The following article appears in the fall edition of the Canadian Football League Alumni Association Magazine which will be distributed at the 105th Grey Cup in Ottawa:
His rock bottom came on Monday, January 26, 2015.
The longtime Voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Rod Pedersen, had been out for a "beer lunch" with a business friend which they'd done countless times before. Only on this occasion, those five or six beers mixed with the anti-depressants he was already overdosing on, leading to his own personal "trainwreck".
"I don't remember leaving the bar, although I'm pretty sure it was just before my radio show at 4:00 pm that day," Pedersen recalled for this article. "Really, I don't remember much after that at all."
What followed was a humiliating experience when Pedersen went on his popular SportsCage radio program on 620 CKRM Regina only to stumble and slur and eventually be pulled off the air within a few minutes. The thousands upon thousands of listeners were aghast, and that included his parents in Milestone, SK, a nearby farming community.
"All I remember is that I couldn't feel my face," Pedersen admitted. "But really I don't want to remember that day at all, other than it completely turned my life around."
What followed was an embarrassing suspension for the first time in his 25-year radio career, an Intervention, and being hustled into Recovery.
There have been worse rock bottoms in history, but it's not a contest.
At age 42 and after a 25-year stint as a problem drinker, Rod was ready to stop fighting. Almost.
Intense counseling, support group meetings and daily self-care have kept Rod sober ever since, and he knows he's battling a lifelong mental illness which can only be won One Day At A Time.
That's part of the message Rod spreads now as he travels the CFL with the Roughriders and speaks to addicts currently in treatment centres across the country.
"I tell them they're the smart ones," Pedersen stated. "They were smart and humble enough to accept the best help being offered. Some of us are a little more hardheaded and take the long road. Either way, the goal is to get to our ultimate destination and that's total sobriety."
That's the ambition of Rod's company Pedersen Recovery & Coaching Inc, which is a multi-faceted agency providing one-on-one "coaching" for athletes, entertainers and other high profile figures battling Addictions & Mental Illness.
"I got into the coaching aspect of it pretty much by accident," Pedersen explained. "A hockey team asked me to meet with their captain, who was stripped of his 'C' after an incident involving booze and drugs. The team had a counselor, but that guy had no experience with addictions so they called me.
"A voice in my head said 'You're completely unqualified to counsel this player' but when you look at a young man trembling in his chair, ravaged by addiction at such a young age, you know you have to do something. So I went out and got the necessary training, and it's exploded basically by word-of-mouth in the sports world."
Rod's training includes a Diploma as a Drug & Alcohol Treatment Specialist as well as ongoing addictions education from the Hazelden Betty Ford Center in the USA.
Pedersen Recovery also involves the vast Right Place, Right Time Tour where Rod travels the province discussing Recovery, Prevention, Motivation, Faith, Leadership and various other topics to teams, groups, organizations and churches. Because those groups are non-profit, Rod is raising funds for the tour through sponsorship to ensure anyone who wants to hear him speak is able to, free of charge.
"That's a lot on my plate!" Pedersen laughed. "But I feel like when I'm sober, I can do anything. Idle hands are the devil's workshop. The busier, the better for me and I know for a fact it's making a huge impact in peoples' lives.
"This road has been tough, frankly. I never wanted to go public with my struggles but the Recovery community felt my story could help a lot of people because I'm a public person who's not ashamed to say I got sober and took on some really big demons.
"There are a lot of hurting people out there. My goal is to give them hope and know that anyone can turn their life around. It's never too late."
To request an event on Rod Pedersen's Right Time, Right Place Tour, please click here and fill out the application:
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