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Recovery On Track For Campbell

Published: October 2, 2018 2:43 pm ET

Last Comment: October 8, 2018 11:49 pm ET | 9 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

His world careening wildly out of control, harness driver Brandon Campbell wanted to end it all as he drove back home to Alberta this past March after another failed drug test at Fraser Downs in British Columbia. Every time he drove under an underpass he thought of cranking the steering wheel hard and veering his car into one of the concrete walls and killing himself.

“I was mad at myself. Mad at everyone. Mad at the world,” said Campbell. “I was an alcoholic and a drug addict and I was past the point of caring. I was severely depressed. After 20 years of abusing myself pretty badly — I was a runaway. I was about to lose my horses, my business, my family… everything. I figured I had nothing left so what was the point of going on. I thought my life was over — torn down brick by brick. I didn’t think I could make it. I had reached rock bottom.”

But then, suddenly and almost out of nowhere on that cold March 18 afternoon, Campbell, alone in the mountains, had an epiphany he calls a 'spiritual awakening.’ “Somebody switched the light on. My head came off the dash board and I saw myself in the third person. I could see myself ending up on the street shooting crystal meth into my veins.”

More than anything Campbell, 35, kept thinking about his four-year-old daughter, Presley. “I couldn’t do that to her. I couldn’t leave her without a father.” Instead of slamming his car into one of the underpasses, Campbell pulled over to the side of the road and got out his phone.

Hands shaking, he phoned Jodi Loftus, his partner and Presley’s mother whom he had split up with, he phoned his mother, he phoned his dad, he phoned some of his friends – finally acknowledging to everyone that he needed help.

“Until that moment I had always faked it. I lied to everyone. I lied to myself. I kept telling everyone that I would get it worked out. That’s what every alcoholic and drug addict does. They lie. I lied like crazy. It was to the point where I don’t know what the truth was. The toughest problem for an addict or an alcoholic is admitting they need help. Until that day in March I had never done that.”

Campbell didn’t know what the reaction of his family and friends would be. Would they just shrug their shoulders? Would they turn their backs on him the way he turned his back on everyone else? Had too many years of lying passed?

What? “Everyone I called breathed a sigh of relief. Everybody knew I was having a problem. Everyone except me.” Four days later, Campbell checked himself into an iRecover rehabilitation, addiction treatment and medical detox facility in Tees, Alberta near Lacombe, for 40 days.

“It saved my life. It made a miracle out of me. I’m excited about life for the first time since I was a kid. I’m a better father, a better person, a better son. I went in there for myself to make myself a better person,” said Campbell, who is back with Jodi, who is expecting another child. She’s an amazing person and I was pushing her away and blaming her because she was trying to help me. All she has ever done was help me.”

At iRecover, Campbell also found religion. “God is a big thing for me. I’m not a bible thumper or anything like that. But I found that help is there if you believe. It doesn’t have to be God, but you have to believe in something. Whether it’s God, a higher power, Mother Nature – something or someone that made the earth, the trees, the birds…

“I find myself talking to God every night. Nothing crazy but I sit down and believe in something greater than myself and something. Someone or something that is there when you are struggling. If iRecover can help me it can help anyone. I’m a better person and I like myself again.”

That wasn’t easy. “I had a massive chip on my shoulder. I was annoyed with everybody and everything. I didn't like myself. I treated other people like crap. I looked down at people all the time; I wasn’t a good person. I was angry all of the time,” said Campbell, who has won seven driving titles in Alberta and B.C. and has proved his talent to everyone.

But what had winning races got him? “Nothing,” he said matter-of-factly. “I’d win five or six races on a card and it was never enough. I wanted more and more. I was never satisfied.”

Even when he won the 2016 Canadian Driving Championship in London, Ontario – the first Western Canadian driver to do so – he wasn’t satiated. Instead, he was already planning how he would win last year’s World Driving Championship, which was being held on Canadian soil starting at Balzac’s Century Downs, a track in which he knows every inch of.

But then he watched those dreams crumble and fall apart like shards of broken glass. Less than two weeks before the World Driving Championship, one of Campbell’s horses, Ima Dude, tested positive for an antihistamine, pyrilaimine, which is a common ingredient in cold remedies for humans, and ephedrine, a decongestant.

Suspended for six months, Campbell was unable to compete in the ‘worlds.’ He has appealed this ruling. As if just to rub it in, Campbell was replaced by Ontario’s James MacDonald, who wound up winning the championship.

