Jason Brown, His Recovery and Life After CORE

Jason Brown, His Recovery and Life After CORE

Meet Jason Brown!  We talked to Jason this month because he can speak from personal experience about life after CORE.   He first came to us 7 years ago.  Today, he lives at his home in Hollister, works for EnerSys/Northstar in Springfield, and enjoys an active social life among friends.  He has fully restored the bonds with his family, too. 

Jason has a lighthearted personality and is well liked by everyone.  If the Reader were to press us for specifics, our first thought is to compare him with Doc Brown from Back to the Future.  He’s obviously brilliant, and sometimes distracted by his own thoughts.  In fact, upon Jason’s arrival at CORE, someone called him Squirrel, and the nickname stuck! 

Beneath his friendly and pleasant exterior, however, Jason remains earnest about recovery.  Addiction is harmful, always.  In some cases, it’s fatal.  When it comes to addiction, Jason knows first hand about loss.

His story really begins during the 90’s.  He grew up in a good middle class family.  His father built show cars, and Jason learned the trade first hand.  He was a straight-A student until, at the age of fifteen, he discovered alcohol and marijuana.  While his grades suffered only a little for this, he was assaulted one day during a drug deal.  His injuries were serious enough that he dropped out of school.  

Jason went on to take the GED exam.  His test scores caught the attention of a local college.  He was recruited and earned his associate’s degree in applied science for electronics and computer technology.  From there, he found his way into the world of high tech.  To his credit, Jason was on the team that developed touch technology for Apple’s first iPhone.  

Throughout this time, Jason was still drinking.  He tells us, “I drank every day, from 15 to 37.”  In retrospect, he considers himself to have been a functional alcoholic. Jason’s life really began to unravel when he began using methamphetamines, however.  He went on a spree lasting 6 years and lost everything – his career, home, and retirement account. 

He came to live in an old camper at his father’s shop.  His family wanted to help.  With this intent, his father retired and turned over the car business to him. By this time, however, Jason was powerless.  Instead of making a go at the family business, Jason was staying up 4 to 5 days a week, high on meth. He clearly had a problem.  It was his sister who appeared one day to confront him.  She staged a formal intervention, urging him to seek help:

I was burning bridges right and left. So my sister comes to the shop, and it looks like a yard sale.  I had stuff tweaked out everywhere.  She’s crying, and she brings this packet, and she tells me about CORE.   She says, Jason, what are you doing with your life?  I think you need help.

Unfortunately, Jason wasn’t ready to listen yet.  Things got so bad that his dad had to evict him from the property.  The one-time tech phenom was now homeless.   

To compound matters, soon after Jason was jailed on an unpaid, speeding ticket.  Maybe for the first time in his life, Jason felt completely and utterly alone.  “It was Christmas,” he recalls, “I was in jail.  My family didn’t call.  Noone put money on my books.  Nothing.  They were done with me.”  Upon his release, Jason remained homeless.  He walked the streets and spent time in fast food places to stay warm.  Jason vividly recalls how cold the streets become at winter.

Misery finally brought him to ask for help.  His family, it turns out, had not forgotten him.  They immediately sprang into action.  His sister, who was intent on him going to CORE, made the appropriate calls.  His parents not only sent him to Branson, they also paid for his first month in the program and living expenses.

Looking back on his first days at CORE, two things come to Jason’s mind.  First, while he had ample personal experience with addiction, he knew next to nothing about recovery.  Second, he remembers that everybody thought he was crazy.  Our staff addressed both of these issues.

Tweakers can present special challenges, to be sure, but we just wanted him to make progress in his program.  Our staff gave Jason rather pointed guidance, not only with respect to working the 12 Steps, but also in regard to earning a living.  He was receptive to both.  He told us:

I thought I was going to come down here, go to rehab, and get cured.  How little did I know.  Seeing the cycle of addiction, I saw myself.  CORE kicked off my journey.  I wasn’t in recovery until I came here.  I didn’t have a relationship with God, and CORE led me to that.  And now, from what I learned working the 12 Steps, I can deal with everyday problems.  I’ve learned how to process them and deal with them.” 

For many clients, it’s not possible to pinpoint the exact moment of recovery.  In Jason’s case, it’s enough to note that, while working the 12 Step program, he began to live again.   His obsession for drugs and alcohol lifted.  He became interested in helping newcomers.  By the time of his commencement ceremony, many friends and loved ones arrived to speak on his behalf and celebrate his recovery.  

Career-wise, Jason sought out a new career and found it in Springfield, with Northstar Battery (working with robots!)  Jason also was accepted in our Second Mile group, and he became a manager at our Condor House on the outskirts of Hollister.  Jason reminisced about the men he sponsored while at Condor.  His greatest satisfaction, he says, was watching them go on to sponsor others.  

