‘Deadliest Catch’ Addictions And Excess: More Dangerous Than Job?

Nick McGlashan, Wild Bill Wichrowski, Deadliest Catch-https://www.instagram.com/p/Br53NhcBMbJ/

In the past few years, Deadliest Catch fans have seen their favorite reality stars get themselves into some trouble and be the subject in some unflattering headlines. Some reality stars even died. Deadliest Catch fans may now just wonder, are the incidents of addiction, excessive drinking and arrests just part of the most dangerous job in the world?

The Deadliest Catch Deals With Addictions

Even the most occasional of Deadliest Catch fans have seen how the crab fisherman grind it out. They are throwing and retrieving crab pots in the most challenging storms, ice and dangerous waves. They are working even when sick or hurt. This is when the captain becomes nurse. A few years back,  when Captain Elliott Neese was captain of the Saga, his deckhand asked “Can you shoot me up with some Cortisone?” Suddenly, the captain becomes the crew nurse. While this is necessary on the Bering Sea, this often starts the cycle of self-medicating that goes beyond the boat.

Then, there is the boredom. According to the Portland Press Herald, “doctors, counselors and recovering addicts say… [most fishermen who use heroin] try it because it looks fun, because they’re bored and because it’s everywhere.”

When it comes to dependency troubles, the first name that is on fan’s lips is Blake Painter. The 38-year-old former Deadliest Catch star was found dead with both a “black substance” and a “white substance” near his lifeless body. According to The Fix, one of these substances appeared to be heroin.

Then, there is Jake Harris. His heartbreaking substance abuse struggles were a big part of the Deadliest Catch. Very few fans will ever forget watching the drama of Captain Phil finding out about Jake’s addiction on Deadliest Catch Season 6. This was before he suffered a massive stroke and passed on. Phil Harris allowed the cameras to film this, as he wanted the audience to know the truth of their lives.

Despite Jake returning for another season, he has disappeared from the Discovery show. Instead, any news about Jake has been in tragic headlines, about the incidents surrounding his addictions.

Jake Harris In Trouble In 2019

Before the Deadliest Catch cameras went out with the crab boats for Season 15, there were rumors that Jake Harris would return to the show. This appears to be stalled as the younger Harris got himself into trouble in late January. Jake was in Skagit Country, Washington, driving an RV when park rangers tried to pull him over. Jake unsuccessfully tried to outrun law enforcement in the RV. When they managed to stop him, they found drugs including heroin. This is just the latest in Jake’s troubles.

After a few years of silence, fans assumed things were going better for Jake. That was far from the truth. In late 2016, Jake met a couple and went gambling with them. The couple drove him home but robbed and dumped him out onto the freeway. After leaving him for dead, another vehicle stopped and got Jake to the hospital, where he spent a few days in ICU due to a serious brain injury. Captain Josh kept fans advised that things were going better for his brother, but that was short-lived.

In May 2017, Jake Harris was in trouble again, as he had a warrant out for his arrest. While in Arizona on vacation, with an unidentified female friend, he apparently took her vehicle without her permission. She called the police to report that the vehicle was stolen. The officers found Jake at a gas station, right near the hotel they were staying at.

Besides the car, the police found Jake also had some crystal meth and Xanax on him. He was supposed to go to court after this arrest, but he was a no show. Jake managed to stay out of the headlines until this year. Clearly, Captain Phil’s youngest is dealing with addiction, not unlike his father.


Jake Harris Taking After Captain Phil?

A few years back, Josh and Jake wrote a book on Captain Phil, the Deadliest Catch fan favorite. The book, Captain Phil Harris: The Legendary Crab Fisherman. Our Hero, Our Dad, talked to the Daily Mail about the temptations and addictions that their father overcame. As a crab fisherman, Captain Phil Harris lived a dangerous life on the sea, but lived a drug and alcohol-fueled existence on land.

His sons wove tales of Captain Phil’s excesses, which included drugs, gambling and women. As a crab fisherman, he had boatloads of money and every day was a party. He would wake up and down an entire bottle of Stoly, the best Russian vodka.

Captain Phil was honest with his kids about his crazy excesses. Every paycheck was $80,000, equivalent to buying a new house, it was so much money. In less than a month, it was all spent. Then he would do it all over again. Josh explained what Phil’s life was like when he was not crab fishing.

“My dad once told me that when he was a young crab fisherman, he’d get a big fat pay check, buy huge amounts of cocaine…rent the penthouse of a nice hotel, and rotate the girls in and out.”

Of course, Phil got help and wound up gaining full custody of his two sons. He totally turned his life around. Thankfully, he is not the only one.


 Deadliest Catch Star Nick McGlashan’s Recovery

One of the few success stories has been Nick McGlashan, a key member of Captain Wild Bill Wichrowski’s Summer Bay boat. A few seasons back fans, Fox reported that it looked like he was dying of cancer. Turns out, the deckhand was a “full-blown junkie.” He was addicted to heroin and meth. To top it off, he later admitted he was a “heavy alcoholic.” He would mix lethal combinations of drugs and alcohol such as a half gallon of vodka, a couple of grams of heroin and a gram of meth–and consume it “every day.”
Wild Bill stood by Nick and helped get him help. Nick went into treatment and recovery and is back on the boat. Wild Bill, who has nicknamed himself “Mild Bill,” now jokes about it being a recovery boat, and told Pop Culture that now instead of reading magazines, the crew is sitting around reading the Bible.
Nick admits this is not always easy. He now encourages drug-free living and even posted on Instagram “I #survived because the #fire inside me #burned#brighter than the fire around me. #recovery #sobriety #saved #believe#addiction #drugs #hope #strength#struggle #overcome #inspire#inspiration” He has even sparred with former Saga captain, Elliott Neese over recovery. Neese has overcome his own addictions but was not as lucky as Nick. He vows to return to the Bering Sea, but right now, Neese is on the outside, looking in.

What are your thoughts about the addictions and off boat issues that many of the Deadliest Catch stars have faced? Please share your opinions in the comments field. Deadliest Catch Season 15 airs on Discovery Tuesdays.

Georgia Makitalo

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