You weren’t a proper child, tween, teen, or in your early 20’s in the late nineties/early millennium if you didn’t know Bam Margera. Frontman of alternative rock band HIM, explosive skateboarding star, member of the fondly regarded MTV’s Jackass crew, and eventual star of his own reality TV show, “Viva La Bam”, it was hard to get anywhere in the counterculture of the time period without seeing Bam’s young face. Anyone young teenage boy was envious of Bam Margera. He was skateboarding, rocking out, hanging with his best friends, causing ruckus, playing epic pranks on his parents, doing whatever he wanted, and was making money doing it. Behind the scenes of Bam Margera’s on-screen seemingly problem-less life was a developing problem off-screen that would lead to Bam’s disappearance from his beloved skateboard industry but his eventual recovery. Few knew that Bam was a struggling alcoholic. Fewer knew that Bam was one of a small percentage- men with eating disorders.
Traumatic loss is a common peak of many a man’s journey to addiction. For an individual who seemed to have so much, Bam encountered a significant, crushing loss in the death of Ryan Dunn in 2011. Dunn was Bam’s best friend and a familiar face to any fan of Margera. Ryan Dunn was a regular on Jackass, starring along Bam, and on Bam’s TV show. Like many men who turn to alcohol, drugs, and other harmful coping behaviors like eating disorders, coping with difficult situations in life like traumatic loss takes only one path: self-destruction.
Bam’s pattern of coping included multi-day benders of purely liquid alcoholic diet which would not include much food. At the end of a drunk day, Bam would be blacked out in front of the fridge and binge on food. Bam told Munchies, a blog of Viceland that at his worst he ate an entire frozen pizza.
Like many professional athletes, Bam suffered an injury which took him away from skateboarding. Though Bam is not one of the many injured athletes who developed an addiction to narcotic opioid painkillers, he is one of many athletes who developed a drinking habit while unable to perform. Putting time into his music career, Bam went on a tour where he started drinking more. He explains that drinking while skateboarding is dangerous, but drinking while playing music is more manageable and part of the lifestyle. “I wound up falling into this cycle of hell,” Margera explains. “You wake up, you feel like [expletive], but you know if you take a shot of Jack Daniel’s, instantly you’re going to feel better. But long-term, you’re going to go down in flames.” “I think I drank everyday for three years straight and I wasted a lot of time and I probably would be a better skateboarder right now if I hadn’t. I spent a year re-learning all my tricks instead of learning new ones.”
Margera did go down, but he is on the rise once more. Making his return to skateboarding, Bam is working hard to rebuild his talent. He has also appeared on reality TV shows with his mother, engaging in therapy and recovery together. He speaks openly about his sobriety and his struggles to maintain his recovery. Talking about celebrity recovery which is not consecutive or long-term is often shunned because it sets a “poor example”. However, the commitment to recovery, that is always coming back from a relapse, is important to share. Recent reports have put Bam at more than six months sober, living happily with a healthy lifestyle, active skateboarding, and choosing ginger ale.
Life is full of possibilities for adventure because life is an adventure. Tree House Recovery is a men’s treatment program located in Portland, Oregon. Our program pulls inspiration from the magnificent nature of the Pacific Northwest to help men find freedom from addiction. Creating sustainable recovery through sustainable change, our programs help men learn how to live sober with adventurous lives. Call us today for information: (503) 850-2474