Pandemic, addiction leaves Brian at the end of his rope
When Brian started drinking at 19, it was a very moderate habit, he said. He had grown up in a good family in Orange County with his parents, three brothers and one sister. His dad was a truck driver. “I had basically a good upbringing, and didn’t get into any trouble,” he said.
Despite losing his mother when he was 8, Brian stayed on the straight and narrow. But later in life, Brian’s aunt and only sister died less than a year apart. “That’s when my drinking started really becoming a problem,” he said. “I was pretty close to them, especially since I had lost my mom. I always had a stepmom, but it just isn’t the same.”
Brian worked in lumber and other construction trades. He got married and had two boys. “My marriage ended after 12 years, because of the drinking. My boys are 35 and 27 now,” Brian said. “I’m not in contact with them at the moment—it’s been quite a few years. That’s one of the few things I want to change. “I’m not in contact with my dad, my immediate family, my brothers, all of them, because of my drinking. I would go to work, come home, and start drinking. For the longest time, that’s how my life was. I would take care of the stuff that really needed to be taken care of, and other than that, I’d just stay home and drink.”
Things came to a head last year when Covid-19 struck. “I was about to get laid off—I wasn’t considered an essential worker,” Brian said. “I ended up quitting and living in a motel for two months. Basically the bottom fell out all at once. It all came down to my drinking. “I got a really bad case of alcohol poisoning at the start of (last) year. I started trying to get into rehab. I ended up at the warming shelter. They told me about the Mission there. They said it was Christian-based. I was all for it.
“Before my mom passed away, I don’t ever remember going to church,” Brian added. “After she passed, we started to go to church regularly as a family. When I was a sophomore in high school, though, I stopped attending. It was then that my dad felt that it should be more my decision, and he left it up to me. At the time, I just thought, ‘I don’t have to go? Then I’m not going.’ Aside from a couple years during my marriage, I hadn’t gone to church since high school.”
Brian got to the Mission in June. “I was scared I guess you could say. I was making a life-changing decision,” he said. “I had never tried to stop or get help before, if I’m being honest. It’s taken a bit, but I’m getting to know the bible. I just keep reading what I can and learning about the Lord the best that I can. I want to try to continue to follow him. It’s a little tough sometimes. It’s something new to me. It’s still a little bit of work, but I’m trying to learn as much as I can while I’m here.”
Pastor John Schmidt, the Mission’s Life Recovery Program manager, has been key to keeping Brian focused, he said. “He is such a great person. He takes the time to talk to you, and he doesn’t yell at you or get mad at you. He’s one of the best, I guess you could say.”
Brian has been sober for six months. After he graduates, he’d like to continue on to the Transitional Living Program. “I feel great,” Brian said. “The little things don’t bother me like they used to. If I can, I’d like to stay and help out with the Mission. That’s something I’d enjoy doing. I want to get to know the Lord better, have a good laugh, always do what’s right, and try to be a productive human being.”