“I was like a zombie” — Brian’s Story of Hope

During his years of active addiction, Brian had a single focus in life: maintaining his drug supply.

At work, he tried to keep occupied with his duties as a country-club server, but in the back of his mind, he was always thinking: When am I going to get pills? When will I get a break to go use them? How will I pay for them?

Now, nine years into recovery, Brian knows all about the wreckage addiction causes, but knows something else, too: The personal qualities that helped sustain his addiction can be harnessed for good.

“Drug addicts have an amazing ability to put their mind to something and get it done,” says Brian, 34, an Ideal Option patient.

“All that energy you spent chasing drugs and manipulating people — you can put all that into doing something positive.”

Today, Brian’s whole life is positive. He exercises daily, a mix of cardio and weightlifting, and he’s shed the extra weight he gained during his addiction. He journals regularly and reads self-improvement books.

He’s also built a thriving business as an online coach, teaching entrepreneurs how to sell on amazon.

“I’ve built a whole online university and have helped over 300 students start their online business,” he says.

None of this was on Brian’s radar when his life revolved around scoring drugs and snorting them in his car on lunch breaks. Sometimes, he took so many pills that he didn’t even remember driving to work.

“I was like a zombie,” he says.

To fend off the misery of withdrawal, he’d steal pills from his dad’s medicine cabinet. He was constantly asking his mom for money.

“I’d tell her, ‘My car insurance is due” or “I have to pay a speeding ticket” or “I’m going out with friends.” She’d give me 20 bucks here and there, and it would all go toward drugs.

Looking back, Brian says, his addiction was driven in part by low self-esteem.

“I was using drugs to avoid dealing with who I was and what type of life I wanted to live,” he says. “I was numbing my thoughts.”

Eventually, his mom caught on to his drug use and gave him an ultimatum: enter inpatient rehab or move out.

Brian went to rehab — reluctantly and without acknowledging his addiction.

“I had a cocky attitude,” he remembers. “I thought, ‘I don’t need to be here.’”

He left the first week. “I wasn’t ready to stop using,” he says.

Brian spiraled further into addiction, landing in the ER multiple times after mixing alcohol with drugs. He was arrested for stealing a watch from a store where he worked.

One night, pumped up on drugs, he lay in bed fearing he might have a fatal heart attack.

“I had legal issues piling up, and I knew I was only going to end up dead or in jail,” he says.

“I had this revelation like: OK, this isn’t working. I’m done fighting.

At age 26, Brian agreed to inpatient treatment again. This time he stayed 45 days and took the program seriously.

“I did a lot of writing and thinking and journaling,” he says.

When he left the treatment center, he continued the routines he’d learned in rehab, like daily exercise and attending NA meetings. He deleted his old phone contacts and got a new number.

“I did all the foundational things we were taught,” he says.

He enrolled in Ideal Option and started taking Suboxone, which helped suppress cravings, and he found that he liked living an honest life, rather than being “secretive and sneaky.” 

“When you have an addiction, your life is chaotic and stressful. You’re always sick, physically and emotionally. But at rehab, I was re-set, where I could have confidence and healthy relationships.”

Brian landed a job as a banquet manager at a winery and found he had no trouble working around alcohol.

“I’d work these weddings and see all these drunk people. They’d start drinking at 3 p.m., and by 8 p.m. they were throwing up.”

He wanted no part of it.

After five years at the winery, having regained his confidence and repaired his relationships, Brian felt ready to start his business coaching enterprise.

“I listened to podcasts of people who turned their lives around. I’d go to conferences for amazon sellers to network with other entrepreneurs.”

Brian has turned his life around 180 degrees, but he knows that overcoming addiction is a process and that the ordeal he went through made him the person he is today.

“You have to totally adopt a new lifestyle,” he says, “But it doesn’t have to happen overnight.”

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