Congrats to Santa Cruz big wave surfer Darryl “Flea” Virostko for turning his life around and helping others do the same. Check out this cool article found on the New York Times Web site where talks about his new passion; teaching drug addicts how to surf via his “FleaHab” program.
Read the entire article at www.nytimes.com
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The first time Darryl Virostko surfed waves as tall as three-story buildings at Mavericks, the legendary surf spot some 50 miles north of here, he was high on acid.
It was not the only drug Mr. Virostko, 37, would take during his surfing career. Even as he was earning a reputation as one of the most fearless surfers in the world — wining the Mavericks competition, the Super Bowl of big-wave surfing, three consecutive times — he was also becoming an alcoholic and methamphetamine addict, dependencies that propelled him to success at surfing but eventually crushed him.
Mr. Virostko has been sober for a year, and this month he started a program called FleaHab in collaboration with a local drug rehabilitation center. He will teach surfing and other sports to patients undergoing supervised alcohol and drug rehabilitation.
Mr. Virostko hopes that FleaHab will be his anchor in the dry terrain of sobriety. Addicts in the program will replace the high of drugs with the endorphin rush of strenuous physical activity, he says. He recently took a group surfing to try his hand at teaching. “It’s like I’m learning to surf again,” he said. “Seeing them so excited reminds me of when I first started.”
Mr. Virostko checked into a drug rehabilitation center in August 2008 after an intervention. Months before, in an inebriated state, he fell 60 feet down a cliff. “Once you start using meth it’s not something you can stop doing overnight,” he said.