Jewelry Designer

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.

Bridal BellsMichael 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.

Michael RIn 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.

3 Comments
  • Larry Nuffer
    Posted at 13:52h, 17 April Reply

    Inspiring to say the least. My son was in the depths of addition a year ago and is still learning to “walk through his fears.” But we are hopeful that one day at a time he’ll keep his sober life on track. We love the hell out of the guy.

    • Avi Satz
      Posted at 10:19h, 21 April Reply

      Thanks Larry, so happy to hear that your son is working forward in his recovery. Keep up the hope, you’re right, it’s a day-at-a-time process. You’re son is an inspiration if he’s currently in recovery!

  • Devon R.
    Posted at 14:43h, 18 April Reply

    Wow, a truly inspirational story. I always enjoy hearing stories of people who went so low then pushed back to the top! Hopefully more and more people who struggle with addiction can get back their lives and accomplish what Michael has done, awesome to see!!

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