A Recovery Story
The day Brian showed up at Genesis House, he had lost everything. Brian, looking much older than his 26 years, was once a star athlete and on the honor roll. He described his life growing up as “normal,” financially secure, with parents and siblings that supported him.
Brian’s story is just one among the thousands told every year within the drug and alcohol treatment programs offered through Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan (LSS). In high school, Brian and his friends began drinking alcohol and at times smoking marijuana. This seemingly innocent beginning spiraled as he experimented with prescription pain pills, eventually leading him to try heroin. Brian’s addiction progressed quickly and he soon dropped out of college, overdosed twice, and lost his job, vehicle and home.
Genesis House is a 12-bed, transitional residential treatment facility in Waukesha, Wis. operated by LSS. It was there, the supportive therapists and counselors at Genesis House helped Brian realize this disease of addiction had taken root and he had to take responsibility for his recovery. At first Brian wasn’t sure of his therapist, Isaac, but now shares his gratitude for the therapy and guidance he received. “I came to love the guy because he always had my back.”
Brian also had the steadfast support of his family. His parents were consumed with worry and were dealing with their own guilt and feelings of helplessness. While Brian worked hard in treatment, and once again came to believe in himself and his ability to maintain recovery, his parents engaged in support groups for affected family members. They have learned how to detach from Brian’s addiction with healthy boundaries and love for their son.
When Brian looks back he never anticipated this would be his path. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would end up here. I used to look at people with addictions as losers and that they got what they had coming to them for even doing drugs in the first place.”
Brian is now two years clean and sober, continues to attend recovery support groups in the community and is regularly seen at Genesis House. He frequently drops in to say hello, and is a mentor to the current residents. He knows that any consumption of alcohol or other drugs will undoubtedly lead him back to his addiction.
Brian remembers something he heard in a support group that helped him understand the power of addiction, “While you are working hard at your recovery, your addiction is out there doing pushups in the parking lot.” In other words, “You’re never out of the woods with this thing. What we all have is a daily reprieve as long as we keep our heads in recovery. I wouldn’t trade what I have now for anything. My recovery is what has given me my family, my self-respect, and my life back. I don’t ever want to forget that.”