Timmy Brooks had many things going for him as a kid. Before 2014, he was a young, square-jawed lacrosse talent from a leafy Philadelphia suburb. Timmy seemed to be the perfect student with a bright future, but secretly he was plagued by anxiety and episodes of depression. Instead of seeking help, he did what many others have tried before him. He started to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol.
At first, the slide was imperceptible. Most of his fellow students regarded his substance use as nothing unusual, but Timmy was “drinking and drugging to not be a mess.” Except, he wouldn’t admit that at the time. When people told him to take it down a notch, he would tell them to take a hike.
“I was heading down a path where there was no good resolution,” Brooks told insidelacrosse.com. “There’s a saying in the world of recovery that if you do what you did long enough, you end up in one of three places: jail, (mental) institutions, or death. I was definitely heading 100 percent in those directions.”
In 2015, the then 19-year-old went to prison, sentenced to nine to 23 months in county jail, with five years’ probation after pleading guilty to five felony charges for selling marijuana. He had been dealing drugs to sustain his own substance misuse. “I’m an alcoholic and a drug addict, but I’m also a felon, and the fact that I’m a felon comes first,” Brooks told radio host Michael Smerconish in July.
Brooks started his recovery even before going to jail and has been working hard at it ever since. He has been sober since March 2014 and is still on probation. After serving seven months of his jail sentence, Timmy applied at Cabrini just outside Philadelphia and the private Roman Catholic university gave him a second chance.
After talking about his recovery in front of the entire lacrosse team at Cabrini, Brooks was back in the game. In May, Timmy graduated summa cum laude with a degree in business management.
At the end of the Facebook Live, Smerconish asked Brooks to give him and the audience a 60-second version of the “Timmy Brooks message.” Timmy replied, that he made a lot of small choices that had a really big impact. The slippery slope of addiction featured small moments like the first time he smoked weed, and the first time he took Adderall. It is important to recognize these moments for what they are and seek help. “I was able to justify things in a way so that I thought it didn’t matter, but it really did matter,” remembers Brooks. “Through those mistakes I learned a lot of lessons. I learned the value of being honest and allowing the people who wanted to help me to do so.”
On the other side—in recovery—those little choices matter just as much as the seemingly insignificant bad choices leading to active addiction. “At the end of the day it’s about being happy,” says Timmy who learned in recovery how to cope with anxiety and depression without misusing drugs and alcohol.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use and could benefit from addiction treatment services, please contact The Farley Center at 800.582.6066 or fill out our admissions request form.