#MyTri: Overcoming Addiction and Finding My Family Through Tri

Struggling with a porn addiction, Scott West found health and happiness with a new challenge: swim, bike, and run,

Photo: Courtesy of Scott West

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In #MyTri, we’re letting triathletes share their own stories of inspiration, motivation, fantastic flubs, and everything in between. We recently asked people: How did tri change your life? Submit your story and photo for consideration by emailing us at letters@triathlete.com with “My Tri” in the subject line. If we choose your story for publication we’ll be in touch.

My name is Scott West. I am 33 years old. Raised in Montana and Alaska, I was blessed in my life to grow up in some of the most beautiful places around. And of course I had an abundance of outdoor activities and sports to participate in. I met my wife while serving as a missionary in Guatemala. We married in Alaska in the fall of 2012, and since then, we have welcomed three beautiful children into our lives. In wanting to give my family the best, we decided to make Idaho our home, after having studied at Brigham Young University and falling in love with the state.

After obtaining my RN license, I found work in Boise, Idaho in 2020, and with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I became a COVID-19 RN and hit the ground running. In July 2021, my family relocated to Idaho Falls, where I am now employed with Idaho Falls Community Hospital as an ICU/IMC RN. This is where we will stay and where our family will grow. However, in order to grow, the ground first needed to be cleared and cleaned.

Due to many circumstances growing up, I made poor choices in order to cope with life. This developed into a habit and eventually became a full-blown addiction to pornography. I struggled to hide this addiction until ultimately I ended up hurting my beloved spouse in 2012 with the discovery of it. As I began to get professional help and counseling, I started to recover and become a healthy functional person. But getting rid of my addiction left a gap in my life, a gap I failed to fill. This led to a slow progress back into the addiction, which was at the point of destroying my life and family. I needed to replace the hole I created from my addiction with something else, something healthy, something strong, something crazy. That is where my life made a change for the better.

I was first introduced to triathlon by way of an announcement at a local bike shop. Remembering my motivation for competitive sports, I decided to do something crazy. And combining swimming, biking, and running together in one race seemed crazy. So I signed up for a local Olympic-distance triathlon in the summer of 2018 in Idaho Falls and began to train on my own without any knowledge about what I was doing or how to do it. Two months later I competed in my very first triathlon. I was knocked around during the start of the swim, saddle sore from the rented road bike, and jelly legged at the start of the run—and I was hooked. I wanted more. I had filled the hole in my life with something amazing that I could enjoy with my whole family. So I signed up for a half-distance triathlon at Bear Lake, which took place two months later. I made the mistake of not getting properly hydrated during the bike portion and resulted in both of my hamstrings cramping up for most of the run. But the feeling of accomplishment after finishing the race in 6:43:04 was more than I could ask for. And I was hungry for more.

Wanting to compete in longer distance races, I signed up for the 2019 AlaskaMan Extreme Triathlon. This consisted of a 3000m swim in the Seward Peninsula, followed by a 114-mile bike ride along the Seward Highway through mountain ranges with a 3500ft elevation gain to the Alyeska Ski Resort, and finishing with a 27.5-mile run through the surrounding trails, with the last 10 miles going up and down the mountain (another 6000ft of elevation gain). Extra gear and a support crew were needed for each participant. The swim required full wetsuits and I found it the most relaxing of the three events. The bike ride was just breathtaking as we cruised through the Alaska wilderness, despite the smoke from the forest fires. And the trail running was by far the most exhilarating, except for when we came to the steep incline of the last 10 miles. My support buddy was there with me, encouraging me, coaching me, and providing what I needed. The mountain was brutal but the most uplifting portion. I finished after a brutal 17 hours, with my son running the last 200m to cross the finish line with me. This was the best race of my life and the most challenging thing I had ever done physically and mentally.

After moving to Boise and starting work as a COVID-19 RN, most of the triathlon competitions last year were canceled, putting my hobby on a standstill. However, I managed to squeak into the 2020 Bear Lake Brawl half-distance triathlon. And t the same time, I signed up for the 2021 Ironman 70.3 St. George. This would be my first Ironman event ever. And it went off with a bang. Being around so many people and professionals was exhilarating and got my adrenaline pumping hard. The bike ride was just stunning and I had tons of support from the community and fellow racers. The run portion was full of meeting new people, encouraging others to keep up, laughing and telling jokes on a fast walk uphill when running was not the wisest choice. Crossing the finish line with my family waiting for me was just incredible. What made it more meaningful was the fact that it would be my last race of the year. I had decided to continue training but to stop competing in any events for the next two years in order to be able to give my family more of my time and to come back even more prepared to accomplish three challenges on my bucket list:

1. Qualify and compete in the Ironman World Championship in Kona.
2. Quality and compete in the Norseman Extreme World Championship in Norway.
3. Compete in an Ultraman triathlon.

How has it changed my life? Well, for starters, it helped save my life from the grips of addiction. It showed me that if I can do something as crazy as swim, bike, run up to 140+ miles, I can recover from any addiction. My health improved, my self-esteem increased, my marriage improved, and my family commitment has never been better. I thought that I was doing this for myself, but the reality was that I was doing it for my family (my wife and children). Everything I did, I did it for them. Through triathlon, I have shown commitment, dedication, hard work, and patience. My kids now want to follow in my footsteps, and I cannot wait to show them how. My family has supported me in this, and my time with them has never been better. Triathlon has blessed my life, saved my life, uplifted my life, and changed my life forever.

I don’t know what the future will hold for me, but I have high hopes for the very best. When you hit rock bottom, the only place left to go is up. And that is where I am going, along with my beloved family.

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