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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

04-11-18 | By

Brandon Novak – “People Were Taking Life Insurance Policies Out On Me”


Brandon Novak has lived the life that some only read about. As a pro-skateboarder by the age of 16, Novak traveled the country with Tony Hawk, was sponsored by Gatorade and worked out alongside Michael Jordan. He was in the group of members that surrounded Bam Margera known as CKY. (Camp Kill Yourself). In his later years, he starred in the movie, Jackass, and additionally wrote a memoir, Dreamseller that became a New York Times best seller.

However, despite all of his success, Brandon Novak, has landed himself in 13 treatment facilities from the age of 17 to the age of 35. “The disease of addiction does not discriminate,” he said. “The outhouse or the White House, the results are all the same and one out of five people will be affected. So yes, it’s prevalent in the skateboarding world, it’s prevalent in the academic world, it’s prevalent in the world of people living under the bridge at Kensington and 10th, it’s prevalent everywhere.”

In talking about his early years, Novak explains, “Skateboarding did for me then what drugs and alcohol did for me later. You could put me in a room with the prettiest women, people that I wasn’t in their bracket or caliber and as long as I had a skateboard in my hand I was comfortable.”

With three years of continuous sobriety, Novak was finally beaten down into a state of reasonableness. Today, Novak credits spirituality to the key to his sobriety. He explains, “doing the work I’ve done on myself, my whole deal is spirituality. I believe God is everything. If i didn’t go what I went through, then I wouldn’t have been who I am today which is a child of God.”

“My Mother Bought Me A Plot, People Were Taking Life Insurance Policies Out On Me.”

Before Novak entered his 13th treatment center, he found himself back in his Mom’s house. “I just got off life support for seven days. People were taking life insurance policies out on me. My Mother had just bought me a plot. Despite all of the success I had, my worldly possessions consisted of eight scarves, two jackets, three socks, one stick of deodorant and it fit into a bag that doubled as my pillow. Everyday I left the house to buy $180 worth of heroin and cocaine.”

With no stone left un-turned, Brandon Novak describes himself as an open book. Stating that the pain of not being honest, secretive, and ultimately shooting dope again, far exceeded the fear of what people would think of him.

“I’m not part of those people that can drink with immunity. I’m was doing Jackass and then would do these appearances at night clubs and they asked me what I wanted. I had such a delusional mind, I told them I needed some heroin, xanax, cocaine, and wine. They’d give me the substances and I’d take pictures, sign autographs, and get a check at the end of the night. It was literally my job to get high.” However, knowing what he knows now, he says, “I was trying to fill this internal void with an external solution.”

Beaten Into A State Of Reasonableness

In talking about the relationships with his family today, things have never been better. He notes, “I’m taking my Mom to Poland in December and I took her to see Rod Stewart last year. For years, my Mother has done everything in this world to try and help me. She sold houses to get me into treatment. But, now that I finally have this thing for today, it’s like, how dare I tell her thanks and then say, see ya when I see ya.”

However, things didn’t always look positive with Brandon Novak and his Mother, when a couple of years ago his Mom went to see a Priest with a prayer that would forever haunt the back of Brandon’s mind. “My Mother went to a church and talked to Father Mike. Father Mike asked how I was doing, and my Mother said that I’ve never been worse, so she went to God with a prayer. She said, it’s simple: Cure him, kill him, or kill me.” On that day, Father Mike told her, “God has a plan for Brandon, and you don’t know what it is, and neither do I.”

Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Novak explains that he tried everything to get sober, “I was horrible at suicide because I kept waking up. The only thing I never did to get another bag was homicide. I was willing to do what I had to do in the beginning, and then I’d get a shower, a few meals under me, and send a letter home. I’d equate that to ten more dollars and then it was wash, rinse, repeat.” However, once the clean time under his belt showed itself to the other’s around him and the accolades started to pour in, Novak admitted that he would take authority for his clean time.

“I have selective memory when It plays in favor of my alcoholism. I would tell myself I was the almighty and my delusional alcoholic brain would minimize the road that my disease takes me down.” He divulges, “I suffer from a fatal disease that tell’s me I don’t have a disease on a daily basis. Left to my own devices, I will get up from this interview and go to the pub and have a glass of wine because I’m convinced that I don’t have a disease.”

“If Justice Was Due, I’d Be Dead Years Ago.”

Today, Brandon credits, his newfound sobriety to his higher power and the other’s around him. “I didn’t work hard for my seat. My mother did, my employers, my friends, and God. If justice was due I’d be dead years ago. My favorite thing is seeing those relationships mended. Today, it’s simple, I show up. I’m not powerful enough to rid this obsession that I had for years. This was the last house on the block and I just had to get out of my own way,” he says.

There’s no doubt that Novak got out of his own way because today, he is employable, has a schedule, and has over three years of continuous sobriety, and just bought his own home. Describing what he does on a daily basis, he adds, “I suffer from a disease that is called alcoholism not ‘alcohol-wasm.’ I wake up, I make my bed immediately. I get on my knees and I pray, and I meditate for 10 minutes and I have a cup of tea and I process things.

Releasing a new book, and working with Banyan treatment center, Brandon Novak lives a low key life in Philadelphia. “I help whoever, however, whenever,” he notes. “People call me and they say, ‘Novak, if you can get clean there is no reason why I can’t. Can you help me?’ If I can use who I was prior to sobriety to get through to the people that can’t see past that bag bottle or pill because they’ve built a wall up that I’ve done and can allow them to become open and receptive to me, then my defects have became my assets.”

Check out the live interview with Brandon Novak here.

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