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health as it happens

Addiction specialist uses his story to help others find recovery - KATV

by Alyson Courtney

Tuesday, August 10th 2021

Kyle Brewer/Addiction Specialist

Kyle Brewer/Addiction Specialist

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KATV) — It's well documented that recovery after opioid addiction is achievable, but not easy. According to American Addiction Centers, 91 percent of those in recovery will experience a relapse.

Kyle Brewer has a degree in addiction studies, runs the Arkansas peer specialist program for NAADAC-The Association for Addiction Professionals, and spends time working in the ER at UAMS assisting patients who are struggling with substance abuse or addiction. He's helped hundreds of people reach and maintain recovery.

“What I do is come along someone and I want to empower that person to start making their choices again and just walk that journey and kind of guide them through that process,’ said Brewer.

Brewer was raised in Saline County and learned about addiction at an early age.

"I grew up and watched addiction wreak havoc on my family and saw the consequences up close and personal and so I went to school trying to determine what my majors gonna be, what am I gonna do in my life," Brewer said. "I thought I would study to become an addictions counselor and I thought that that would be the way that I would help my family."

But it turned out Brewer couldn’t escape the addiction that ran in his family and while he was studying how to become a professional addiction counselor, he was also becoming more and more dependent on opioids he'd been prescribed after having his wisdom teeth removed.

"I was able to call for two to three months after that and say that I had dry sockets or my teeth were still hurting and they would call me in a refill and so, I had access to these pills for an extended period of time and I just fell in love with them."

Brewer was able to hide his addiction for years. He even convinced himself he didn't have a problem.

"From 2013 to 2017, you know, I went from snorting pills to shooting pills up to moving to heroine because it was cheap," he said.

He said that he was on the President's and Dean's list at school, and he was part of a fraternity so on the outside it looked like he was doing really well.

“I saw the consequences for my family in person, I’m studying the scientific data and evidence behind the disease of addiction, but I’ve convinced myself that neither the consequences or the science applies to me and that I’m going to be able to do what I’m doing and not experience any of that."

After graduating from college the addiction got worse. Kyle spent time in jail, and eventually ended up homeless and in a psychotic state.

"My lowest point was full of fear, full of hopelessness and just really had no direction on what to do," Brewer said.

A family member eventually got him to the Nehemiah House, a local drug and alcohol recovery program,

"But after about six weeks I made two decisions. I gave my life to God, surrendered my life to God and surrendered to the idea that God was going to use this nine-month, faith-based program to try and change my life."

When asked who he is today, Brewer said that he is a productive member of society.

"I'm not defined by my past. Actually, my past is what enables me to turn that around and help other people that are going through the exact same things."

If you are someone you know is battling addiction and looking for resources to help you can visit online Arkansas Takeback or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.