Actor visits Vt. to share story of addiction, recovery

ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. (WCAX) "I was a 20-year heroin, I.V. and cocaine user," Brandon Novak said.

And during part of that time, strung out on drugs, Novak was also starring in the popular MTV movie "Jackass," a pop culture phenomenon that came out on the early 2000s.

"In theory, I was a very successful individual. I did things in life that people equate to success and happiness," Novak said. "In reality, I was a 35-year-old homeless heroin addict."

Novak, who is also a former professional skateboarder, remembers his last day high very well. He says it was one of several times he hit rock bottom.

"I was stranded at BWI airport," he recalled. "I had just woken up from being on life support for seven days. My mother had bought me a plot. People had taken life insurance policies out of me."

So, he decided to get clean. Novak just celebrated three years sober.

"Sobriety has given me everything drugs and alcohol had promised me," he said.

But he says what it hasn't given him is all the answers. The MTV movie he starred in is all about taking things to the extreme and inflicting a lot of pain on the main characters. A bit ironic since Novak says nowadays, he tackles his addiction through harm reduction.

"Just do something. If something doesn't work, then we learn from that something and try something else," he said.

Now, he's helping others, most recently on a quick tour through Vermont, literally putting himself out there for people in need. He insisted we share his personal cell number-- 610-635-9092.

Asked if he misses the glitz and glamour of his past life, Novak said that he might have as a young man but he's moved on. And he hopes others find the strength to do the same.

"The reality is if I can do it, anybody can do it," he said. "That is the point I like to get out to people."

The Regional Prevention Partnership Grant Initiative helped fund Novak's appearances in Vermont.