The effect of alcohol gave Mike Brown that extra little bit of courage. Having a few drinks helped him socialize, helped him face otherwise awkward and difficult situations.
When drinking, he had no trouble speaking in public or hitting a dance floor. But the alcohol was just the beginning. By the time he turned 17, he tried his first line of cocaine, casually handed to him at a party one night.
His addiction grabbed him hard and, over the next 20 years, he moved from one city to the next, hoping to find a solution wherever he landed. It has been a long journey to recovery, but Brown has been clean for four years because he took what he describes as the brave step and asked for help.
But that decision didn’t come easy. During his downward spiral, he said he packed up his hockey bag and moved to a new city quite regularly on the search for a “geographical cure.”
“That’s how I thought I was going to get over this thing—it wasn’t my fault, it was this city’s fault, it was that city’s fault,” Brown explained.
In the end, the addiction included crack cocaine and several attempts at suicide. He had lost everything that was important to him, including the support of his parents, who didn’t want to see their son die.
Brown’s dad called the ambulance after his last suicide attempt. Still, the drug use continued, Brown explained. But knowing how much he had disappointed his dad stuck with him.
Finally, he picked up the phone and called a friend, who had overcome a similar battle with addiction. The friend gave Mike some simple advice.
“He told me I had to make a choice—either you want to live, or you want to die,” Brown said. “And if I want to live, everything needed to change.”
Brown again packed up his hockey bag and headed for a new city, where he knew no one. He wanted a fresh start. He also checked himself into rehab and started getting the help he needed. Through supportive programs and a network of sober friends, he’s now found peace.
“I wake up in the morning and, for the first time in years, I hear the birds chirping,” Brown said. “My mom sends me texts every morning. I’m so grateful I still have my family in my life.”
Today, Brown is beaming with happiness. He and a few of his sober friends recently had a party. No one was drinking alcohol. No one had done any drugs. But, at one point, every single person in the room was dancing.