“For the first time, I was actually open to the process of true recovery as opposed to the lie I had been living for so long,” Bradley E. shares from the BTS teen lounge.
Unlike many addicts’ stories, Bradley’s early life was one of stability and opportunity. The middle child sandwiched between an older brother and younger sister, Bradley recalls growing up in a lazy Los Angeles suburb with loving parents. He also participated in a variety of sports, specifically swimming. Yet, despite this seemingly idyllic upbringing, Bradley remembers, “experiencing a lot of anxiety.” So much so that he began regularly going to therapy at the age of seven.
At age twelve he began smoking marijuana. “I was seeking connection and I found it through weed,” he recalls. By the time he reached high school, along with using, he was now selling weed to his peer group. During his sophomore year, he graduated to using Xanax to help him deal with his ever-increasing anxiety. “I also began experimenting with a variety of other drugs as well,” he explains.
Following high school, he enrolled at the University of Colorado. Early on school was fun and he enjoyed the Colorado life, complete with hiking and other outdoor activities. But during his sophomore year, a friend overdosed on heroin and he slipped back into his dependence on Xanax. “But I was just using the ‘depression’ from my friend’s death as an excuse to go back to abusing,” he relates. It got so bad that he spent the balance of that year locked in his room using drugs day and night, all the while feeling shame and guilt over his sudden spiral.
Friends and family understandably became concerned and at their behest, Bradley checked himself into a treatment center. In an ironic and devastating twist, “the only thing I got out of that experience was being introduced to harder drugs by some of the other patients, specifically meth,” he describes. Once out of treatment, with his drug use at an all-time high, Bradley blacked out after one particularly bad run, destroyed some property, and found himself arrested for felony destruction of property. To appease the courts and his parents, he once again returned to treatment, but it had very little positive effect on his ability to get clean or his relationship with his family. “I did a lot of damage to my relationship with my parents and siblings during that time,” he painfully recounts.
He ended up failing school and began a cycle of brief periods of sobriety followed by multiple relapses. In the summer of 2014, in yet another attempt to address his addictions, he returned to L.A. to seek treatment. However, it was very short-lived and he ended up being pulled from the facility and getting put on a 5150 psychiatric hold that escalated into a 5250, causing him to be hospitalized for twenty days. Once out, he checked into a sober living facility and for the next five months, he managed to stay sober. “I was introduced to A.A. in a real way for the first time. I became a member of a true community,” he shares. He even got a job at the facility and, for about seven more months, things seemed to be looking up. But despite his best efforts and the support of his fellow addicts, Bradley relapsed and went on a serious Xanax/Meth binge that lasted three weeks.
Following another black-out episode, “a friend spotted me walking down a street, called me an Uber, and got me to a detox facility,” he says. He eventually got connected to Lysa H. at Beit T’Shuvah and began the intake process. And on October 5, 2016 (his sober birthday), he entered the doorways of 8831 Venice Blvd. for the first time. But things didn’t start well for the serial relapser. “I felt like I knew everything already because of my job with A.A. at the sober living facility,” he remembers. And he was still detoxing pretty badly which added more difficulty to his ability to fully invest in the BTS recovery model.
But as mentioned earlier, he eventually began developing connections in the community and embracing the process. “I started taking ownership of my past transgressions and all the damage I had done,” he explains. He also reimmersed himself in the twelve steps and regularly attended groups to help him address his traumas as well as his desire to heal his fractured familial relationships.
Six months into his recovery, Bradley began a P.F. (Program Facilitator) internship at BTS. “That’s where my professional journey began. I loved helping residents and being a ‘safety net’ for people living and working here,” he proudly exclaims. Following that six-month stint, he was hired on as a full-time P.F. and eventually was promoted to P.F. Manager. It was also during this time that he met his future wife, Lexy, who was working in the Development Department at BTS. “I quickly fell in love with her and we eventually got married in July, 2021. She’s my rock and has helped me through my journey following treatment,” he exuberantly explains. Shortly after meeting Lexy, he began his CDAC (Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor) training process, which ultimately culminated in him being further elevated to the position of Counselor. “Being a counselor enabled me to connect with people on a different level. I built strong relationships with my clients and co-workers in the process,” he recounts.
He continued as a counselor for the next two years but then left to perform private case management. “That work afforded me a ton of professional growth but I missed the community aspect I received while working at Beit T’Shuvah,” he shares. And then four months ago, he received a call from Zac J. asking him to return to BTS to help revamp the Extended Care (E.C.) Program. And as he relates, “I now get to be creative in developing a new vision for this secondary level of recovery for E.C. clients at Beit T’Shuvah.”
But as proud as he is of his time and work experiences at BTS, he’s equally, if not more, fulfilled by the healing he has enjoyed in rebuilding the trust and re-fortifying the love between him and his family. He concludes by saying, “My recovery journey has greatly helped me repair that long-time family rift and we are at a better place now than we ever were previous to my addiction struggles.” And that healing has had an additional side benefit for BTS as his mom, Jackie, can be seen around 8831 helping prepare Challah for Shabbat services and filling up the BTS garden with fresh fruits and vegetables.
The future is full and bright for Bradley as he embarks upon this latest chapter in his life. Excited by this second go-around at BTS, as well as Lexy’s upcoming ten-year anniversary of her own sobriety, Bradley enthusiastically looks forward to the new challenges awaiting him as he continues his professional and spiritual growth. And we all look forward to the innovation and inspiration he will undoubtedly provide to those residents learning to reintegrate back into life after Beit T’Shuvah. Welcome home, Bradley.