Australian Surfing Legend Mark 'Occy' Occhilupo Opens Up About His Battle with Alcohol Addiction

Australian Surfing Legend Mark 'Occy' Occhilupo Opens Up About His Battle with Alcohol Addiction

Australian surfing legend Mark 'Occy' Occhilupo opens up about his battle with alcohol addiction and his journey towards recovery at Aurora Healthcare.

Around 1 in 20 Australians have an addiction or substance abuse problem, according to beyondblue.

For many sufferers of addiction, using drugs and alcohol becomes a learned way of coping with their issues, instead of reaching out to someone or seeking a healthy solution.

When Australian surfing legend Mark 'Occy' Occhilupo was at the prime of his career he suddenly dropped out of a world tour at the age of 19. Despite being one of the country's most gifted surfers, Occy was fighting a silent battle against depression and alcohol addiction.

The pressure of success at such a young age took its toll, and by his early 20s Occy had retreated from the spotlight as his life spiralled out of control.

“The depression wasn't constant. It would come and go. But it was tough. It was kind of weak to be going through something like that. You didn't talk about it. You tried to keep a handle on it yourself,” reports Occy.

“It’s a lonely thing, addiction. You’re drinking more to feel better but you’re actually getting worse.”

Occy says he attempted twice to get completely sober over the coming decades, but it wasn't until his third effort and seeking help at Aurora Healthcare’s Currumbin Clinic where he was able to find sobriety.

“I tried to address it a few times, the third time I had to knock it on the head otherwise it could have gotten the better of me,” explains Occy.

“Currumbin Clinic really helped. When you first arrive, the staff are amazing - they treat you really well and the Clinic is tucked into a little sanctuary by the beach. It just feels very homely.”

“I found my health and a real healthy mind there. All my sense have come alive since I stopped drinking.”

He said he found channeling his addictive personality into more positive avenues such as family and golf had helped him change his ways.  

Occy has been sober for three years and chose to open up about his battle with hopes it might help others seek the help they need. 

Currumbin Clinic is part of the Aurora Healthcare group. The Clinic’s 43-bed drug and alcohol unit provides medically supervised management of withdrawal from substances and the skills for relapse prevention whilst treating associated mental health conditions.

The primary focus of its three week inpatient program uses an abstinence-based model and introduces the Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous 12 Steps.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with addiction, let us help you.

Speak to your General Practitioner for information and a referral to access Aurora Healthcare’s private mental health services. Alternately, for a confidential discussion contact us on

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