Street Blog, MD
Real Talk with Brandon Novak
Real Talk with Brandon Novak
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit and chat with The Man, The Myth, The Brandon Novak. Brandon is famously known as a professional skateboarder and infamously known for his appearances on MTV’s Jackass; But more recently, he has been a symbol for the recovery community as he shamelessly shares his battles in overcoming the demons of addiction. Brandon works in collaboration with many recovery centers (currently @Banyan) and does appearances to inspire others through his motivational speaking. Sharing Street Knowledge with Brandon is always a treat because the conversation breeds a Life of its own through Wisdom accumulated beyond his years…..
Dr Yi: You’ve had an incredible journey thus far. Are you most recognized as The Skateboarder, The Actor or for your presence in the recovery world?
Novak: Nowadays, I am more known as the guy in recovery or the motivational speaker. I get stopped in the airport more now than I did during my Jackass years.
Dr Yi: I actually have a client who looks up to You for Your Skating Skillz. He was quite surprised to learn you struggled with addiction and even wrote a book about it! It must be satisfying knowing that your skateboarding made such an impact.
Novak: Yeah! I mean, skateboarding was truly God’s gift to me. When I was 7 years old, my mother gave me my first skateboard and I told her that if I had died, I wanted it to come with me. When God handed me that board it was almost as if He had handed me the Holy Grail. From that moment and that night on, I knew I was going to be a professional skateboarder. I ate it, I slept it, I dreamt it. There was no need for school, plan B, a trade, or another option.
Dr Yi: So how did your Gift transcend?
Novak: The skill that I possessed then transcended into my drinking and drugging years. And despite any and all consequences that came my way, I had the Skills to know how to get what I wanted. So that started from a very young age.
Dr Yi: Would you be so kind to allow me to share with the readers how we met?
Novak: Sure, say anything that you want.
Dr Yi: About 6 years ago I get a call from the medical director at Today Incorporated, a rehab down the street where I believe You were a frequent flyer at the time, Lolz. And he’s like “Dr. Yi, we have an emergency! We have a CELEBRITY here and we need You to come by to ensure he has the best possible experience in our program.” So I’m very intrigued to meet You and the first thing I notice upon my arrival is that you’re withdrawing from multiple substances… However, what I remember most about that day was that you didn’t want any detox-comfort medications.
Novak: I don’t remember this!
Dr Yi: Oh I remember… you didn’t want any comfort meds at all. Which was kinda KraZee considering most people want everything imaginable to not feel the symptoms of withdrawal. And so from the moment we met, You had my respect – displaying Courage to refuse all comfort meds I had to offer. It was almost like you wanted to experience the pain of Detox.
Novak: I think that for me, you know, at that point when our paths had crossed that was probably my ninth treatment center and I was um, not pleased with my actions to say the least. I was very disgusted by me, by who I had become, the way I was living, and I felt almost as if there was no part of this that was supposed to be welcoming or comforting to me.
Dr Yi: I do believe that you got wiser since that day.
Novak: Well, I got sober. Lolz
Dr Yi: So what exactly happened that got Your Ass Sober?
Novak: I would go through so many treatment centers and I would save my face. I was so worried about how I was perceived, what people thought of me, how they felt about me, and in saving my face I would lose my ass on the corner for 40 bucks to get another bag. So when the pain got real enough, cause we all know pain is a great motivator, I was beaten into a state of Reason. And when I went into my 13th treatment center, I had known I was an addict, and I knew I was an alcoholic – but the difference this time was that I ACCEPTED it.
Dr Yi: How would you define the difference between knowing and accepting?
Novak: Knowing and Accepting are two completely different facets. Because when I knew it, what it allowed me to do was still continuing to go above it, around it, below it, and beside it to get what I wanted. But when I accepted it, I saw it for what it was and essentially what that allowed me to do was get out of my own way. I realized that the only thing that was blocking me from getting better was me, the common denominator in my problems was me.
Dr Yi: How are you maintaining your sobriety?
Novak: Well I started on this internal journey towards sobriety and I learned from the people that got here long before me a new way of life through the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous, specifically what I learned was that drugs and alcohol were not the problem at all, that was the Solution. Yes, when you take away the solution of drugs and alcohol THEN you’re left with the problem; the real problem which is self.
Dr Yi: So what did you discover to be the Real Problem?
Novak: What I’ve discovered was that I suffer from a disease called alcohol-ISm, not alcohol-WASm. LOL
Dr Yi: Can You give me a glimpse of Your mindset when you’re in active addiction?
Novak: When I am caught up in active addiction, anything between me and that next bag will and has to go. And it’s not personal it’s just business. I don’t want to hurt anyone that I care about or love but I don’t have the option not to. Its business for the game that I play called addiction. That’s just how my life goes when I choose my addictions. But throughout my journey, I eventually found a willingness to let go of that game.
Dr Yi: I looked up the definition of Fulfillment on google and it states, ‘The achievement of something desired’. I was more in line with Tony Robbins definition of Fulfillment being the deepest joy in life that can only be achieved through selfless, sincere, contribution to others. Question is – are You fulfilled?
