My name is Bryan Gue and I am person recovering from the disease of addiction. I grew up in Mount Airy, Maryland. My childhood I cannot say was a good one nor a bad one, for I have learned not to make convictions about such matters anymore. This, however has not always been the case.
As a child, I experienced a variety of circumstances that could be perceived as unhealthy or dysfunctional. My parents divorced when I was young and my brother and I experienced some physical abuse, neglect, and never really received any real guidance or direction. Most of my family has a history of drug and alcohol abuse which has led to generations of pain, hardship, regret, wasted talent, and poor coping skills to deal with life.
Not to be misleading, there was still love in my household, but the ability to love properly and effectively was not prevalent. There were a few years as an early adolescent where I was aware of the dysfunction in my family and didn’t want to grow up to be like them. Knowing that, I focused all my time and energy into school and sports, which both I seemed to excel at. During this time, I was living with my mother in Pennsylvania who had remarried. We lived on a golf course which is one of the sports where I showed tremendous talent. My mother and my stepfather drank and used drugs regularly and argued all the time which usually resulted in a physical altercation. I witnessed my mother being beaten on a regular basis and always had to intervene on the situation.
As my time went on in Pennsylvania, I developed a dream to go to Penn State University on a golf scholarship which at the time was very achievable. However, life had different plans for me. In April of 1995, my mother was killed in a car accident. She was drinking and driving and died on Easter Sunday of that year after being on life support for eight days. Needless to say, this changed my life forever. After she died, I had to move back to Maryland with my father who I hadn’t seen for over six years.
After moving back to Maryland, I was lost and emotionally withdrawn. There was a void in my life and in my soul and this is when drugs and alcohol became a part of my story. The traumatic experience of my mother’s death caused me so much pain and my anger grew immensely towards the world and towards God. Life didn’t make sense to me. I felt like life was unfair and that I was cheated in life. My perception about everything became truly cold.
My reality at this time, began supporting my jaded beliefs. The dog eat dog philosophy that I was witnessing in society and every man for himself mentality only helped compound the mental anguish I was experiencing. So, I began following what I was seeing from the world and what I perceived as being cool. Doing drugs, fighting, skipping school, having sex, are the behaviors I started to partake in. I wanted to be cool, I wanted to be accepted, I wanted to live a different life, and without knowing it, I was truly on a path to a different life.
I started with smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol. At first it was only a weekend thing but that quickly progressed to daily and then finally to every chance I could. I jumped head first into substance abuse and fell victim to the lavish deception of the fast-paced lifestyle. In the beginning, I was having fun and enjoyed how I felt and was totally oblivious to the problems I was creating. I always felt like there would be more time to get back on track and felt as though what I was doing wasn’t a big deal.
Further along in my addiction, my disease progressed to harder drugs such as LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, and eventually opiates. As my diseased progressed, so did my problems and consequences. I spent years in and out of jail, being homeless, lost good jobs and opportunities, destroyed relationships, and lost any self-worth or self-respect along the way. The feeling of hopelessness and self-hatred I had for myself was immense. I truly felt and thought that I was beyond change and just some sort of demon seed or unwanted child of God that was cursed for life.
Through my addiction, I tried many different things to stop using or at least control it but to no avail. I attempted giving others my money so I had no access to it, tried a geographical change and moved out of the state, tried just smoking weed, tried using in moderation, I tried working all the time so I didn’t have time to use, among other things, but nothing proved to be a permanent solution to my problem. The mental obsession was just too strong as well as inability to say no and not use.
My first experience in recovery came when I was twenty-five years of age and I went to my first treatment center. This was my first exposure to anything recovery related and it did provide a spark to my life that had been missing for years. Up to that point I was emotionally numb and did everything I could to block out reality. I just didn’t want to feel this pain I had deep inside my soul. This is the first time I felt genuine love in my heart since my mother’s death.
In recovery, I began attending twelve step meetings and developed a support network while I was living at a halfway house. My life did begin to change and it felt really good to be clean and sober. The real me, the person that had been locked away inside began to come out. Unfortunately, I didn’t work an honest and thorough enough program to sustain my sobriety and I relapsed.
