Why Diana Nyad Is a Recovery Inspiration

The Story

If you’ve watched the news lately, you may have heard about Diana Nyad. At 64, she just accomplished her life-long dream of becoming the first person to swim the 110 miles from Cuba to the US—without a shark cage. A grandmother, she persevered through excruciating jellyfish stings, vomiting and swelling to accomplish something truly incredible. Diana first attempted this feat when she was 28, trying another four times before she succeeded.
After finally completing her swim, Diana Nyad tweeted “I got 3 messages: 1 is we should #NeverEverGiveUp, 2 is #NeverTooOld to chase dreams, 3 is #NeverASolitarySport it’s a team.” This quote extends far beyond Nyad’s swim, however; it resonates with the 12 Step message and encourages us to always carry on.


It is a sad fact, but 90% of people who attend 12 Step meetings do not make it past the one-year mark. Regardless of why people relapse, they cannot give up—ever. What would have happened if Nyad stopped trying after her second or third attempt? It took five tries over 36 years for Nyad to swim from Cuba to Florida, many people may fail their first attempt at sobriety but you cannot let that stop you.


It took an entire cadre of people around Nyad for her to reach her goal. Likewise, no one reaches sobriety by themselves. It takes a support network to succeed in recovery. A support network consists of many people, one group is your 12 Step community, another can be friends and family and so on. One person can become addicted, but recovery requires a team.

Why This Matters

A woman going for a swim in and of itself may seem mundane, but the scale of what Diana Nyad did is mind-blowing. She sustained jellyfish, physical exhaustion and 110 miles of open water to achieve a dream she started 36 years ago. Those struggling with addiction would do well to view this inspiring story as proof that you can achieve your goals irrespective of your current situation. Will things be difficult? Yes, will there be pain involved? Probably, but through diligence and with the backing of a solid support system you can be great too.