Novak: Yes, it’s insane. Words cannot suffice the way that I feel. The universe is so powerful. Honestly, I’m at a point where if everything I have gets taken away from me, then I would be okay! The beautiful thing is that things are not that heavy to me anymore. Sobriety has given me everything drugs and alcohol promised me. I’m blessed with an opportunity to create Real change in others. And with that, I am fulfilled…
Dr Yi: With all thats going on in your personal & professional life how do You make the time to keep pushing recovery awareness, while balancing your life schedule?
Novak: Well it just comes down to a big case of being divinely inconvenienced or convenienced if you will. I mean, how dare I not though? I was the guy that cried wolf for many years many times before and when I made the phone call somebody always answered. God forbid they didn’t answer that phone call that day, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here. As for balancing my schedule, i write all my shit down in a planner. That’s been the difference between getting things done vs sitting my ass on the couch.
Dr Yi: What has been the greatest asset to your recovery?
Novak: What I learned is that this is a 3 fold disease. My disease is physically, mentally, and spiritually bankrupt. So once I align those I have a shot. As long as I take care of me and my intentions are sincere, I will be okay. And Honestly, as long as I stay sober and do God’s work, there is nothing I can’t achieve. I am no longer limiting myself on this journey.
Dr Yi: What’s your new high?
Novak: I started getting high at 16 and didn’t get sober until I was 35 so reality is a high to me. I spent a long time in a delusional state of mind. I can now experience life for what it is.
Dr Yi: What is Your message to the Young Guns out there who are battling the day to day demons of Addiction? And a message to their parents?
Novak: The disease of addiction is not a death sentence. Your history does not have to dictate your future. As long as you’re breathing it’s never too late. And here’s something for the parents to think about – If there’s no repercussions for my actions, why would I stop? Don’t love your child to death.
Dr Yi: What are your views on Suboxone, Bunavail and Methadone maintenance programs?
Novak: I am a MAJOR fan. If their life as a result of the medication is now one that is fulfilled, happy, joyous, and free… then Fuck Yeah. Who am I to debate that? Do I advocate substituting one chemical for another? No, but am I a fan of keeping people alive 100%. Let’s say you’re on methadone or suboxone, and your life isn’t where it should be. Well at the very least you’ll be alive long enough to one day come off of it and make that transformation like me. It’s really fucked up out there, people are dying. We can’t roll that dice out there.
Dr Yi: It sounds like you’re a fan of harm reduction strategy in general.
Novak: That’s where we’re at right now. I am fan of the safe injection sites, I endorse the philosophy of Harm Reduction. Of course there’ll be that critic of the needle exchange program who says someone who’s never used is now gonna start shooting up if theres one in my neighborhood. I can assure you that MY MOTHER is not going to pass a safe injection site and say, “Hey you know what, I’m gonna try to shoot up today”. Fuck Off man!
Dr Yi: Can you tell us about the new comic adventure you’re embarking on? I’ve already read 3 chapters and i am absolutely mesmerized by what i’m witnessing.
Brandon and Dr Yi enjoying their new favorite books – Fast Food Genocide from fellow NY Times Best Selling Author Joel Fuhrman, MD & The Brandon Novak Chronicles
Novak: The Brandon Novak Chronicles is the 1st ever addiction graphic novel with the intent on lifting the stigma and making addiction more of a conversational piece, unfortunately or fortunately depending upon one’s perception of what’s happening out there. The book is a collection of 5 SHORT stories cuz today’s society the younger generation isn’t reading so much books as they are surfing instagram, their attention span is getting shorter and shorter, so what we’ve decided to do is create 5 powerful short stories with PICTURES in a comic book form. Its short enough that it will grasp your attention and will bring the story to life because of the visuals you get with the captions. It’s a cautionary tale of my position, perception and places that I ended up in due to my drinking and drugging.
Dr Yi: My brotha, I know you’ve got A LOT more than 5 stories. How did you come around picking these 5… Are they the craziest?
Novak: No there are definitely crazier stories. And that’s why there will be a series of these… Stay tuned.
Dr Yi: Now that you’re sober, is the Sex any better??
Novak: Oh it’s insanely better! Because when I was using, the libido was numbed out. But cool thing now is I actually enjoy it, its like my senses have been heightened in all areas, and now I’m alert, I’m attentive, and I could cum! I actually take care of myself now and life is so much better when You invest in Yourself.
Dr Yi: Final Question… how do you keep yourself from being distracted by others who may offer various forms of temptations out there? A priest once taught me that The closer You are to Fulfilling God’s work, The greater You are a Target of being Spiritually attacked (by a dark entity).
Novak: I believe that God has assigned me to this role right now to do what I do and at some point my role might change, and I may deviate from the role and maybe it’ll be replaced by something else, but until then I’m on a spiritual journey and gotta stay focused on the mission, and if I sense anyone trying to fuck with my path, then I don’t fuck with them.
For more information on Brandon Novak and his mission, check out brandonnovak.com