I Went to a Party at 14 and Came Home at 37

addiction recovery

It was a painful road for Brown, but he finally found professional success and, more important, peace of mind

By Anthony Brown

I went to a party at 14 and came home at 37.

When I was nine years old, I woke up one night to steal food from the refrigerator. I discovered my mother lying on the floor in a puddle of blood with a gunshot wound to the head. Thank God she lived, but a part of me died. For five years after that, all I can remember is getting beatings from her with belts, switches, extension cords or whatever else she could find. Thank God for the bottle of gin under the kitchen sink. I started counting the number of days that I could stay high when I was 14 years old.

I left home at that age, addicted to whatever I could put into my body to blot out my existence. I drank, smoked weed, tripped on acid, ate amphetamines and injected opioids. Abandoned houses and the streets of Ohio are where I dwelled. I then went to California, where I found PCP, cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. These drugs still couldn’t free me. The walls I built around myself for protection as a child turned into the very prison that had contained me since early adolescence.

I sold drugs because that is all the eighth-grade failure that was me knew. As a result I experienced numerous trips to prison in my late 20s and early 30s. I was insane because I thought this was normal. I was dirty, disheveled, desperate and dying.

Now I have a college degree, two nursing licenses and many other certifications hanging on my walls. I had heard that I should not quit before the miracle happened, and I discovered that miracles are endless.”

One person finally heard me, or maybe I was just ready to listen. I was sick and tired of being tired and sick. I finally surrendered on March 29, 1999. I begged God to prove to me that He was still in the miracle business, and the hand of recovery was laid not just before me but upon me. I was told that if I wanted what was offered and was willing to go to any lengths to get it, I should just take the steps. That was the start of my journey 22 years ago.

I was told by a higher power to put the same amount of effort into this new way of life as I did with the old. So I went back to school. I had some struggles along the way, but in meetings I was reminded that the journey is about progress, not perfection.

Now I have a college degree, two nursing licenses and many other certifications hanging on my walls. I had heard that I should not quit before the miracle happened, and I discovered that miracles are endless.

My desire is to help others, and for that I am truly grateful. I am now employed as the director of nursing in a psychiatric hospital and as an instructor at a community college. I have published a book. More importantly, I finally found that peace I had been looking for in a life that I had only dreamed about.

I went to a party at 14 and came home at 37. Thank God it is over.

To learn more about Brown’s journey, you can read his memoir, From Park Bench to Park Avenue: One Man’s Journey Out of Homelessness.

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