, Muskogee, OK

May 1, 2013

Former addict credits God with new goal in life

— By Miranda Anderson

Times Correspondent

For Brandon Smalley, being asked to be a co-coordinator at the faith-based rehab he attends was a big step in his recovery.

Smalley said he mentored new people coming into the rehab, teaches seventh- through ninth-grade classes at church, and does other community work.

“I give 100 percent to people, whether they’re the kids at church or the people at rehab,” he said. “I live my life today by phrases and scriptures. The biggest thing for me is just to make the next right decision.”

Smalley is in his second round of rehab at Mark Seabolt’s Faith Based Therapeutic Community Corporation in Fort Gibson. Smalley credits the rehab and the people there, but especially God, with helping him lose his addiction, he said.

“I was telling my dad, I don’t have the craving anymore, but I’m a Xanax or an Oxycodone away from death,” Smalley said. “If I do use again, it would erase what I’ve done here, and it would kill me, because that first pill would lead to a next and then a next.”

Smalley said he has been blessed.

“I am blessed. It’s about being humble; at any given second if I don’t make the next right decision I could lose all the blessings I’ve been given, and they are countless blessings upon blessings,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I make the right decisions every moment, but I consciously pray about decisions — if it’s going to affect my sobriety, my relationship with God, my relationships with others, then I pray about it.”

Smalley said he always felt an emptiness after his mother died, and he tried to fill that emptiness with violence, drugs, sex, football and video games.

“And all I was doing was running away from what my true calling was,” he said. “I’m pretty sure of what my true calling is, and every small goal I achieve, it’s a celebration to me.”

Smalley said his goal is to become a community minister.

“I do have a ministry going already, and I want to continue it,” he said.

Smalley said the last 320 days is the longest he’s been sober since he was 12 years old.

“I’ve had some good times financially. Now I don’t have the material things that I used to have,” he said. “But now I have a home. I’m engaged to a beautiful, caring, supportive woman who has known me for a long time.”

The contrast in Smalley’s past life and his life today is shown in his interaction with people.

“When people from my past see me today, it’s frightening some of the looks I get from them,” he said. “They see this joy, and they think, ‘How in the heck can you be happy? Don’t you remember who you used to be?’”

Smalley said people didn’t know what to think when he started finding God.

“And they sure didn’t know what to think when a year later I would still be finding God and would still be clean and sober. People didn’t give me much of a chance, but after a lot of work and prayer, they see my spirit,” he said. “I know the answer is that I don’t know the answer to anything. Seek God first.”