Patrick Brooks sat at the end of his parents’ driveway with a choice to make. Turn right and he would be headed toward his family and home. Turn left and he would be headed to his dope dealer’s home.
He struggled briefly with the decision, then turned left.
He was about to reach rock bottom.
Brooks story is like that of so many other people. No one is born to be addicted. Some are raised into it, while others find their way into the lifestyle. What Brooks wants others to know more than anything else, though, is this doesn’t have to be what consumes them. Not at all.
Brooks is a leader in Celebrate Recovery in Red Bay, a non-denominational weekly gathering of those who either are struggling with addictions or who have beaten their demons and are looking to help others do the same. The group meets at Trinity Assembly of God on Hwy. 11 North in Red Bay each Tuesday. A meal at 6:30 is followed by a time of worship and teaching. Afterward, participants break off into smaller groups where they work to help hold each other accountable and share their struggles and successes and discuss the week’s lesson.
This setting is a far cry from anything Brooks could have seen himself involved in when his family moved to this area decades ago.
When the Brooks family moved to the area in 1986, Patrick, “didn’t have any friends and I wanted to fit in. I wasn’t interested in Jesus, so I leaned the other way,” he said. “I was trying to fit in here, so I was always drinking and drugging, smoking weed and taking a few pills.”
That pathway spiraled for Brooks the way it does for so many others. But it wasn’t how he was raised.
“There’s nothing my mom and dad could have done any different,” Brooks said. “A lot of times parents want to blame themselves for what their kids do. Look, I was raised to know right from wrong, and the love of Christ. My perception of what ‘cool’ was was all jacked up.”
Brooks said life events began to take their toll and his drug abuse grew.
“There’s an imaginary line when you cross into addition,” Brooks said. “You can do dope for years and year and it not be a problem. When I got a divorce, that kind of hurt my feelings. I got introduced to meth, and meth fixed it. It ‘FIXED’ it. That’s when I crossed that imaginary line into addiction. You then get to where you don’t notice it consuming your life. But meth is a totally different beast from any other drug. It was the new love of my life; it was the new God I served.”
It was around 1997 when Brooks was introduced to methamphetamine. That was before the drug had become a major problem throughout the region. This was also around the time he met Kim Carnes, who would soon become his wife. Even with life looking up, though, he continued using meth.
Sensing he needed a change, he took a job overseas for seven months, working on domed housing, and when he came back he had it in mind to “do different, do right.” He got a job with JESCO Construction in Fulton, got married and then learned he was going to be a father. And, for a while, he was clean.
Life was good; he was living the dream. But, he said, there was a problem: Jesus was nowhere in the equation. He was basically trying to live life not doing meth.
He fought it as long as he could, but it wasn’t long until he fell back into doing meth.
“I was worse than I ever was before,” Brooks said. “It’s progressive; that’s just the way it works.”
He said when he was introduced to a recovery program he was told then if he ever went back to it, he would be ten times worse than before.
“For people like me who love the Bible today, there’s a story in there that says when an evil spirit leaves, you kick it out and clean the house up,” Brooks said. “What happens when the demon comes back and nobody’s moved in? He moves in and brings seven of his buddies with him and he’s worse than he ever was. It’s the same exact way with addiction. When you have your moments of sobriety, if you don’t move Jesus in, when it comes back it’s going to be worse than it ever was.”
He said it was fair to call addiction a demon.
“It’s the devil himself,” Brooks said. “I could not go a single day without methamphetamine. Could not get it out of my mind. There was no consequence great enough to keep me from getting high.”
The end of himself
His parents didn’t know how bad his addiction was. His wife, Kim, however, did and even though she told them, they just couldn’t bring themselves to believe it because he had a job and he had been raised better than that. He, in turn, would tell them he wasn’t doing anything, that the problems were Kim’s fault.
“When you dealt with Patrick Brooks, you always came out on the short end of the stick,” he said. “It was never my fault; it was always somebody else’s fault.”
The gig was up, though, when Brooks lost his job with JESCO. He could no longer hide it, and his parents knew there was a problem. He said the next day he had to have the “dreaded” talk with his father, Tommy, something he hadn’t done since he was 19.
“We began to discuss me, my life and what a wreck I’d made out of it,” Brooks said. “He was going to get me some help because he loves me. He was going to fix this. Daddy is a fixer.”
Tommy Brooks began to work on getting Patrick into a treatment center.
“I cried, I was so ashamed,” Patrick said. “I hated what I was. There was a dad inside of me that I wanted to be. There was a husband inside of me that I wanted to be. There was a businessman inside of me that I wanted to be. All these things I wanted to be, but I couldn’t be because of dope.
“I hugged my daddy that day and told him I loved him, I cried, I’m done, I’m not doing dope anymore. If you’d put me on a lie detector test, I would have passed,” Brooks said. “I got in the vehicle to leave, and as soon as my daddy got out of sight, here it goes. It was addiction, or the devil, whatever you want to call it. When I pulled up to the road, I was faced with the decision. I could go right and go home and be the husband and dad I wanted to be, or go left and go to the dope man’s house. And I couldn’t go home. I turned left and started going to the dope man’s house. I was hating myself the whole way there. I was thinking, ‘What are you doing? Why don’t you just go home?’ And I couldn’t do it.
“I went all the way to the dope man’s house and I sat down in front of him like I’d done a million times. And for the first time in my life, I knew what true hopelessness was,” Brooks said. “I did not want to be there. People say, ‘Oh, if you didn’t want to be there you wouldn’t.’ But they don’t get it. I was a prisoner, if you want to call it that, to methamphetamine. I couldn’t help it. I came to the reality that I was going to die doing meth. That’s a miserable place to be.”
