Brandon will graduate in January 2024 from the year-long program at Adult & Teen Challenge Ohio Valley and he plans to start a new life.
His road to get where he is now wasn’t an easy one. “I was battling a 10-year addiction, it was like off and on,” the Youngstown native said. “I didn’t really realize I had an addiction the first five years.” It started with job losses and led to hurting loved ones, ruining trust with his family and then depression and anger.
His addiction began with alcohol and marijuana and progressed to methamphetamines and ecstasy. He started using because he was lonely and wanted to escape reality. He knew it was time for a change. “I was tired of being a burden to myself and realized I needed a mind change,” Brandon, 28, said.
His mother took him to ATCOV when he had nowhere to go. It was his second time. Brandon entered the program in 2019 but didn’t complete it. His return was a sort of full circle moment as Brandon was born in the building when it was Cafaro Hospital before ATCOV bought the building and moved in.
“I kind of had no idea what I was getting into,” he said. “I didn’t grow up in the church. There was no religion being practiced in my family.”
Brandon had to make changes in order to be successful in the program. “I had to believe what God says he is and what God says about me,” he said. “Clearly, my way of thinking wasn’t the way he thinks. I really wanted to call God out on his word and it’s true. That’s the only thing that led me to a right path mentally, physically and spiritually.”
God’s love, understanding and his definition of love have given Brandon a different perspective. “It was really the word of God that helped me,” he said. “Teen Challenge provided a place and everything, but it was really me pressing into the word of God.” That change took a little while, but Brandon believes that God uses every experience to help. The program was difficult and Brandon said his biggest struggle was with himself.
“There were just things I had to let go of. There were character defects I picked up along the way,” he said. He dealt with that through prayer, fellowship and the help of HOPE Counseling at ATCOV.
Brandon wants to return to work in steel manufacturing and get involved In ministry. And he’s embraced the changes in his life since he entered the program. “My life was chaos and now it’s cosmos, meaning everything is at peace with everything flowing correctly,” he said.