10 Apr From Heroin Addiction to Jewelry Designer
On January 2, 2010, Michael’s mom witnessed firsthand what she feared was going on with her son. For months, she was concerned about Michael’s welfare, but Michael wouldn’t open up to her. Concerned, she drove by his apartment and noticed his garage door was left open. Upon entering, she found empty beer bottles lying around the garage, vomit was in the toilet, cigarette burns peppered the carpets and she found syringes in almost every drawer. She was terrified, her son was a heroin addict and he was clearly suffering.
Michael had been using drugs for the past 8 years. He had been using heroin heavily over that last year. Michael had worked at the family business, Brownlee Jewelers in Charlotte, North Carolina. He began showing up to work with bags under his eyes, his appearance was unkempt, had little energy and was easily irritable. He began withdrawing himself from spending time with his family where ever he could. Shortly after, he isolated himself from everyone. Michael was clearly on a downward spiral and now his mom knew why.
That evening, Michael’s parents and two sisters had an intervention on him. This was a new experience for his family, they weren’t sure what to expect. Michael was the first family member with an addiction. But upon confronting Michael and expressing their concerns, Michael broke down and accepted help. “I finally felt a moment of relief when my family knew exactly what was going on in my life. All the lies and secrets I had kept about hiding my addiction was now out on the table and they told me they were going to find me the help I needed so I could take my life back. At that moment I was finally able to breath. I was still filled with fear because I didn’t know if that was possible. I felt like I was too far gone and I knew eventually this disease (which at the time I didn’t believe that it was a disease – just an addiction) was going to kill me because on my own I couldn’t stop.” Michael shared.
Within a week, Michael was on his way to Los Angeles, CA to start a new beginning. He entered a long-term recovery community where he began addressing his alcoholism and drug addiction. Michael is the first to share that his experience getting sober in Los Angeles wasn’t easy, but was life saving and life changing.
In 2012, Michael enrolled in the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to further his knowledge in gemology. In 2014, he graduated GIA with a gemologist degree, a degree in custom jewelry design and received his CAD/CAM for jewelry. Upon completion, and now with 4 years of sobriety, Michael has returned to North Carolina to work for Brownlee Jewelers.
He is currently working on his own jewelry line, Bridal Bells by Michael R. Michael hopes to revolutionize the jewelry industry by creating custom jewelry for each of his customers.
“I’m living a dream.” He said. “Sometimes, I loose sight of what I’m grateful for because I am so far away from the person I once was. Because of the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous I have been able to accomplish any goal and walk through any fear that I have set my mind on. Not only in my business and my personal goals, but I have learned so many amazing tools and ways of living that I practice in my everyday life. Sobriety has given me a rich life. I have amazing relationships with my family, friends, co-workers, and my customers. This has been the most amazing journey of my life and the best part about it all is that it has only just begun.”
Michael is still active in his recovery; he regularly attends 12 Step meetings, works with his sponsor and stays in close contact with his recovery community in Los Angeles. He has a great relationship with his family that he’s excited to welcome into his home at anytime.