It is my fault
Brooks did enter a treatment facility in Corinth, but not completely of his own desire. Even after three weeks there, his demons still haunted him.
“I didn’t want to be born again; I didn’t want to be a Christian,” Brooks said. “That was just the ‘uncoolest’ thing ever, and I had to be cool.”
After his third week he received a pass to go home, and his mother, Margie, came to pick him up. It was to be only a brief visit, but Brooks had other plans.
“I’d already made up in my mind I was going to smoke some meth when I got home,” Patrick said. “I deserved it. I’d been in that facility for three weeks.”
Upon picking up her son, Patrick said his mother was proud of him for being in treatment. But she could see the wear and tear he had put himself through.
“She said when she dropped me off I looked 80 years old,” Brooks said. “There’s nothing wrong with that if you’re 80, but I was 34.”
Back home, Patrick found himself in an all too familiar setting.
“When I got home that day, my truck was sitting in the same spot it was when I lost that job with JESCO and had that talk with my daddy,” Brooks said. “I backed out of the driveway, and I pulled up to that same little road, to that same intersection where I couldn’t go right and go home before.”
This time, though, something was different. This time he turned right. He said he felt “weird” after making that turn, but then he thought he would just stop and get high on the way back in that evening.
He went home and spent the day with his wife and son.
“It was pathetically sad, because my son was four at the time and I really can’t recall spending really any time with him to that day. That’s what addiction will do. It steals all that from you.”
It was then he knew he didn’t want to go back to where he’d been.
“I came back that night and drove right by the dope man’s house and got to my momma’s house and said, ‘get me back to Corinth,’” Brooks said. “I jumped out of the car and ran in the building, and I’d made it! I knew I didn’t have to get high anymore if I didn’t want to.”
That’s where Brooks found himself doing something he never thought he would do.
“I went to my room that night and I got on my knees. I never thought that I needed Jesus for anything, but I knew I needed him on this deal because I couldn’t do it on my own,” Brooks said. “I loved doing dope, I loved meth; I loved everything about it, but I hated the consequences. I asked Jesus to please help me want to stop.”
That night Brooks said he did something he couldn’t normally do: sleep.
“I never could go to sleep because my mind was always running, always thinking about methamphetamine,” he said. “That night when I got done with that prayer and laid in bed, I went sound asleep. That was a supernatural God thing. When I woke up the next morning, I knew that something was different, and I knew who had done it. I told God, ‘If you can do something with this old boy, I’ll give you what I’ve got.’ I met Jesus Christ in a treatment center in Corinth, Mississippi on May 5, 2005, and I’ve never been the same.”
He got one call a day, and that day he had one person he wanted to call: his mother. Her prayers had not been for Patrick to get off drugs; she knew that wasn’t the permanent answer. Her prayer had been for salvation for him. He couldn’t wait to tell his mother that her prayers had been answered.
Clean and loving it
This year Brooks will celebrate his 13thyear of sobriety. Helping others battle their demons has become part of Brooks’ ministry and life’s work. Upon leaving treatment he became involved and heavily dedicated to Alcoholics Anonymous.
“Recovery is important to me,” Brooks said. “Those twelve steps allowed me to clean up this mess I’d made of my life.”
Brooks said he and his father wanted something a little more broad than just AA, though, and that led them to Celebrate Recovery. He has seen through Celebrate Recovery that his story of addiction is common among addicts.
“Whether it’s alcohol, pornography . . . whatever it is, it’s all the same,” Brooks said. “They told me when I got to that treatment center that I was suffering from a spiritual malady. Man, I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. But I figured it out. Once I was blind, but now I see.”
Helping others see is his passion.
“I’m not perfect today, but I don’t do meth. John 14:6 says, ‘Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ I’m not going to jam it down your throat, but I am going to tell you the truth,” Brooks said. “Jesus makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but if He makes you uncomfortable, get ready – you’re going to be bad uncomfortable around me because I’ve got one story, and that’s Jesus.”
Celebrate Recovery helps those battling addiction or celebrating sobriety form a Biblically based accountability group, something Brooks said is vital to success.
“I was always in recovery. But mainly for me, I’d made up my mind that I wanted to serve Jesus and not do meth anymore,” Brooks said. “You have to build an accountability team. You have to allow people into your life. I’m going to be that little bit of hope. I am a success story because I am a God story.”
“A recovery group is when you sit down with people who have been exactly where you’ve been,” Brooks said. “Here, at Celebrate Recovery, I don’t tell you what you better do. I tell you how I handled the situation.”
Brooks said anyone doubting they can beat addiction is both right and wrong.
“You’re right, you can’t beat it. You can’t do it on your own,” Brooks said. “Addiction likes to isolate you. When do you do it? When no one’s around. You can’t do this on your own. But when you let people in, they start to hold you accountable. We’ve got junkies coming here, getting clean. I’ve got a buddy of mine who preaches the gospel now, at his own church. They say two percent of meth heads get off of it and get clean. It’s bad. I can give you five people right now who have.”
To get involved, all anyone has to do is show up.
Given his experience and all he has seen through Celebrate Recovery, is anyone ever beyond hope?
“Not as long as they have breath,” Brooks said. “It’s the same as with salvation. As long as you have breath. I was just as hopeless as could be. But, just like that, Jesus changed me. I’ve learned to walk in forgiveness. I get up every day and make a choice to serve him.”