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The Battalion

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The Battalion

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Symposium discusses ways to combat national opioid epidemic

Brandon+Novak%2C+pro+skateboarder%2C+MTV+star%2C+and+best-selling+author+detailed+his+life+of+addiction+and+his+road+to+recovery.+He+is+now+three+years+sober.%26%23160%3B
Photo by Photo By Cristian Aguirre

Brandon Novak, pro skateboarder, MTV star, and best-selling author detailed his life of addiction and his road to recovery. He is now three years sober. 

Professional skateboarder Brandon Novak told the story of his personal battle with opioid addiction at a symposium hosted in Rudder Tower on Monday.
Hosted by Symetria Recovery and Students for Opioid Solutions, The Symposium on Opioid Addiction included presentations on the statistics of the current national opioid epidemic given by Symantria Recovery chief executive Chris Hassan and Dr. Joy Alonzo with Operation Naloxone. Novak, famous for his appearances on MTV in the 2000s, shared the story of his path through addiction and recovery, which is now the subject of his book “Dreamseller.”
The event closed with a panel for all presenters and student organizations to answer questions addressing the importance of empathy as a way to help recovering addicts, the lack of information distributed on the opioid crisis and new forms of therapy and treatment available to recovering addicts in Texas.
Dr. Alonso spoke on the benefits of Naloxone kit, which are treatments used to deal with people who have stopped breathing due to a drug overdose. She recounted an incident that happened in her family that made her realize the household necessity of the drug.
“At Thanksgiving I gave my brother a kit and I thought he’d be an advocate,” Alonso said. “[He] actually had to administer Naloxone to his father-in-law because his father-in-law experienced an opioid overdose [because] he’s maintained on morphine for pain control the home nurse gave him a shot of morphine and they changed shifts and they asked him ‘did you get a shot of morphine’ and he said ‘no’ so they gave him another shot.”
Dr. Alonso talked about the pivotal role that Naloxone plays in reviving people who died from a drug overdose. Hassan said the importance of therapy as a group effort rather than the weight of one person or professional
“[Therapy] is an exhausting commitment,” Hassan said. “We want to recognize that, we want to have programs that support them as well, that when the tank starts to getting close to going empty that there’s ways to recharge it. One of the ways to do that is by having multi-cross-purpose teams working together, it validates them and helps lift them up”
Novak told his story of addiction and how he once had a very bright future that he didn’t believe could be tarnished by addiction.
“I myself got my first skateboard at the age of 7,” Novak said. “7 years old I knew I was going to be a professional skateboarder. I ate it, I breathed it, I slept it, I dreamt it. At 15 I became it.”
Novak said that in those younger years, his family background and the way he was raised helped him stay away from drugs and alcohol for a time.
“My father died as a direct result of [addiction]… I lived with a cautionary tale, an after school special if you will,” Novak said. “I excel in everything that I did in life because I was never gonna become him and I was never gonna do drugs and alcohol because I saw what it made him do to my mother, to my brother, to my sister, and to me… I was never going to become that man.”
Novak started drinking and using drugs at the age of 16 as a professional skateboarder. However, he said his confidence made him feel immune to becoming addicted.
“I wasn’t the kid who walked into class twenty minutes late, scared that everyone was staring at me, I was the kid who walked into class 20 minutes late, thinking everyone was waiting for me,” Novak said.
Novak went on to tell about his continuous battle with substance abuse and his 13 separate visits to rehab centers before finally becoming sober at the age of 35.
“I think maturity played a big part in it,” Novak said. “I woke up and I was thirty-five years old and homeless, and I was alone, my mother, she’s 76 there’s gonna come a point in time real soon when I’m really alone in this world not [just] feeling like I’m alone and I’m not okay with that.”
Those looking for help recovering from addiction are encouraged to reach out to resources:
Brandon Novak:
Personal – 610-635-9092
Office – 954-533-7705
Amy Mcnamara, Symetria Recovery:
Personal – 979-220-1689
Office – 979-599-9580
Editor’s note: Personal phone numbers supplied at the request of the sources listed.

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