Tom Carroll has struggled with a crystal meth addiction since 2002, the two-time world champion revealed on Australia’s 60 Minutes Sunday night. Carroll was interviewed alongside older brother Nick Carroll, who has co-written the forthcoming autobiography, TC: Tom Carroll, a book that promises to chronicle some of the darkest moments of Tom’s life. Tom’s struggle with drug addiction has by no means been a tightly-kept secret within the surf world, but it is nevertheless not widely reported. He checked into a drug rehab facility in 2006, which made few headlines, and Tom was understandably reticent to discuss what put him there. His drug use has only occasionally been referenced by the media over the years.
On 60 Minutes however, Tom spent nearly 20 minutes opening up about how big a role his addiction to meth has played in his life. “It was killing me from the inside out,” he admitted. “I was a desperate addict.” He had his first taste of cocaine in the early ‘80s, when the drug was tearing its way its way through the pro surfing ranks. Ecstasy and LSD followed, and in 2002 Tom got hooked on meth. Drugs helped Tom, shy by his own admission, “loosen up and connect.” Soon after, he was a daily user. “It didn’t stop when he’d stopped being a pro surfer; it didn’t stop when he’d shaken off the last bit of his competitive aspirations; it didn’t stop when he’d had kids,” Nick explained of his younger brother’s drug use. “It was going to kill him.”
Tom’s stint at rehab was successful, and he reports that he’s been clean for seven years. His addiction did cost him his wife Lisa, whom he had married in 1991, but he maintains good relationships with his three daughters today. It’s also clear from the 60 Minutes piece that without Nick, who sits in front of his younger brother during the interview, assuming something of a protective role in a vulnerable moment, that Tom would probably have sunk deeper into his pit of drug-fueled despair. “Sometimes,” Nick told Tom during his rehab, “we have to stand on each other’s shoulders for support.”
Watch the full interview here: