Editor’s note: This interview with Matt Brown, a recovering drug addict, is the first in a series of interviews conducted by Addiction Recovery Care for its FACES OF HOPE: WE DO RECOVER series.
An interview with Matt Brown:
My drug use began at the age of 17. I began to smoke marijuana in high school and the mental obsession began pretty quickly. I would save money and spend insane amounts of time in search of my next high. My drug use increased when I began college.
During my first year in college I more than experimented with every drug that came my way. OxyContin and alcohol quickly became a daily part of life. Once I graduated from Physical Therapy School at the University of Kentucky and began making a nice salary, my use of drugs and alcohol continued to increase. After many years of crashing my life and trying to pick up the pieces, I finally crashed for the last time and ended up at Belle Grove Springs, a men’s residential treatment facility owned by Addiction Recovery Care.
During my stay at Belle Grove Springs I was taught how to live a life without the use of drugs and alcohol. In counseling, I figured out why I began using substances in the first place and was able to make the necessary mindset changes that allow me to live clean and sober today. And most importantly, I was introduced to the love of God that caused me to change in every way.
Describe your aha moment?
My aha moment came the day that I entered treatment. I had smoked cigarettes for nearly 20 years when I entered treatment, but the facility I entered, Belle Grove Springs, was non-smoking. Shortly after I arrived, we loaded up into the vans to go to Celebrate Recovery and I had made my mind up that as soon as we got out of the van I was going to find someone to bum a cigarette from. Then a voice inside of me spoke and said, “Do you realize that if you continue to disregard all of the rules and be a rebel that you will continue to get the same results from life that you have always gotten?”
At that moment, everything changed. I began to follow rules for the first time in my life. I didn’t realize it at the time, but as I reflect on this moment, I am fully aware that it was God intervening in my life.
Describe the feelings and emotions while in active addiction?
Hopelessness. Helplessness. Depression. Suicidal thoughts. A feeling of being trapped in a lifestyle that I thought I would have to be in forever. Loneliness. Chaos. Envy of people who weren’t addicted.
What is the driving force that keeps you going when times get tough?
My relationship with God. Knowing that God loves me and has a plan for my life allows me to continue on this path. Being able to talk to God and be transparent with my family and friends during hard times has been crucial for me.
What advice do you have for the addict that is still struggling?
That you don’t have to live like that anymore. There is a different way to live. That life is actually better without drugs and alcohol. And most importantly, God loves you and isn’t mad at you for your mistakes — He has His arms wide open and is waiting on you to ask Him for help.
What obstacles or roadblocks have you encountered along your recovery journey?
When I first got home from treatment I had such a difficult time dealing with the lack of chaos in my life. I had became so used to a whirlwind lifestyle that it took quite a while for me to be at peace with being at peace.
What is something you want people who have never struggled with addiction to know?
That people who are in active addiction don’t want to be there. That addiction isn’t a moral failure — it is a disease. That people who are in active addiction are sick people who need help.
What advice do you have for family members of person in active addiction?
To continue loving their addicted family member no matter what, but to realize that love doesn’t always look the same in every situation. One of the greatest acts of love that my wife showed me was the day she kicked me out of the house and said, “I love you, but I can’t help you anymore. You have to leave.” Loving an addict is to not enable them to live like they are living.
As a society, it is way past time for addiction to be part of public conversation. There is nothing to be ashamed of. We cannot continue to stick our heads in the sand and hope it goes away.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call Addiction Recovery Care at 606.638.0938 or visit them on the web at www.arccenters.com.