Thirty-one-year-old Brandon H.’s young adulthood was riddled with the anguish of addiction and undesired paths, leaving him isolated from those he loved most. Through unwavering support from family, friends, a 12-step program, and the Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center (BMC) in Loma Linda, California, United States, he discovered that recovery is not just about healing oneself but rebuilding the bonds with family and nurturing the creative spirit within.
Brandon was introduced to substances at 14 years old, marked by the shadows of low self-esteem and social anxiety. These hardships led him to seek false refuge in drugs and alcohol. Brandon’s descent was swift as the substances numbed his insecurities.
His substance use continued through college and grew into addiction through his twenties. Keeping the severity of his addiction a secret from most people he was close to, Brandon spent time with others abusing substances, creating a cycle of substance use, poor relationships, and secrets.
“Looking back, I don’t remember laughing with some of the people I called my best friends,” Brandon said. “I spent a lot of time with them, yet we knew nothing about each other.”
After losing friends to substances, having thoughts of suicide, and then an honest conversation with a true friend who provided guidance, Brandon knew it was time to tell his mom the truth.
“I surrendered,” Brandon said. “There’s no other way to describe the relief of telling the people who truly care about you that you are addicted, have been secretive, and are choosing not to live a lie anymore.”
His mother directed him to a local 12-step program.
“I felt out of place. I was the youngest by far; I felt like I couldn’t relate to anyone there,” Brandon said. “But like I said, I surrendered and decided to be all in.”
Brandon committed and completed 11 of 12 steps. The final step of the 12-step program is being a sponsor for others beginning their recovery journey.
“I stopped at such a crucial step,” he said.
Brandon relapsed, and the cyclical nature of addiction began again.
Though he tried to keep it a secret, Brandon had already welcomed loved ones into his recovery journey, and they continued to have hope for their son, brother, and friend. Five people from the 12-step program hosted an intervention.
“They knew me again,” he said. “I realized at the second surrender how much I meant to them.”
Brandon enrolled in the Substance Use Recovery partial hospitalization program at the Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center. Five days a week for six weeks, he spent most of his time in group therapy learning about addiction and personal triggers, developing coping skills, and preventing relapse.
Paola Vidauri Luna is a clinical therapist at the BMC Substance Use Recovery and Wellness Center who watched Brandon enter and graduate from the program.
“Friendship and fellowship are essential to Brandon’s personal growth,” Vidauri Luna said. “He has graduated and continues to sponsor multiple individuals in our program, and it’s clear that he wants to give back like those who helped him through recovery.”
Brandon has carried a passion for making music and had lost touch with it during the darkest parts of his substance use. Initially it was difficult to reconnect with his creative side, but Brandon relearned to appreciate music, use it to express his experiences and where he’s going, and perform with a band.
Today, Brandon stands as a testament to the power of resilience and the healing energy of family and music. With the support of the BMC and the 12-step program, he has conquered addiction, rebuilt bridges with his loved ones, and found solace in his musical pursuits.
Brandon has embarked on a new chapter as a credentialed school music teacher. He is determined to be a positive influence on the next generation, offering support, guidance, and a listening ear to students who may be facing their own battles.