After a five-month relapse, I went back to rehab. Again, my spirits were lifted and I was given another opportunity at life in recovery. This time I felt like I worked an honest and thorough program, built a huge network of sober friends and was working the steps. My life became really good especially from a material aspect, but I still had many issues that I failed to deal with and my disease struck again. The hopeless, self-defeating thoughts resurfaced and I still doubted myself. In all honesty, I failed to progress my spiritual life which I have found a solid recovery foundation must possess. I relapsed again after having a year clean and sober.
My relapse lasted around five months and I decided to go back to treatment and fortunately, I was able to once again find a program to accept me. This time I went to Massie in Cumberland, MD. While there, my counselor worked diligently on my grief issues with my mother, and wanted to concentrate on the lack of family support that I faced in life. I truly feel that part of my problem was that I didn’t receive the proper love and validation one receives from the family which resulted in self-pity for me and depression.
After I left treatment, I went to live at the Allegany House in Cumberland, MD. While there, I started a lifelong dream of mine by going to college. I was truly blessed with a great opportunity and learned exactly how intelligent I was and how much potential I possessed. I never believed these things about myself. My life became really good and my future was looking bright but again I didn’t maintain my spiritual growth and allowed life distractions to interfere with my recovery.
I relapsed again and this time I continued to use for the next five years. Opiates entered the picture during this time. I began using prescription pain medications which quickly progressed to heroin. Somehow, I maintained my college career through this relapse but my life was truly unmanageable. My habit was so bad I was shooting up in the bathroom in between classes. The mental obsession was so strong that asking for help was never an option. I would protect my ability to use over anything else.
In 2012, I had hit a bottom once again. I was thrown out of college and I was a complete mess. The pain I felt inside ruled my thoughts and the only thing that brought me relief was to use more. It was a vicious cycle. I found myself crawling back to treatment once again to seek help. Graciously, the health department and Massie unit once again accepted me.
After completing treatment, I moved to back to Frederick, MD to the Olsen House. Like all my other experiences in recovery, I was able to rebuild my life. I went back to college, this time at Hood University, was working, and was participating in twelve step groups. Each time I attempted recovery, I seemed to put more emphasis on the material aspects of life instead of concentrating on recovery itself or the real important things in life.
Once again, I relapsed and this time I overdosed. I don’t remember anything about the incident except that I woke up ten hours later in a hospital. Over the next several months I self-destructed every good thing in my life and found myself in all kinds of legal trouble. I did things I would never do sober but my addiction was so strong, I didn’t think or care about consequences. I just wanted to use at all costs.
In March of 2014 I was incarcerated and it ended up being the best thing to ever happen to me. Losing my freedom in the past never bothered me that much but this time was different. I reached the point to where I was completely ready to surrender. I was done fighting. I had to face some real truths about myself and truly try something different. I for once truly sought God and answers to life that had been holding me back with an open mind. I had to let go of my ideas, my beliefs, my perceptions about life.
After two years and two months of being incarcerated, my judge in Frederick County blessed me with the 8505/8507 program and I went to Mt. Manor for a six-month treatment program. The program was truly amazing and allowed me the opportunity to work on my recovery and dig deep on issues that had haunted me my entire life. The support and help I received there gave me hope and equipped me with the tools needed to sustain recovery.
Upon leaving there, I still had the issue of where I was going to live and of course financial issues. Thank God there was programs in place to help me with these difficulties. I moved to the Prodigal Sons House in Frederick, MD and the Up & Out Foundation helped me with the financial support needed to make a fresh start.
I mention all these things because I want people to try and understand addiction or at least acknowledge it. The state of Maryland and other agencies was there to help me time and time again and if they weren’t, there is no telling where I would be right now. I am living proof that people can change and people can recover. I am so grateful that there were people that didn’t give up on me or just view me as a useless addict. They showed me love and it brought out my ability to love again.
Today, I am living an extremely productive life. I have a full-time job, I am an assistant house manager at the Prodigal Sons House, I attend church and twelve step recovery groups, and I am approaching each day with a new-found hope. I can give back to my community and try and help others. I have been redeemed and transformed and it would have never been possible without the ones that came before me and God of course. A saying that I come to love, if there is a heartbeat, there is hope, I am living proof.