Hockey Star Chris Therien Opens Up About New Career in Addiction Recovery
Chris Therien has had a few jobs most of us only dream about: He played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for over a decade and later worked as a commentator covering his former team—the Philadelphia Flyers. But despite all the fortune and fame his career with the Flyers afforded him, he’s found a new calling that he finds much more fulfilling.
He’s now dedicated himself to addiction recovery, helping people move past the same things he struggled with.
Therien recently hit an impressive milestone—10 years sober. He posted on Facebook and Twitter to celebrate. He said that his sobriety “has fulfilled me as a person and carved a positive and lasting pathway forward for my family and friends.” In regard to alcohol, the substance that once caused him and his loved ones, Therien has no interest in revisiting that part of his life. “Know what I miss about it?” he said on Twitter. “Not a thing!”
Therien is well aware that many people don’t have the same opportunities he had to turn his life around. In fact, under 21% of people struggling with substance use disorder (SUD) or alcohol used disorder (AUD) actually get treatment, according to the National Survey of Drug Use and Health. That means there are over 16 million people in America left without the care they need. “There’s too many people suffering, especially through the pandemic,” Therien said.
To combat the addiction problem, he’s has opened several treatment facilities in the Philadelphia area, and has plans to open more.
Therien describes himself as a social drinker through his college years and most of his hockey career, before his drinking escalated and reached its peak during his final season in the NHL. Suffering a nasty concussion drove him to drink more, and then he was struck by the news of his sister’s death. “It’s like you’re down and out on all fours, and somebody hits you in the head with a two-by-four,” he said. “Makes sure you’re finished off.”
When Therien finally checked into rehab, shortly after his sister’s death, he had a blood alcohol concentration BAC of 0.63%. This is more than enough to kill someone or put them in a coma. His sobriety lasted 2 years before he relapsed.
For many people with alcohol or substance use disorder, relapse is a part of recovery. Addiction is a chronic disease, with a rate of relapse similar to other chronic illnesses, like diabetes or cancer. Fortunately, Therien recognized he had a problem before his drinking progressed to the level it had 2 years ago. After a few months off the wagon, he started going to AA meetings.
This time, if fully clicked. “When I finally got this right,” Therien said, “is when I surrounded myself with other sober people. You realize, they’re just like you. We’re still crazy. We’re fun people, we’re normal people. But we don’t drink anymore.”
Having a supportive sober network is essential to long-term recovery. It took Therien finding his sense of community to remain sober. Currently, he’s taking classes so that he can become a certified counselor and become more involved in the hands-on aspects of addiction treatment.
If you’re on the same path that Chris Therien was on many years ago and need help, know that it’s not too late to live a fulfilling, sober life. Please reach out to an admissions navigator at . They’ll be able to assist you with your insurance and answer questions about Sunrise House or other American Addiction Centers’ facilities.