Gold medallist Chris Sherrington says judo helped him conquer stress and alcohol problems after spending £8,500 on drink in just three months.
The Royal Marine from Ormskirk told BBC Scotland he had gone "off the rails" after serving in Iraq nine years ago.
After winning the +100kg final at the Commonwealth Games, the Scot, 30, thanked those who helped him recover.
"They fixed me six times. How many times can you break yourself? I broke myself rather crazily," he said.
"None of this would have been possible without the backing and help of the Royal Marines, Judo Scotland and Sport Scotland."
In a candid interview, he revealed that he:
- Returned from Iraq with stress issues in 2005
- Spent £8,500 on alcohol in just three months
- Got into judo again as a way of combating problems
- Sees himself as a sportsman rather than a member of the forces
- Wants to go into schools to tell his story
Soon after his gold medal success, Sherrington continued: "Nine years ago, I started a campaign, without knowing.
"I came back from Iraq and I had a bit of stress and I tried to vent it through sport. At first, it didn't work.
"Then I remembered that I did judo as a kid. I didn't particularly like it and wasn't very good at it, but I remembered how tough it was.
"So I threw myself into it and put all my frustration into it. Within 12 months, I was third in Britain and 12 months after that I was number one."
Asked whether he had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, he said: "I don't know. I did go a little bit off the rails. My mum and dad were very worried about me.
"At the time, I just thought I was normal, but I was very open to suggestion and a little bit volatile as well.
"We got through it - and that's the magic of judo. There are people all over the world with problems and issues and this cures them.
"There are people with physical and mental disabilities and it makes their lives better. Judo's a magical sport."
Cheered on by a raucous crowd at the SECC, Sherrington accounted for Ruan Snyman of South Africa in the final, before celebrating by saluting all four sides of the arena.
It took Scotland's judo tally to six golds, two silver and five bronze medals as the sport made its return to the Games.
"Today was a very good day," said Sherrington. "We came out fighting as we always do and thankfully the best man won on the day.
"This is the best team Scotland have ever had and we showed it by levelling with England on the medal table."
Having been granted a full-time sports draft to get in shape for the Games in Glasgow after fighting at the 2012 Olympics, Sherrington will now return to military service.
"As it stands, the draft was only considered until the Commonwealth Games," he said. "It's one of those things I'll need to assess."