Addiction is a chronic disease that picks up speed as time goes by. It isn’t an indication of weakness or lack of willpower and it rarely gets better on its own. With treatment, however, many addicted people are able to recover and lead happy, productive, substance-free lives. Sometimes, getting better involves stumbles and relapses along the way, and sadly, rock bottom comes too soon for some people.
Steve Howe was a talented pitcher with a powerful left-handed pitch who was drafted by the Dodgers soon after his 1979 graduation from the University of Michigan. Howe made his major league debut and was named Rookie of the Year in 1980. He helped the team clinch the World Series title in 1981, and was named to the All-Star team in 1982. It seems that things couldn’t be better for the rising star, but in reality, life was beginning to fall apart. Howe’s struggles with addiction are well documented.
Attempts at Recovery and Ongoing Problems
Howe’s first attempt at recovery from his cocaine addiction began with a stint at rehab in 1983, which was followed by relapse and a second visit. The next few years were filled with moments of brilliance on the field interspersed with an ongoing battle with alcohol and cocaine and a total of seven suspensions for breaking the MLB’s rules on substance use.
At times, it seemed that Howe was winning the battle, and in 1989 he published his autobiography, in which he was forthcoming about his struggles with addiction, and his commitment to Christianity.
Unfortunately, Howe’s ongoing troubles included run-ins with the law, including a felony charge for attempting to buy cocaine, which occurred in Montana just a few days before Christmas, 1991. The felony charge was dropped to a misdemeanor charge of attempted possession of a controlled substance. Howe eventually pleaded guilty and the ML B subsequently proclaimed that he was banned for life. However, Howe was reinstated after he successfully appealed the decision.
Howe enjoyed a great year in 1994, followed by a couple of lackluster seasons, and he was released from the Yankees after pitching until June of the 1996 season. Troubles continued when only two days after his release from the Yankees, Howe was arrested at Kennedy Airport after security officers found a loaded pistol in his suitcase.
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Unrealized Potential: Life Shortened by the Disease of Addiction
By the end of his career, which spanned 17 years but only 12 seasons, Howe had played just short of 500 games. Following his retirement from baseball, Howe kept busy in his construction company and managed to stay out of the public eye for several years. He attempted a comeback in 1997, but an injury to his arm put an end to his career, this time for good. Those who knew him believed Howe had tremendous unrealized potential due to his addiction and personal problems he wasn’t able to manage.
Howe was killed in 2006 when his vehicle rolled over near Coachella, east of Los Angeles. A toxicology report revealed that he had been using methamphetamines at the time. Howe, who was 48, was married. He and his wife were parents of two children.
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