recovery, getting back on the board, back in the water, and back to life.
Just shy of 100 miles off the southern California coast is a hidden swell in the middle of the ocean called Cortes Bank. The bank is infamous among surfers, especially big wave competitors like Greg Long, because the waves over this “freak” reef in the middle of the ocean can reach upwards of 40 feet high and more. On a 2012 trip out to the bank, Greg Long wiped out and got pulled down beneath the water, receiving an ultimate pounding. Unconscious, he was pulled onto the boat coughing up blood.
Greg Long’s life had been big wave surfing since he was a teenager. He was sponsored, a competitor, and a world class charger. “I had built so much of my existence around big wave surfing,” Long told Men’s Health, that he had to take time to reflect on what he was really chasing, beyond the biggest waves in the world.
A heroic recovery might indicate that Long hopped back on the board, winning competitions and titles, then charging hard for the rest of his life. Long’s heroism lies in the way he took a step back, slowed down, and found what mattered to him, his life, and his health. Just a few weeks after the Cortes Bank incident, Long paddled out at Mavericks, a renowned big wave surf spot near Santa Cruz which is the site of the infamous, invite-only competition “Mavericks” every year. Competing again so soon didn’t feel right to Long. After the competition he took off for some worldly travel. On his journey, he discovered a passion for activism, advocacy, and education on behalf of the ocean, joining up with organizations fighting to save the sea.
Long’s story is an important one for men in recovery. Recovery is a lifelong journey, not a quick interference with the plans one has for his own life. When something like addiction changes the course of a man’s life, he has to adjust his sails accordingly, putting what matters into perspective. Problematically, addiction affects the brain in such a way that it perspective gets lost. Chasing the high of a big wave can be similar to chasing the high produced by drugs. Hitting bottom is different for every man, whether he’s being thrown toward the bottom of Cortes Bank or the bottom of his drug addiction. Men in recovery can learn by taking a step back, going to treatment, and evaluating where their life will take them next.
Life can be limitless. Freedom from addiction can be found. At Tree House Recovery in Portland, Oregon, we are helping men create sustainable recovery through health, wellness, and adventure. Call us today for information on our nature inspired, evidence based programs for men’s treatment: (503) 850-2474