Brandon Novak—professional skateboarder, MTV celebrity, and recovery advocate—came to Awakenings Recovery Center on June 17th to give clients hope and inspiration. All current inpatient and outpatient clients attended this wonderful event.
At a young age, Novak was discovered for his skateboarding by Tony Hawk and was the first skateboarder to be endorsed by Gatorade. He joined the Powell-Peralta skateboarding team and traveled the world with them. He was on MTV shows Viva La Bam and Bam’s Unholy Union as well as the Jackass movies.
To the outside observer, Novak seemed to be thriving. However, off-camera, he was struggling with addiction—which ultimately lost him not only his spot on the Powell-Peralta team, but almost everything he had. He was in and out of treatment for 25 years, overdosed several times, and was eventually homeless.
Recovery finally stuck for Novak in 2015, and when he came to Awakenings, he had recently celebrated seven years. He is now a Recovery Speaker, a Certified Intervention Professional, and a best-selling author of the book Dreamseller: An Addiction Memoir. In 2020, he cofounded Novak’s House, a group of men’s sober living facilities.
Novak told clients that skateboarding was his first love, but drugs and alcohol became his top priority during active addiction. Anything that stood in the way of getting his next fix had to go, even if it was a meaningful part of his life.
Novak spoke of the many times he went to rehab, only to convince himself he didn’t have a problem and end up back in treatment. On his first stay, an older man said to him, “Make sure you don’t celebrate your 18th birthday in here.” Novak thought he was different than this man, but that advice stayed with him throughout the rest of his active addiction years, and he used it as a refrain during his talk at Awakenings.
Often when Novak would think of the comment during active addiction, he would use it to prove to himself he was different than that guy. But when he entered recovery in 2015, after losing so much, he finally realized what that person had been trying to tell him.
Novak explained that recovery hasn’t been just about abstaining from substances, but also about working on changing the way he thinks. His talk was poignant, funny, and inspiring.
Clients (and the majority of TruHealing employees are in recovery) could relate. Everyone was very engaged and interactive throughout the talk and when it was over. Awakenings gave away signed copies of Dreamseller: An Addiction Memoir to every client who attended, and everyone was eager to receive their copy!
As their books were being signed, some clients even felt comfortable telling Novak parts of their stories of addiction. There was a feeling of comradery, and everyone received encouragement for the journey ahead.
We are so grateful for the opportunity to bring in a true example of recovery and show our clients that no matter how terrible things can get during active addiction—and how far away recovery feels—living a fulfilling sober life is always possible. It truly does not matter where you’ve been—the only thing we can control is what is ahead. The clients were so happy and energized for their future after the speaker. Novak was able to give them some hope—something many of us have not been able to grasp for a long time—and helped them imagine a brighter future.