Jake "the Snake" discusses life beyond addiction
© Justin Crann
Jake "the Snake" Roberts (right) signs autographs for some younger fans at the Gold Dragon Wrestling event at Moose Jaw's Heritage Inn Sunday. Roberts said the support of his fans — and their stories — have helped him in his struggles with addiction and alcoholism.
In one corner is the intense and violent wrestling persona who terrorized rivals and rampaged through the World Wrestling Federation, World Championship Wrestling, Extreme Championship Wrestling and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling with his sidekick, the python Damien.
At the end of the card, Roberts took to the ring with fellow wrestler J.S. McStrongArm in a tag-team match. He finished the match victorious with his signature DDT. He capped off his victory with a speech to his fans.
Before the event, Roberts displayed the latter half of his personality in a one-on-one interview with the Moose Jaw Times-Herald.
"This is kind of my goodbye tour," Roberts told the Times-Herald. "I'm going back and seeing some of my fans, and it's interesting. It is really great for me to see all of the lives I've touched."
He said he was getting to hear the stories of his fans — "some of them are good, and some of them are bad" — including fellow cancer survivors and those who have struggled or still are struggling with alcoholism and substance abuse issues.
One such case Roberts recounted was an experience the day before, in Winnipeg.
"There was a signing … and there was a guy there who I saw in line and thought, 'What's wrong with him?' He was sweating. He was shaking uncontrollably. He came close to me, and I could see the tears in his eyes," he said. "He told me, 'I'm dying, man. I'm caught on drugs. I've been clean for four days now.'"
Roberts said the man was "white-knuckling" the disease, which is difficult to do because of the nature of it.
"Alcoholism and drug addiction burrows in and it shames you. It humiliates you. It owns you. It's a hard thing to face," added Roberts. "Admitting that you are an alcoholic or an addict is half the damn problem. We don't want to admit it. I get that. Nobody wants to say, 'I'm a (pansy), I can't beat this thing.'
"Well, guess what? I'm a (pansy). I can't beat this thing on my own, man," he added. "There's nothing compared to this, man. I've never been to a rehab or a jail and met people who said, 'You know what, Jake? When I was little, my dream was to grow up and be a junkie or an alcoholic.' It's just something that hits you. It sneaks up on you, grabs you, and pulls you down into the crap."
Roberts said in his battle with the disease, he has enlisted the help of a therapist, friends and family, and Antabuse, a substance that causes violent reactions to alcohol should he relapse.
He said his supporters, in particular, have helped make things "hit home" for him.
"I'm clean now for 19 months. … For the first year, I didn't get it. … Where I am at right now in my life, it's so beautiful. I'm getting sober for the first time in my life and actually enjoying sobriety," said Roberts. "My kids supporting me and being able to hit the (WWE Hall of Fame ceremony) with me was an awesome moment. The relationship I'm building with them is something beautiful and something I never thought I'd have."
He said that support has been invaluable to him, and extended a message to others who know people who are struggling with addiction or alcoholism.
"If you know someone out there who is struggling, be their support. I'm not asking you to go in there and take a punch in the nose and let them rip you off," said Roberts. "Hate the disease. Don't hate the person."
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