In an exclusive interview with CNN, Brandon Lee Rudat, an award-winning American journalist and news anchor spoke out about how he created a documentary on the heroin and opioid crisis to change public perception about those who struggle with substance abuse. After an onslaught of negative feedback from viewers calling those suffering from addiction “trash,” “homeless,” and “people to be discarded,” Lee decided to come forward with his own personal story.
After catching wind of the comments viewers had been making, he called his sponsor from his 12-step recovery group and decided it was time to break his anonymity in order to show people that anybody could suffer from the disease of addiction, including someone who seems as put-together as himself. With over eight years clean and sober, Lee wanted to show people that he used to be the junkie that they were so callously disregarding and dehumanizing. He stands by his belief that addiction doesn’t discriminate and that it can affect anybody, even a local evening news anchor.
Overdosing in the Streets of LA
Lee used to get high at raves and circuit parties, and his drug addiction co-occurred with and fueled a sex addiction as well. He upheld this strung-out, wild lifestyle in the “slums of Los Angeles” for as long as possible, keeping it hidden and separate from the professional, Emmy-award winning, clean-cut life as a news anchor. He had to come to terms with the fact that he was living a double life in order to try and cover up how bad his addiction had gotten.
Once he would finish the evening news at 10PM, he would go out seeking drugs in the worst parts of the city to find his fix. Lee overdosed one night with a running partner who called the ambulance before fleeing the scene. He was rushed into the hospital twice that week, and fell into a coma while being sustained by life support. After he came out of the second coma, a nurse who took care of him at the hospital encouraged him to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that was happening that night at her church. She gave him enough money to pay for the cab to the meeting once he was discharged, and made him promise that he would attend the meeting at least once.
Addressing the Roots of His Addictions
Lee turned to drugs and sex at the age of fifteen, which compounded over the years until it became a habit he couldn’t manage at the age of thirty. After seeking therapy and realized that being sexually abused as a child was a trauma that he had never addressed, and as a result he sought to cope by using drugs and having sex. By addressing the root causes, Brandon Lee Rudat’s addiction became a thing of the past. He was able to find healthy coping mechanisms and stay clean and sober since going to his first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on February 22, 2010. Lee hopes that by sharing his story, others will finally begin to humanize addicts and give them the respect and care they deserve.