Now for the hard part of the story.  In addition to everything above, Jason also fell in love.  While we must be brief here, he spoke to us at length about this, because of its importance to his testimony.   In short, the couple fell in love when both were early in recovery.  Jason recovered.  She did not.  He lived through the heartbreak of loving somebody who was active in her addiction.  She could not, or would not, see his way of life.  Tragically, her addiction took everything, including her life.  

Jason spoke openly about the depth of his loss, saying “Every day, I would wake up with a giant ball of anxiety inside.  That’s grief.  I’d lost friends before.  When I was getting high, one of my good friends died.  This one, I felt.  It messed me up.”  He grieved for more than a year.  While such devastation might send some back to the bottle, Jason recommitted himself to the 12 Step program. 

Within weeks of his beloved’s passing, Jason began teaching recovery classes, and he’s been presenting ever since.  Moreover, he became a student of the Bible.  “I had to, for Jesus and God to heal me,” he says.  His Bible studies, which began in desperation, have now become part of his daily routine.  He awakes at 4:00 a.m., every morning, just so he can spend time in the Bible and in prayer.

In time, Jason became ready to strike out on his own.  While he moved out of CORE, he bought a house in Hollister to keep close to his recovery community.  “I always said to my guys and wanted to set the example, that I needed this in my life.  That’s why I bought a house here and not Springfield.”  He has a shop next to his house that he puts to good use.  Jason has been working on cars and building some really unique, steampunky looking furniture.  His latest project is a fish tank.  It’s so large that it could be mistaken for a baptistry!

He still works at Northstar, now in a supervisory role, and he loves his job.

On the personal front, Jason has reunited with his family.  It began with communication early in his recovery.  His family was cautious at first.  His sister attended his commencement and publicly read a message by his parents, who were traveling out of state.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  Now, they see each other and talk all the time.  His dad even parked a boat in Jason’s yard, which is a stone’s throw from the lake.  The boat guarantees they see each other all the time.

In addition to family, he spends time with friends, too.  But – is he still single?  “Yes,” he says, “and I’m good with it.”  Throughout his youth, Jason thought life was about getting married and having kids.  Today, his priorities have changed, his highest priority being “to know God and to carry out His will.”  He still dates, but he’s patiently waiting on God to put the right person in his life, at the right time.

Jason actively devotes time to helping others, too.  He has taught classes both within and without CORE.  He’s also taken a spot as board member for a local charity whose mission is to help addicts and alcoholics get into recovery programs. 

In addition to the above, he attends several church services each week, and he still keeps close to CORE.  “I still show up every week.  This is my home church, where I belong.  It’s still home,” he tells us.  We at CORE are so very proud of Jason.  We’re happy for his newfound life in recovery.  He always will be welcome here!  


We really covered a lot of ground in Jason’s interview!  We thank him for patiently devoting several hours to us in preparation for this article.  Alas, it seems the only thing we didn’t cover in any detail is his latest car project.  Argh – but, no matter!  For this part, we’ll just make it up.  We only need form a mental picture of this really cool, futuristic metallic looking car.  And we imagine Jason, contemplating its performance, cooly remarking “If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you’re gonna see some serious $*&#!”

The 12 Steps: the Gold Standard for Recovery

The 12 Steps: the Gold Standard for Recovery

People inquiring into substance abuse treatment are commonly advised to seek an “evidence-based” recovery program.  Evidence-based means that it’s established by the latest scientific research.  What works and what doesn’t is studied and published in reputable scientific journals.   As a recovery provider, CORE’s interest is in providing the most reliable, evidence-based treatment available.  That’s what we’re about.

The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) is the leading journal for systematic reviews in health care.  CDSR is internationally recognized as the highest standard in evidence-based health care.  Significantly, it recently weighed in on what works best in addiction treatment.

Its review, titled “Alcoholics Anonymous and Other 12-Step Programs for Alcohol Use Disorder,” shows that the 12 Steps are still the gold standard for recovery. 

The lead researcher is a psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School.  The findings are unambiguous and conclusive: 12 Step programs not only help people get sober, but they also have much higher rates of continuous sobriety compared with other therapies (like cognitive behavioral therapy).  The numbers are impressive, showing the 12 Steps are up to 60% more effective than all other evidence-based therapies. 

Here at CORE, we see this study as confirming our decades of experience as a recovery provider. It also raises an important question, to wit, why is this so?

