We want to share successes or little victories that we’re experiencing at Mission Addiction and we’re behind in publishing this one. This is “Brandon’s Story” in his own words:
“My parents divorced before I can remember. My mother, brother and me lived with my grandparents until I was in the third grade. They helped raise me. We had a huge backyard and all the neighbor kids would come and play football, baseball and kickball. At birthdays and holidays, the whole family was there.
Mom worked hard to make sure we had everything we needed. She was home in the evenings and helped us with homework. It was very loving and nurturing, but I believe she was stressed to the max. She didn’t use drugs or alcohol, but she would go overboard on discipline, smacking us with belts or wood paddles. There was definitely a better way to handle the situation.
Dad came around when he wanted to or when me or my brother got into trouble my mother couldn’t handle. He wasn’t a very calm person – he was abusive, physically, mentally and emotionally. Dad drank alcohol and used drugs and wouldn’t come around for years at a time.
Middle School and High School
At age 12 in the 6th grade, I smoked weed and drank my first beer. I didn’t do good in middle school. In 7th grade, I played football, but didn’t make the baseball team. I missed football practice once and got benched. Dad decided to show up at a game, even though he never did before. After the game, he came to the house. I tried to lie to him about why I didn’t play, but he didn’t believe me. He called me every name in the book, pushed me against the counter and punched me in the face. My head bounced off the cabinet. Then, he left and I didn’t hear from him for a long time.
After that, I quit sports completely. I had no interest in them any more. I started smoking weed after school. At 16, I was smoking weed daily, going to parties on the weekends and drinking alcohol. During my freshman year of high school, I would skip classes. A couple of months in, I completely quit going to school. I’d smoke weed at the house while mom worked and intercept calls and letters from school. At 16, I also had my wisdom teeth pulled and took some pain killers as directed. I didn’t abuse them, but I liked them. This was my first introduction to pain killers.
Moving In With “A Stranger“
At 17, my dad filed for custody of me and my brother. My mom didn’t know what to do with me. The courts declared her unfit and we were forced to move away to a different school district with “a stranger.” There, I went to school but refused to do any work. Dad had shoulder surgery and was prescribed Oxycontin and Vicodin. I would take his pain killers by the handful and drink his liquor when no one was there.
Then, I got a job at a local grocery store. I found a purse in the parking lot. It had pain pills in it, which I ate immediately. There was $250 in cash too, and I hid that in a shirt pocket in my closet. I was shoveling snow outside when Dad yelled for me to come in. As soon as I got in arm’s reach of him, he punched me twice – once in the side of the head and in the nose. Then, he asked me where I stole it from. I told him and he took it, but he never returned it to the store, like he said he would.
“A fight broke out . . .”
The day I turned 18, I signed myself out of school and moved back to my mom’s. I started smoking weed again, drinking heavily and doing cocaine occasionally. Once, when my mom was out of town, I was drinking and driving and got pulled over two blocks from my house and got a D.U.I. Another time, my friend had a party and a fight broke out. My friend got stabbed twice, once in the stomach and once in the groin area. Not even a week later, I threw a New Year’s Eve party and I was involved in a fight. A friend noticed my shirt was ripped. I felt the shirt – it was wet and there was a hole in it. When I lifted my shirt up, there was blood everywhere from where I was stabbed. I had to have surgery and was taking pain killers again.
At 22, I was fully addicted to alcohol. I drank after work until I passed out – every day. One night, I got in another fight, got my second D.U.I. and was arrested for hitting a bunch of cars in an accident. I was arrested another time for aggravated robbery and aggravated assault and spent the weekend in jail. For about 6 months, I was drinking pain pills and snorting cocaine and heroin every day. The people I used with moved out of state and I couldn’t get the heroin anymore. I quickly learned about withdrawal.
“. . . it got worse and worse and worse.”
I continued a period of drinking for 10 years, including taking pain pills and Xanax. Every dime I spent went to drugs and alcohol. I would borrow money if I didn’t have it and I would steal alcohol if I couldn’t get the money.
When I met my future wife, Rashele and her daughter, McKenzie, I thought they were the best things that ever happened to me. At first, they moved in with me at my mom’s house. I thought I would stop drinking and taking drugs. I slowed down from time to time but couldn’t stop. Then it got worse and worse and worse. Everything got out of control when we got our own apartment. We both drank heavily and took pain pills and Xanax, regularly. We lost custody of McKenzie and we were devastated.
From Jail Time to Freedom
In 2012, I switched from pain pills to snorting heroin. I started stealing from stores and family members. In 2014, I got married and we were both hooked on heroin. A month later, I was arrested for possession, a felony theft and a long line of other thefts. In 2015, I went to jail for 8 months and then to the MonDay transitional program. In 2016, the day I got out of the program, I was injecting meth. I started stealing again and got in trouble, time and time again.
I randomly ran into an old friend, Cameron, who gave me a ride home. He talked about Jesus the whole way. I had to do other jail time and transition programs, but I kept thinking about that ride home with Cameron, who used to use, too. When I was out on probation, I went to a couple of A.A. meetings and other meetings, but it felt like something was missing. He suggested I try another meeting – the Mission Addiction Lighthouse support meeting. I started going there and I liked it. They didn’t judge me there.
A Different Program, A Different Life
After several months of doing that, the founder, Edward, told me they were starting a new aftercare program, in June, 2019. It was The MAP For Healing and Recovery and I thought it sounded great. I was the first one to sign up. I learned a lot about myself during the program.
Edward encouraged us with the homework, getting our feelings out, sharing in the group, praying together, and giving back to help others. In November, I told my story at the MA support meeting. It felt good to get all that out and everybody was supportive. It was like a family setting.
Edward and I also went to weekend intervention programs and transition programs together. It was cool to see people from the prison that I knew from before and I think it encouraged them to see me doing good. A lot of them came up and talked to me after I shared my story. Even though I moved on from that life, it made me remember where I came from.
I started reading the bible – a lot. I was definitely growing deeper in my faith. There were triggers to use, but my faith was stronger than the triggers. During the MAP program, one of my Lighthouse friends helped me get a good paying job. The shifts were sometimes unpredictable. Edward was flexible and helped me complete all the classes and graduate. I felt like it was a milestone and a good accomplishment when I finished.
I’ve been completely sober since May 3rd, 2018. That makes me feel really good. I thank God that I’m alive. If I can do it, anybody can do it. I live with my mom and grandma, but I’ve been able to keep working and get a lot of overtime to save money. I thank Edward and Mission Addiction for all they’ve done to help me move forward. For anybody that’s struggling with anything, I highly recommend Mission Addiction and The MAP For Healing and Recovery.”