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Brandon Leslie

When I was a child my parents took me to church. I always knew to fear the Lord but never knew His love and mercy. At the age of 18 I was raped, and this is when my drug use began. I began to smoke marijuana in high school and drinking quickly followed. I always felt out of place in school and was always bullied and the rape was a few of the reasons why I started down the path of using substances. I found out that when I used I was more relaxed and felt like I was in control, not knowing that the drugs and alcohol were slowly taking over.

When 9/11 hit the country I knew I wanted to do all I could to help, but I had to quit doing the drugs in order to join the military. As my drug use decreased my drinking increased. I left for the Navy on October 22, 2003 with a passable drug screen. During my time in the Navy I did a tour to Iraq and a tour to Afghanistan. When I was in port all I wanted to do was drink. During the end of my 4 year naval career I got injured and had to have multiple knee surgeries. The surgeries were my excuse to start my drug use again. The day I left the military was the last day I drank a drop of alcohol, and at this time all I did was substitute drinking for a new love, OxyContin. My favorite way to use was IV injection. I had used off and on for 6 years. I found myself in multiple rehabs (7 to be exact). When I wasn’t in treatment I stole, manipulated, lied, and did all that I could for the drug.

In the summer of 2013 I was tired of living. A voice in my head told me to kill myself, “it would be a selfless act and in time my parents would heal from it and the financial burden would no longer be on their shoulders.” I hung myself. I woke up on the floor with a twisted ankle and tears in my eyes. I went to a rehab for 4 days and left afterwards not ready to quit my love. Six months later I went to a detox center for two weeks and they got me into a treatment center called Belle Grove Springs.

Describe your aha moment?
January 20, 2014 I entered through the doors of Belle Grove Springs for a 37 day program. My family had given up all hope in me with good reason. I had been to eight different rehabilitation centers with no intention of getting better because I was simply getting clean long enough to go back into the streets with getting a cheap high. Although I was tired of the lifestyle, I had learned to play the game pretty well.

During the month of February 2014 the loving staff at Belle Grove Springs began to tell me exactly what I needed to hear, but I was angry at God not because of
the rape that I had experienced at the age of 18 and the two deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan because by this time I had become numb to those experiences, but I found myself angry because God had never spoken to me. Being raised in church, praying and reading His word, I realized I was living a life of “religion.”  February 18, 2014 while lying in bed at Belle Grove Springs I got real and expressed my anger to God. That moment chills ran down my back and the Holy Spirit spoke to me saying “you’re doing your own will and not mine.” That was the turning point in my life. That night I gave my life to Jesus Christ and began to follow Him.

Describe the feelings and emotions while in active addiction?
Numb would be the word. The not knowing or caring for anyone or anything. I was angry at life and myself. Unforgiveness also, not wanting to forgive others or myself. What is the driving force that keeps you going when times get tough? My personal relationship with Jesus. God has also put great people in my life my friends and family are big driving force. I know I can't do this alone. What advice do you have for the addict that is still struggling? I know it’s tough I know you feel like there is no way out. I was once in your shoes. It can be done you can do it. God loves you and has a purpose for your life. If God can do it for me, I know in my heart he can do it for you.

What obstacles or roadblocks have you encountered along your recovery journey?
My biggest obstacle happen last weekend when my Grandmother passed away. She was one of the few who believed in me. Overcoming the loss of a loved one has been a concern of mine. But God comforted me in my time of weakness. In the difficult times I turn to God. I have learned to always trust in him.

What is something you want people who have never struggled with addiction to know?
No one wants to be addicted. It’s a disease that can be managed. Ignoring it will not make it go away. We all need to come together and be a part of the solution.

What advice do you have for family members of person in active addiction?
First off, God bless you. I don't know what you are going through only through my parents do I know and at times I feel that's not enough. Love, Love conquers all so don't give up. Put your faith in the Lord for he hears your cries and knows what is best. Get educated. You're not alone in this fight others know exactly what you are going through seek them and help each other.

Closing thoughts:
The past can't be changed. It is what it is but today we can all stand firm, draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough. God Bless You All.