After all, the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were published in 1939.  Since that time, billions of dollars have been spent to advance the understanding and treatment of addiction.  New pharmaceuticals have been developed, along with many different psychotherapies.  Why then, after all this time, money, and scientific advancements, do the 12 Steps remain unparalleled in effectiveness for the treatment of addiction?  What do they offer above and beyond other, more modern therapies?  

To answer this question, we have to look at the key insights of AA founder and Big Book author Bill Wilson.  Like so many interested persons of his day, Wilson well knew that the addict’s problem had both biological and psychological components.  Notwithstanding, he saw that addiction is best understood and treated as a spiritual malady.  While his approach was highly unorthodox in scientific circles, time after time Wilson’s fledgling AA groups got results even where the medical profession failed.  Their successes continually showed that, once the spiritual illness is overcome, the sufferer straightens out mentally and physically, and recovers.

This spiritual malady, moreover, is the addict’s own egocentric nature.  “Selfishness – self-centeredness!” the book observes, “That, we think, is the root of our troubles.”

In practical terms, the addict self-sabotages nearly every aspect of life by exerting self-centered expectations and demands upon everybody and everything around them.  They feel hurt and anger, or are overcome with self-pity and indignation, when things don’t go to their exacting standards.  They become restless, irritable, and discontent unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort that comes from drinking, or drugging, as the case may be.  Even though the addict may recognize their drinking and drugging is harmful, a period of abstinence only highlights their malaise.  Without fail, they will drink or drug again in order to experience that ease and comfort.  They are helpless to do otherwise.  

Modern researchers often speak of addiction as affecting free will, of stripping the addict of their capacity for decision-making.  In the context of the 12 Step program, we say the addict is powerless over alcohol and drugs.  Regardless of nomenclature, the addict is caught in a vicious cycle from which there is no apparent escape.  

Now for the 12 Step solution.  The addict’s troubles are very much of their own making.  They arise out of self, and the various manifestations of self in the addict’s daily experience.  Commonly prescribed treatments for addiction, by contrast, address matters such as the addict’s conduct, changing their drinking or drugging habits, or they teach methods to calm the mind, reduce anxiety, respond to environmental triggers, reform social networks, and the like.  Such methods may well be appropriate for certain classes of problem drinkers and drug users, but for the addict and alcoholic, no.  

For this latter group, the problem user “is an extreme example of self-will run riot,” as the Big Book observes.  The addict at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink or drug.  “Except in a few, rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense.  His defense must come from a Higher Power.”

The primary objective of the 12 Steps is to rid the addict of selfishness.  Both the problem and solution are spiritual:

“Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness.  We must, or it kills us!  God makes that possible.  And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid.  Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to.  Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power.  We had to have God’s help.” 

Does this really work?  We can say, wholeheartedly, yes!  The science backs it up.  The program must be followed fearlessly and thoroughly but, as a rule, it absolutely works.  In our experience at CORE, recovery happens for everybody who works the 12 Steps.  The obsession to drink or to drug is lifted right out of the user, who returns to wholeness and health.  For the one who recovers, moreover, the 12 Steps become a practical plan for living.  

The Big Book offers two different lists, found on pages 52 and 83-84, which aptly contrast the experiences of the addict living in self (“the bedevilments”) with the blessings for those of us who recover (“the promises”).  We set them forth below for consideration:  

The bedevilments of self The promises of recovery
We were having trouble with personal relationships.We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away.
We couldn’t control our emotional natures.We will comprehend the word serenity and we know peace.
We were a prey to misery and depression.Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
We couldn’t make a living.Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
We had a feeling of uselessness.That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
We were full of fear.We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We were unhappy.We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people.No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.

The foregoing describes two very different, real experiences.  The first is the addict who pursues a self-centered existence.  The second is the addict who walks the path of a God-centered life.  Interested readers will readily see themselves in one, or the other.

We know that some may feel hesitant about a recovery program based on spiritual principles.  Some of us felt that way, too, upon first coming to the program.  We hadn’t anticipated this.  Could it really be that straightforward, we asked.  We reacted like others who initially balked, but there was no denying the  results for those who practiced the Steps:

When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God.  Our ideas did not work.  But the God idea did.”     

The program works.  If the Reader is seeking the highest quality, evidence-based treatment for substance abuse, we invite you to contact us at CORE.  For more than a quarter century, thousands of our clients have gone on to lead happy, purposeful, and completely substance-free lives.  The AA promises of recovery can be fulfilled in you, too.  They will always materialize if you work for them.  We’ll show you how to do it.    

Additionally, we at CORE will continue to support progress in the sciences, medicine, and counseling therapies, as they pertain to the terrible problem of addiction.  Used properly, they can be extremely beneficial in assisting a return to health.  For an effective recovery program, we continue to approve the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous – the gold standard of recovery.