It was a frigid Monday morning on February 6, 2017. I was so afraid to leave my apartment in Brooklyn. I
reached the point where I could not trust myself to stay alive. My addiction had me exactly where it
wanted me. I was filled with fear, guilt, shame and–most importantly–loneliness.
The last 14 months had been a whirlwind. I had been to detox twice, two 30-day rehabs, a few sober
living facilities, and countless AA meetings. I just could not surrender to my disease. I was drinking and
using all day, every day.
I never wanted to hurt myself before, but on this particular day I was afraid to take the subway. In my
current state, I just might jump. I looked in the mirror and hated what I saw. I called my mom one more
time. She had heard it all. Once again, I tried to dictate my own terms for treatment. She listened, and
then cut me off: “When will you get it–you keep making your own decisions”! She had probably said
This day, it stuck. I surrendered. I stumbled into a local detox and then went to a treatment center in
Virginia. I didn’t return to Brooklyn for an inevitable relapse scenario, Instead I headed south to Florida
and started working a real program of recovery. I found a Sponsor. I became part of a great group of
recovering young people like me from all over the country. Recovery became fun. Instead of drinking
and drugging with fellow users, I made authentic friends. Soon, I was managing a sober living house
serving a population of men off the street or recently discharged from prison. I helped to integrate them
back into the community. I realized how lucky I was in my own upbringing.
I recognize now that I have two loving parents and an amazing older brother and sister. My family
always supported me as I grew up in western Massachusetts. They encouraged me as I excelled at high
school sports like golf and basketball. When I moved away, they didn’t abandon me even as I became a
resentful alcoholic showing not an ounce of gratitude.
My parents worked their own recovery, which included educating themselves and working on their own
self-care. My mother, especially, learned how it’s possible to set boundaries with love. Despite her
previous emotions of anger, fear, shame and isolation, she moved forward with an approach that was all
about communication. She directly told me: “Brian, I will NOT support your disease any longer.”
She said she WOULD support my recovery. And today, for me, recovery is a beautiful thing. It’s been
over 6 years since I stopped drinking and gambling my life away. I have engaged in an amends process
with my parents, siblings, and friends. I returned to the college campus, first at Fairfield University as
House Manager for the Collegiate Recovery Program under Lisa Arnold. Now I’m at my alma mater,
Sacred Heart University, leading SHU’s recovery program. I tell everyone that recovery is a team sport.
Fun and fellowship is part of the healing process.
Six years ago, when I first entered treatment in the middle of winter, I was told “You will have a life
beyond your wildest dreams”. I was skeptical. I didn’t believe it.
Today, I know now it is absolutely a fact. I just got married. I have an amazing wife and enduring
relationships with friends and family. I feel a power and confidence I never knew. Recovery IS possible
for those who truly seek it.