Brett’s Personal Story

Brett Thornton the founder of How to Treat Addiction tells his personal story of his struggle with addiction in order to inspire others to achieve the same



Brett Thornton Addictions Counsellor

Brett James Thornton
Founder – How to Treat Addiction
 Addictions & Family Counsellor, Interventionist, Aftercare Manager
Clean and Sober since 17th June 2011

My name is Brett I am 38 years young, a recovering addict and the founder of How to Treat Addiction

This website is not about me, it is about you, but I think it only fair that before you contact me for help that you to know a little more about my personal experience in active addictive and my recovery journey. You may read more about other client success stories on this page.

I can’t honestly say for certain if I was born an addict, but one thing is for certain when I picked up my first drink at age 12 an addict was born.

My story may be different to some or even many of you but for me the story is not as important as the feelings, experience and consequences.

One of the first questions clients or client’s families ask me, or should ask me, is if I am in in recovery myself?

The answer to this is yes and this is not to undermine those who have academic experience only.  I can only say that from my own experience no-one knows an addict like another addict.

From someone who’s been there, I can say I fully understand. My denial of my problem was so great that not once did I blame the drugs or the alcohol.




For me an addict is someone who suffers with the disease of addiction and that is me. I am unable to control, moderate or constantly abstain from any substance for a significant period of time. The longest period of abstinence prior to getting clean was when I decided I just needed a month off in April /May 2011. The 28th day fell on a weekend so having achieved 28 days, I justified to myself and others I had successfully achieved my goal.

There are many definitions for what is addiction. My three favourite are.

  1. The disease of more
  2. The inability to control
  3. The inability to consistently abstain.


I regard myself as a recovering addict, some people I meet identify themselves as recovered but I believe I’m still very much a work in progress.

It’s really difficult to condense my story to a single page but the purpose of me sharing with you is to not to gloat, brag or boot my ego but to hopefully give a little bit of hope that recovery from living in active addiction is possible. I’m no better than anyone else and I don’t profess to have all the answers but I do practice and live in the solution.




The biggest factors that kept me and many others in active addiction include:


Fear:  Fear of being judged? Disappointing people? Not only worrying but believing that things would be worse if I stopped using.

Denial: I can control this? I’m not that bad. I still have a job. I’m a functioning alcoholic/addict. Only people who inject heroin are addicts. I’m not an alcoholic because I don’t drink every day.

Comparing to others: Well I’m not as bad as this person. Or that won’t work for me I used a lot more than they did.




The turning point in my life – not just sick and tired of being sick and tired but totally miserable, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually bankrupt.

On the 16th June 2011 I had been out with friends since about 8pm and after the last couple of people had gone home around 7am a time that many people would consider a normal time to be getting up after a good nights sleep never mind still being awake from the night before. I decided to continue having a party for one. Since getting clean I soon learned that the party was over a long time ago and my deluded interpretation of a party for one is actually using in isolation.


I was using cocaine and alcohol and was unable to stop. This carried on from 7am when my friends went home until around 5pm that evening. During this time I talked to no one. No music for fear of the neighbours knowing I was at home. The curtains were drawn so no one could see through my window. (I lived on the 7th floor)


Something hit me


I realised what is known in recovery as hitting my rock bottom. Again, there are several definitions and interpretations of this, but my personal understanding is reaching the lowest point in my life that I wish to go. A point so low that I could almost see no way out unless I asked for help.

I sought help from those that had been there and whom I am eternally grateful for supporting me on my journey.

I often ask this question particularly in group therapy sessions “Is recovery for those who want it or need it?”

Most people say one or the other with some people saying both. I truly believe that recovery is not just for people who need and want it but those who take action and continue to take action every day and not drink or use drugs no matter what life throws at them.

So that is my story. I hope it has given you hope that it is possible to be free from the imprisonment of active addiction.

I look forward to working with you by guiding you and supporting you in your recovery journey.

My story may differ from yours, however I hope you can relate to some aspects. Even if you honestly believe your problem is not that bad or you are too far gone, I can promise you one thing: it won’t get better without help.

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

The second step is realising you can’t do this on your own and ask for help

The third step is to take action and continue to do so one day at a time

Some current and former clients of mine have been kind enough to share their story in the hope to carry the message that it is possible to be free from addiction and live a happier more purposeful life.

Since getting clean and sober my life has changed dramatically.

I am able to travel around the world and share my experience, strength and hope with people in active addiction.

It is wonderful to see other people recovering from this disease which helps me realise that recovery is possible.

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