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 $*&#!”