Crisis to Career: Jason Branham’s Story
Jason Branham is excited to be a taxpayer and gainfully employed. He works as a Chaplain at Addiction Recovery Care’s outpatient-treatment center in Prestonsburg, KY. He spends his days (and many nights) witnessing to men and women battling addiction, telling them that they are worthy and that they can overcome their disease. He knows. He’s been there.
Jason leads an abundant life today. A couple of years ago, his legal situation had gotten so bad that he feared he was headed toward a life sentence. Or worse, a death sentence at the hands of an overdose.
Jason is 39 years old. He grew up in Wheelwright, in Floyd County. He started using drugs as a teenager and hit the point that he considered himself addicted by the time he was 14 years old. He grew up hard, and drug use was simply the norm for a boy in his shoes. After 23 years of battling addiction, and spending time in and out of jails and prisons, Jason entered treatment at Belle Grove Springs, a residential-treatment center for men operated by Addiction Recovery Care near Morehead, KY.
During his first 30 days of treatment, Jason learned what it was like to live without drugs. He began to see that there was a life beyond addiction. He was showered with love and grace and taught that a life following Jesus was better than a life chasing drugs. From Belle Grove, he transferred to a another one of ARC’s men’s centers near Ashland, called Sannibel House. Entering the Phase 2 of ARC’s program, Jason started learning how to cope with life’s issues without resorting to drugs. He was clean and sober and learning how to stay that way.
As the days went by, Jason began to think about a life outside of running from the law and chasing his next fix. The spiritual side of ARC began to impress upon him, and he realized from the examples of ARC’s staff that he could potentially follow in their footsteps and help others escape their addiction. The spiritual side of ARC especially impressed him. He worked with men like Mike Greider, ARC’s pastoral consultant, who taught him for the first time that everyone- even Jason- had the authority to pray to God and ask for His mercy and grace.
The idea that he had the ability to pray to God came as a revelation to Jason. He learned that salvation was a free gift, and that his past didn’t bar him from receiving grace and forgiveness. He kept his head down and kept working on his addiction and soon entered Phase 3, a transitional living program maintained by ARC that is designed to teach men and women the skills they need to enter the workforce. While ARC maintains several Phase 3 initiatives, Jason entered the one in Ashland that’s operated in partnership with Grace Culture Church. Through this opportunity, he learned how to minister to men and women about not just sobriety, but the power of God in our lives. He learned to communicate that God has a destiny for all men and women, and began to wonder if dispensing grace to others might not be his own destiny.
When Jason finished with Phase 3, he took the risky step of going back home to Floyd County where he applied to be an intern at ARC’s outpatient center. He knew he was taking a chance, putting himself in close proximity to his old haunts and hangouts, but he was confident that the tools he’d learned while in treatment, and his resolve to dispense the love he himself had been shown, would sustain him.
After a year of sobriety and constant treatment, Jason was hired by Addiction Recovery Care. He now proudly works for the company that saved his life in the town that nearly killed him. He’s very much aware of the irony and takes great pleasure in it. His attitude is that if he can be saved, others can too. He’s gone from being in front of Judges dispensing justice, to being in their chambers trying to help them find treatment for others. He proudly tells anyone who’ll listen, that he’s the first person hired as a Chaplain for ARC who graduated from their program.
Jason’s philosophy on the long-term cure to addiction is simple: “All because of Jesus.” Jason believes drug addiction is nothing less than a death sentence. “When you know your way is a death sentence, you reach out to the boss who gives you a life sentence… and that’s Jesus.”