Our country is experiencing a drug epidemic. 100 people die a day from drug overdoses. Heroin is taking out entire cities. People are becoming hopelessly addicted to painkillers. Meth labs are everywhere.
But all’s not lost. There is hope. There is healing. Today we are sharing with you a story of one of our friends, a graduate of Vertava Health Texas, formerly The Treehouse, Brandon.
Brandon’s story is one of consequences and pain, but also hope and inspiration. This may mirror your life. This may mirror the life of your loved one. We want you to know that addiction can be treated and a fulfilling life can be had. Brandon is proof. Read on.
What is your background? When did you start using?
It all began 3-4 years ago after I graduated college. I never had any trauma in my life – everything in my life was actually really good. I was accomplished, an athlete, a college graduate. But I think I just got bored with myself. So, I tried Oxycontin and I liked it.
Oxycontin took me by storm. I didn’t realize how bad it was going to get. I started off just taking 1 or 2 here of there, and then it became more and more. I didn’t know what “dope sick” meant – I thought I’d just be fine the next day. But by the time you figure it out, it’s a little too late.
What happened after that?
I was using on a regular basis. I would lie to myself saying, “You’re not an addict – you went to work, you got everything done, you just happen to use pills.” I didn’t want to hear that word. But my excuses were just that – excuses. I was lying to myself.
At first, no one knew. My parents didn’t know. But I was changing. I was becoming a different person, and when I looked at myself in the mirror – like, really looked at myself – which was rare, it wasn’t pretty.
I had a second job: Getting high. I’d wake up every morning worried about being sick or not being able to get anything. I was used to having a lot of energy, but by 1 or 2PM, I was shot. I tried to justify it, making up lies.
How did your addiction progress?
My whole life changed. I wasn’t the funny, nice, sweet guy I was had been. By the third year of using, people started piecing it together – I had lost 50 pounds. I had always been athletic, in the gym everyday, two hours a day – but I wasn’t focused on working out anymore. I would lie and tell people I was trying to lose weight.
My immediate family started asking if everything was alright. My grandpa kept bringing up stories about people he knew whose kids or grandkids were on heroin. Finally, one day – he flat out asked me if I had a problem with drugs – and if I did, to let him know and he would help me.
That talk got in my head for a little bit, and for a few months I slowed it down.
But by October, November – I started getting crazy again, taking tons of pills and draining my bank account. I was spending everything I had. I was working 40-60 hours per week, making great money – but I had nothing to show for it.
How did you get into The Treehouse?
One day, my parents looked at my bank account. They sat me down with my brother and my sister on Christmas Eve, and told me they were worried. I was doing more than they thought, and believed I needed help. I didn’t know what to say. I was ashamed, embarrassed and disappointed. My little sister, who had always looked up to me was crying.
I’m 25 years old. If I didn’t want to go to rehab, I they couldn’t force me. But I thought about it and asked myself – “How long am I going to do this?” I was exhausted all the time; it was all I could do to get through an eight hour work day. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.
A few days later, I sat down with my dad and told him I was going to rehab. I knew someone who had gone to California, so I found that place and booked my flight.
But my dad said he had been looking online and had talked to someone about The Treehouse. He really wanted me to talk to this guy, Andrew. So I gave him a call, to appease my dad. Andrew – he’s a real dude, you can tell the difference. He wasn’t all about the sale, like the other rehab I had talked to. He cared about getting me into the right place and really getting me help. And I had faith in him – it was my one shot at sobriety.
So, I changed my flight and my plans and went to The Treehouse.
What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself at The Treehouse?
The Treehouse was my first rehab. I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about it or what path I was going to go down. I tried to be open-minded and went to groups and went to a trauma meeting. But I just had no idea what it was or why I was addicted. I was so far into my addiction, I just didn’t know. I started getting angry because I couldn’t figure it out.
I had a tough time wrapping my head around it all. When I talked to my therapist, I told him I was used to doing everything on my own – and I would only ask for help if I really needed it. I started reflecting on myself, having deep conversations with other people – and I realized, there’s not a special recipe to get sober. It has to be about what works for me. There are millions and millions of people in recovery, and there are millions and millions of ways to go about it.
I did the ziplining and the wilderness classes – but ultimately, I made my own plan. I knew part of my sobriety was going to be working on my me and focusing on bringing the old me back.
What would you say keeps you sober each day?
My main reason is my mom, dad, and sister. I’m so tired of disappointing them. My sister is scared to be around me. I fell asleep behind the wheel with her in the car once, and she had to grab the steering wheel. She’s scared. I’m tired of seeing my parents’ faces distraught. My mom – she’s just this bundle of joy – and to see her unhappy just tourments me.
Also, even though I was only using for 3 years – I forgot how beautiful and special life is. I was nervous that when I got sober, that it wouldn’t be as good. That’s a huge drive of mine. I’m not drained, my personality is back – the old me is back, and people love me. I don’t want to go back.
I was always into the gym, but when I was using, I stopped working out. I became gaunt and shriveled up. I hated it. But I’m getting back to what I love and people are noticing it and complimenting me – and that feels really good.
What would you tell someone about The Treehouse?
The Treehouse couldn’t be better. They push it down your throat, but they back it up 200%. It’s family there. Real family. They understand that it’s YOUR sobriety and help you search for your sobriety in the way that you need it. The staff is amazing, and they’re really there for you. They’ll bend over backwards to help you and make you comfortable.
It is tough at first – really tough. I hit a rough patch from about day 10 – day 20. But you’ve got to stick it out and it will be worth it.
What would you tell someone who is maybe walking a similar path that you did?
That’s a tough question. Deep down in your heart, you have to want it. They can give you all the tools but you really have to want it. So ask yourself: “Are you done? Are you really done?”
At first, I couldn’t swallow my pride. I worried how I’d be looked at by everyone if I went to rehab. But you know what? I would have to say people don’t look at you any differently. People say it’s awesome; it’s huge. It’s harder to go to rehab than it is to stay home and keep doing what you’re doing. Going to rehab isn’t something to be ashamed of.
Let the program work and worth the program. You’re there to work on you. You only have 30, 60, 90 days to do it. It’s a lot of emotions, but it’s your chance to lay off from the outside world and focus on you – and it is absolutely worth it.