Drug abuse – illegal or otherwise – has long been a major issue in this country. You may think that people who are less fortunate are more likely to become drug addicts – with the least likely being the professional sports broadcasters that you’re familiar with. It’s rare that you hear of an ESPN personality battling drug addiction.
But Jeff Dubay is proof that anybody can develop a drug problem if they’re not careful.
Dubay is best known as one half of the “P.A. And Dubay” program on KFAN-AM in Minneapolis, a midday show that essentially started as the replacement for Jesse Ventura, who ended his KFAN program to concentrate on running for Governor of Minnesota, an election that he would eventually win. But KFAN’s loss in Ventura turned out to be the station’s gain in “P.A. And Dubay,” which would go on to be “the highest-rated sports-intensive show in the state.”
“Things were so good, and so easy for so long, that I was so ill-prepared for personal tragedy.” That’s Jeff Dubay setting up his explanation of his fall from grace after discovering drugs. Dubay spoke for a half-hour on Wednesday afternoon with Chad Hartman on WCCO-AM, a station where NBC “Sunday Night Football” sideline reporter Michele Tafoya hosted an afternoon drive show until earlier this year.
As Dubay describes it, it all started when he went through a “particularly difficult” divorce with his wife. It somehow led him to a party in “a bad part of St. Paul.”
“I wound up one night… in the loneliest, darkest time of my life… in a place where I shouldn’t have been, with people I shouldn’t have been, and somebody showed me something that I didn’t even know what it was… Somebody dropped this off, set it on the table. I’ve never even seen it before… these chunky, little white things, I was like, ‘What the heck is that?’ And the guy says, ‘Oh, that’s rock.’ I still didn’t know what it was… I was so naive that somebody could set it in front of me, call it ‘rock,’ and I still wouldn’t know what it is.”
With Dubay the divorcee feeling “sad” and “lonely” and “pathetic as a human being can be,” he decided to experiment with ‘rock’ for the weekend – or as he called it, “check out for two days.”
Two days would turn into two years.
“I remember thinking to myself, a week into [the addiction] thinking, ‘What am I gonna do now?’ I mean, life just changed… I walked through a door that I should have never, ever, ever walked through.”
Dubay broke down how his life was divided into two segments during his addiction: “The time that I was using, or the time that I was looking for it.” He talked about how usually after each hit of cocaine, he experienced an “angry” or “anxious” feeling that could only subside if he chased it with another hit.
Family and friends such as his on-air partner, Paul Allen, urged him to seek treatment, yet those pleas fell on deaf ears. Despite that, he still managed to maintain co-hosting the midday show on KFAN alongside Allen, who hosts that timeslot solo on the station these days. And Dubay vowed that he “never, ever” appeared on the radio or television under the influence. He also admitted to pawning personal items for drug money, but had never resorted to theft. “There were lines that I didn’t cross.”
Until October 15, 2008. That was the night that Dubay was “really jonesin’ hard” and looked to hook up with the acquaintance that introduced him to ‘rock’ in the first place. On the way back home, “there’s an officer behind me, and I had a burnt-out taillight… He had no idea that I had anything on board, and I panicked, and tried to throw it out the window like a complete idiot.
“I can’t say that I don’t have regrets about being arrested, but part of me thinks that if I would have kept getting away with it, where would I be now? I shudder to think.”
“Would you be alive?,” Hartman asked Dubay.
“I don’t know. I honest to God don’t know. I really don’t.”
The arrest led to Dubay’s suspension and eventual termination from KFAN, as well as Fox Sports Midwest, where he was an analyst for Golden Gophers college hockey. Dubay agreed to a court diversion program, in which he had to perform community service and abide by other guidelines for a year. He flunked out of the program no less than half a year into it.
Then in May 2010, upon declining to take a drug test mandated by the court, he admitted to using cocaine again. At that point, he was confined to a workhouse for three months. It was there that he met former Vikings wideout George “Buster” Rhymes – who was raised in the Liberty City section of Miami like Chad Ochocinco – with whom Dubay credits for turning his life around and find some “dedication” to controlling his life.
And how did Dubay finally kick his awful drug habit? While he had support from family and friends, he had an ingenious way of weaning himself off of cocaine: locking himself in his bedroom. “There’s no drug dealers in my closet; there’s no stash under my bed; I’m locking my door and I’m getting sober. And that’s where I got sober… There’s no danger there, there’s no harm there… I’m in a room by myself; I’m gonna stay out of trouble, and I’m gonna break through this cravings barrier.”
Dubay also assures that he’s kicked the habit for good.
“I know I’m clean, and I know I’m not going to do it again. I know people get in trouble when they say that they know they’re not going to do it again, but the thought of it makes me so physically sick.”
There are two reasons why Dubay is going public with his story. He’s hoping to get back into sports radio. “I would love to do radio again,” Dubay told Hartman with joy underscoring his voice.
He also hopes to “scare” people about the dangers of cocaine – which, disguised as “rock” wrecked havoc on the life of an innocent sports broadcaster in a time of need.
“This drug is so insidious and so evil… It romances you initially, and then it terrifies you, and you know the one way to get out of that quickly” was to engage in another hit of cocaine. “It’s this god-awful cycle that you cannot get out of.
“I want to tell my story, and I want to see if it can help anybody. I don’t have all the answers, I don’t have all the solutions, I don’t know everything there is to know about recovery… but anybody’s who’s tempted to even stick their toe in a pool of abuse and addiction to try it out for themselves, I think I can scare you out of it, if you let me sit down and tell you what it’s like.”
If you or anybody you know is battling drug addiction, Jeff Dubay is ready to scare you – or them – straight. Drop him a line at JDubay68@Gmail.com.