MountainStar Health - June 02, 2023
by Craig Bielik

Two years into actively using drugs and alcohol, Brad Shreeves realized he had an overpowering problem.

“It wasn't about the high anymore, it was about just trying to get through,” Brad said. “It's hard to explain the grip this disease has on a person. It took away all my agency. It dictated my every move. It dictated my life. I no longer did things I normally could do.”

One day, while on a construction site for work, Brad fell down a set of stairs and smashed his head through drywall. Just days before, he had tried to quit using drugs cold turkey, but when withdrawal symptoms overtook his mind and body, he had consumed a cocktail of opioids. Crashing into the drywall led to a hospital visit, where a toxicology screening revealed the combination of chemicals in his system. His whole life felt like it was crashing down as his wife, Ashley, learned he had been hiding and lying about his substance use.

“She had no idea, and she was just beside herself … Back at home, she said to me, 'I love you, but I can't be around you right now.' The last thing I remember was her walking into the house while I backed out of the driveway,” Brad said.

After a night of dangerous driving and uncharacteristic behavior, Brad woke up in jail, wedged in a corner, freezing cold and covered in vomit and bodily fluids. This was Brad's rock bottom.

“I had to go through that. I had to sit in my own hell … but then God stepped in,” Brad said.

To Brad, an inpatient bed becoming available in Ogden Regional Medical Center's Alcohol and Chemical Treatment Center (ACT) was the miracle he needed. Upon entering the inpatient ACT program, he underwent a week of medically supervised detox and completed 30 days of inpatient treatment.

Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, Ogden Regional's ACT is one of the oldest and most respected substance use disorder treatment facilities in Utah. Known for individualized, comprehensive treatment plans for all levels of acuity, ACT's teams of specialized physicians, nurses, therapists and counselors offer guidance and support to help patients obtain and maintain recovery.

“The staff were amazing. They take their patients seriously and recognize the individuality of each patient. They helped me share things I didn't know how to share, and then learn from that and apply it to my personality,” Brad said. “Going through the program taught me to realize my insecurities and to be ok with who I am. It also taught me to forgive myself and others.”

Little did Brad know, all he learned at ACT would go on to help others, including his own son. Just two years after Brad's time within the ACT, Brad's beloved son Landon hit his own rock bottom.

Landon's substance use disorder surfaced in seventh grade. He was drinking two to three energy drinks each morning before school. At 14 years old he consistently smoked marijuana. Throughout high school and college days, he experimented with other substances, always looking to alter his state of mind; but the biggest problems occurred when alcohol consumption consumed his daily life.

“I drank all day. I told myself I was just a loser. I got kicked out of my apartment … and I ended up living in a creepy, eerie basement … The sense of what was right and what was wrong was completely gone,” Landon recalls.

Things just kept getting worse. Landon's view of himself spiraled downward. His drinking increased to a bottle of 100 proof whiskey each day. His erratic behavior escalated, and one day he had a suicidal breakdown that landed him in the Ogden Regional Medical Center Emergency Room. After receiving immediate care and psychological evaluation, Landon eagerly awaited being discharged so he could go home to another bottle of whiskey.

“As I was sitting in the hospital room, a doctor came in who I hadn't seen before. He looked me in the eyes and said, 'Why don't you just go to rehab?' and I simply said, 'Ok,'” Brad remembered. “Maybe that guy was an angel who came just for that moment. Maybe he was a real doctor. Maybe he didn't exist. I don't know. I don't know why I even said yes. I just know that the next day, Aug. 16, 2016, I went into the ACT program, and it changed my life.”

By enrolling in Ogden Regional's ACT program, Landon altered the trajectory for his future. During an eight-week Intensive Outpatient Services treatment, Landon said he not only learned about his substance use disorder, but he learned crucial information about himself.

“In treatment we did a lot of journaling. It was like doing a research project on yourself. I took to that very well because I've always been introspective. In the past, sometimes my thoughts became obsessive, and I'd tear myself down. In treatment, they helped me analyze what I've been through in a healthy way… that taught me how to be honest with myself and how to be kinder to myself.”

For his intensive outpatient treatment, Landon moved back in with his parents, surrounding himself with support.

“That saved me. I got out of the hellhole I was living in, and I had a new fresh start in every way,” Landon said.

Motivated for lasting change: Recovery is a process, not a single event. Following his initial treatment session, Landon attended weekly meetings at ACT for four years. He has also watched his father faithfully attend weekly meetings for the past 8 years. Both Brad and Landon say that sobriety is a lifelong pursuit and priority, and they believe continued connection with the compassionate professionals at ACT is an important part of their journey.

“You can tell that at ACT, the counselors really care. They challenge you, and they're engaged. They listen, and they're sympathetic. That's the biggest thing for me,” Landon said. “At ACT meetings, real relationships are formed. Those meetings teach me to be healthy, to have a sense of pride and to be happy for other people.”

Landon recently relapsed after six years of sobriety. He said telling his father the news was the most difficult thing he had ever done; but Brad welcomed him with open arms of support and love. Just two days later, Landon walked back into an ACT meeting and received another generous dose of support, love and encouragement to continue moving forward.

Brad, who has been abstinent from drugs and alcohol for 8 years, often teams up with his wife Ashley to share their stories in formal and informal settings at Ogden Regional Medical Center. They offer valuable insights to fellow journeymen seeking hope and healing through recovery.

“For the rest of my life I'll be an alcoholic and an addict, but I'm perfectly fine with that now. I find great joy coaching others and sharing my story. Because of my time with ACT, I know I can be loved even with this disease. It doesn't define who I am. I've learned to let go of my ego and accept that this disease is real. And while the disease does kill, I don't need to be a victim,” Brad said. “I'm happy to share that message.”

Landon agreed and closed with this final thought for all those battling substance use disorders: “Believe that things can and will be different. Help is available.”

If you would like more information about Ogden Regional Medical Center's ACT program, contact (801) 479-2250

“Because of my time with ACT, I know I can be loved even with this disease. It doesn't define who I am. I've learned to let go of my ego and accept that this disease is real. And while the disease does kill, I don't need to be a victim.” - Brad Shreeves