Meet Us Monday: Brandon, Peer House Leader
Meet Brandon, 34, one of our Peer House Leaders. Brandon grew up in a rougher neighborhood in the Hampton area; his mother, along with many other adults in his life, were alcoholics. Unfortunately, due to her drinking, his mother wouldn’t be able to provide the emotional support he needed to cope with their environment and the loss of loved ones.
At 11, Brandon entered the foster care system for 3 years before his mother regained custody. A year later he started smoking marijuana. Gang violence was prevalent, and although he never joined a gang, he was not spared of the negative effects of environment. Around this same time his girlfriend became pregnant. To cope, he worked too much, didn’t care for himself, and spent time with the wrong people. He used and sold drugs, and before his 21st birthday was arrested. He served a two-year sentence, and after his release, his girlfriend had their second child. Soon after, she left him; they had been together for 12 years.
In 2013 he was incarcerated again. While incarcerated his son’s mother relapsed. When he was released, he relapsed and used heroin. Brandon was slipping into his old ways; his girlfriend was using drugs too. He ended up missing court and spent 6 months in jail. When released he started to get his life together, working two jobs to pay child support, and he didn’t abuse alcohol or drugs for years.
But between 2018 and 2019 he started drinking heavily again. In July of 2019, he was devastated when he received a call saying his brother had passed from an overdose. He started smoking and injecting cocaine, experienced homelessness and was sleeping in cars and abandoned houses.
In 2020, Brandon was charged with his first felony drug possession. He was released on supervised probation but went on the run with his girlfriend. Both were arrested in March of 2021, but Brandon received a bond and was released from jail. He continued to use until arrested in October 2021 with possession of heroin, crack and fentanyl.
While in jail, his lawyer suggested the REAL LIFE Program. Brandon filled out the paperwork and on November 27th, 2021 he started the program. REAL LIFE gave Brandon the support and accountability he needed to save him from himself. Through the program he found tools to deal with his addictions and found tools to deal with hardship. This gave him the mental capacity to handle the death of his girlfriend.
Brandon was able to strengthen his relationships with friends and family. His children are happy to have a relationship with their father and that he is back to being himself, not overshadowed by addiction. REAL LIFE also gave him the ability to cope with the fact that his mother drinks.
He is proud of being a Peer House Leader, enjoys talking to people and helping them navigate their own recoveries. He has a driver’s license and loves his job as Assistant Kitchen Manager at a well-known Richmond restaurant. Brandon also designs tee-shirts with a Crown surrounded by a Halo & the wording “Highly Favored”. His future goals include starting his own foundation for drug awareness, so he can continue to give back to the community and spread positivity.
He is truly grateful to the REAL LIFE Program for its positive impact on his life, it saved him. “If you want to change your life, this is the program for you.” None of these positive changes would have been possible if Brandon had not become a member of the REAL LIFE family.