Former professional baseball player opens up about overcoming addiction

Former professional baseball player opens up about overcoming addiction

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - 20/20 co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas opened up about her addiction to alcohol on Friday, telling ABC's Diane Sawyer that not her children or even drinking lethal levels of alcohol would stop her. Her story resonates with former professional baseball player Barry Lyons, who battled addiction to alcohol for years until deciding to make a change.

"I was not the person that I knew or others knew," said Lyons in an interview with WLOX News Now. "I was a drunkard. I was someone who was dependent upon alcohol on a daily basis."

A former Major League Baseball standout, Lyons recalls his battle with alcohol, saying his addiction began long before his professional career.

"I started drinking in high school on the weekends," he recalled. "I had been around drinking. It was part of the culture of my family, and social gatherings all involved alcohol."

Lyons said once he got into college, his drinking worsened. During those years, he said he thought the alcohol helped him, especially when it came to overcoming shyness in social settings.

"It gives the false narrative of it. It makes you have courage."

When he got in to Minor League Baseball, he began drinking everyday.

"I was drinking a fifth of Jack Daniels a day with no problem," he explained. "That is just what I would purchase and consume over the course of an afternoon or evening."

Throughout it all, he said, his life was miserable and he slowly continued to lose ones from his life.

"I lost a business. I lost a home. I lost my parents' home."

Christmas Day 2011 was the turning point for Lyons.

"I was home alone and woke up from an all-nighter and my family was gone," he recalled/ "It was Christmas Day. I had nothing -- no Christmas tree, no Christmas presents, no family to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with."

A week later, he called his girlfriend, who is now his wife, and she checked him into a detox center and then the Home of Grace in Vancleave.

"Since that day, I have not had a drink of alcohol. I have not used drugs. I have not even dared to do so. That is not who I am anymore."

Lyons has been sober for four and half years. For family members dealing with loved ones who are addicts, he advises that they have to want to quit.

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