“I let it eat the (hell) out of me. I lost it. I got really mad and went back to B.C. where I knew a lot of drug dealers and basically locked myself in a hotel for four months. “I pushed my family away, I pushed my girlfriend away, I pushed away everyone. I used massive amounts of cocaine and OxyContin. I went nuts. I was on a mission. I probably went through $50,000 in two months. I wasted every cent I had.”

Then Campbell took that fateful drive back to Alberta, stopped on the roadside and made the phone calls that would finally turn his life around. “I’m in a place I never thought I’d see,” said Campbell, who explained that he has been drinking since he was 12 and using opiates for five years.

Campbell’s dad, Sanford, said the change in his son is amazing. “He’s remarkable right now. He sure isn’t the same person he was last fall,” said Sanford, who came out of semi-retirement to help out his son. This summer at Century Downs, Sanford was the meet’s leading trainer while Brandon was the leading driver.

“He went through hell; we all went through hell. I didn’t know what the next phone call would bring,” said Sanford.

Back in the 1980s, Sanford trained a top stable of horses which included the likes of Spark And Ride (who was named champion three-year-old filly of the year), Triple Action (who won every stakes final he was in and who Sanford said “built me my first house”), Cruel Delight (who set two-year-old track records in both Calgary and Edmonton), and Kamikaze (whose only defeat as a two-year-old was at the hands of On The Road Again, a horse that inarguably was the best harness horse to come out of Alberta, having won 44 of 61 starts and $2.8 million). “Brandon goes to meetings two or three times a week,” said Sanford. “He has a brand new outlook on life.”

“I still struggle,” said Brandon, who hopes his story will help others in similar situations. “I still have bad days. I’m an alcoholic. I’m an addict. And I always will be. The disease isn’t going to go away. But as long as I keep going to meetings and be mindful and honest with myself, I’ll be able to lead a good life. For once I feel good about myself.”

(Courtesy thehorses.com/Curtis Stock)

October 8, 2018 - 11:49 pmI was hospitalized myself

I was hospitalized myself many years ago for similar circumstances. We sometimes as human beings think our bodies and spirits can do nasty things like drugs, drink, etc. and do them without consequences. We indeed are escaping from reality and everyone in our world.

The only way to beat something like this is to ask for help. Of course we can sit here and judge and say you should have stopped a long time ago but only when we hit rock bottom our we able to ask for the help we need to recover and be human again.

It is very hard to overcome drugs and drinking but with the help of doctors, meetings, family and friends and your own will to do it you can do it. Just say over... I can do this. I got this.

I wish you well in your recovery.

October 8, 2018 - 12:44 pmWe are the last ones to

We are the last ones to finally get it. You have finally found out what is true and right and a path for you to follow. Stay that course and walk it daily and even if it's small steps forward, it's still forward. Keep talking to him daily and he WILL provide you that path! God Bless

October 6, 2018 - 5:57 pmCongratulations Brandon. If

Congratulations Brandon. If you never achieve another thing, you have already achieved the best for you and your family.

October 3, 2018 - 11:07 amUse the talent that you were

Use the talent that you were given, and that only very few receive, to make life easier for you and your surroundings.

October 3, 2018 - 10:56 amDo not lose that faith

Do not lose that faith Brandon, you have given the people around you new life and enjoyment just watching you become the real man you were meant to be. It must be real nice going to sleep at night in peace with yourself and waking up in the morning with a smile. Say a little something to your self (prayer) to help you trough the day and you will be at peace all day.May the good LORD bless and look after you. LIFE IS SO PRECIOUS AND WONDERFUL, ENJOY IT WITH YOUR LOVE ONES. GOOD LUCK. My prayers will be with you always.

October 2, 2018 - 8:52 pmHang in Brandon. Best of

Rick Karper SAID...

Hang in Brandon. Best of luck.

October 2, 2018 - 7:59 pmHang in there,you can do it

Gerry Drew SAID...

Hang in there,you can do it

October 2, 2018 - 6:36 pmHey Brandon way to go. Horse

cy mcewen SAID...

Hey Brandon way to go. Horse racing has two sides, one bright lights and the other is very dark. I was there and spent much of my life down that dark road which seems endless. One day at a time my friend and you can achieve your dreams.
You drove Desire for Power for Sandra, my brother who was terminal and I to her only win . Your a super talent. Keep going to your meetings and your story will be great and you will help lots of others.

October 2, 2018 - 4:35 pmWay to go - congratulations!

Way to go - congratulations!


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