Profiles in Recovery
Drew Breznitsky’s was introduced to alcohol at the age of seven as he watched his mother cope with her illness by developing close relationships with Ron Bacardi, Captain Morgan, and Jose Cuervo. “I remember just slamming her Bacardi as early as 13 years old and filling it back up with water,” Drew describes. Throughout this time, multiple resentments began to develop in addition to looming depression and anxiety.
Working in the restaurant business did not help with this maladaptive coping as he began to find himself hanging out in bars with older co-workers after shift. This career choice continued to worsen the drinking, which gave nourishment for his addictive pathology to grow strong and eventually consume him. Drew spent the next 10 years in a cycle of bartending, drinking, cutting (self-harm), ruining relationships, and in and out of county jails, and eventually prison.
Drew made the decision to admit himself to a Department of Corrections residential treatment facility. During his time at treatment, Drew enrolled in the local state college where he obtained his Associates Degree in Psychology. Subsequent to discharging from treatment, he went on to attend Saint Leo University where he obtained a BA in Psychology and a BA in Human Services. Drew then enrolled in graduate school with Webster University where he obtained an MA in Clinical Mental health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy.
Today, Drew is a Master’s Level therapist working toward licensure. He has helped to develop a successful dual diagnosis treatment center as Program Director, provided hundreds of interventions and consultations, worked in outreach, and advocates for the sick, the suffering, and the disenfranchised. He is a speaker, a writer, and an advocate. First and foremost, he values his beautiful family that has been by his side for the last five years of his journey and believes in teaching his children empathy and compassion while educating them on mental health and addiction.
Therapist and Regional Clinical Outreach Manager
What worked for me:
What worked for me was taking a “time out.” I needed to take a timeout and listen to professionals. I had to relinquish my need for control and put my trust in strangers who wanted to help me. This can be extremely hard but doing so helped me to reflect on my life, my core beliefs, my actions, and my goals, which were not in line. It was only then, that I could externalize the real “problem” and begin to deconstruct my narrative to then reconstruct a new and emotionally healthy narrative.
Best advice for newbies:
Honestly, @#$%* one day at a time, take it one minute at a time. Believe in yourself, love yourself, and take solace in the fact that IT WILL get better. Always communicate, share your emotions, and know that it is ok to feel sad, hurt, and alone. Know that it is OK to ask for help.
Advice to my younger self:
If I could go back and provide some advice to my younger self, I would simply say, “It gets better.” I would be there for myself, I would provide self-care and self-love, and I would say that it is ok to ask for help.
Rules I live by:
The main rules I live by are to always put self-care first, surround myself with emotionally healthy and positive people, and communicate my feelings in an appropriate way to people I trust. I refuse to bottle things up and let them permeate and build. I take pride in my work, my family, and my relationships and community.
What I value most in recovery:
Having my integrity back and loving myself.
I can say that I have two primary “proudest moments,” one personal and one professional. The first is watching my girlfriend and children sleep, knowing that for some reason, they continue to stay by my side. My other is helping to build and develop an amazing and successful treatment center.
Stigma I faced:
This is not a past tense question or answer. I face the stigmas of incarceration/interaction with the legal system, addiction, mental health, and family legacy every single day. Today, however, I embrace my past and find comfort and solace in knowing that without my past, I would not be the man I am today.
Rock bottom moment:
I’ve had many rock-bottom moments before I really got it. If I had to narrow it down to a few, I would say prison and every time I woke up in county jail, losing relationships, and laying in a bathtub in a pool of blood from cutting myself, with a bottle of Jack Daniels in my hand.
On my bucket list:
Man, there are so many things on this list. I want to surf Jeffery’s Bay, dive the great barrier reef, jump on stage and perform a song with one of my favorite bands, travel the world with my family, write a book, and continue to inspire others.
Favorite recovery quote:
“The world I believe in is one where embracing your light doesn’t mean ignoring your dark.”
At my worst, I was:
At my worst, I was a self-centered, egomaniacal, depressed, angry, miserable, inconsiderate person who didn’t care about anyone or anything except drowning my emotions. I took advantage of people, I hurt people, I manipulated people, and I pushed the people that loved me far away.
I get inspired by:
Primarily, I get inspired by seeing my clients succeed; moreover, I get inspired by seeing my clients fall and get back up again. In addition, I get inspired by life….. a song, a poem, a book, a sunset, a sunrise, the ocean, wildlife, my mentors that have helped me grow along the way and have aided in my professional and personal development, and my family. Surfing is a huge part of my inspiration; being one with the ocean and nature is a spiritual journey like no other. Lastly, I get inspired by knowing that there is something bigger than me, my God.
What saves me from myself:
There are three things that save me from myself: my God, my family, and my relationships/community. My relationship with my God helps me to stay spiritually grounded and helps to maintain focus on my core beliefs and thereby provides accountability to maintain integrity. My family also provides accountability, but also provides love and support. And my relationships help me to stay grounded, aware, included, and supportive. By engaging in my community, I am afforded the opportunity to “give back” just a fraction of what has been given to me.
Begin to ask yourself, when you lay your head down at night, in the dark, and you are all alone, what are some of those dreams/goals that flutter through your mind, that may seem impossible. If only for a moment, view them as possible…..AND probable.
SHed the Stigma:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].