“My parents never drank, I never saw my parents use drugs. So the question I got was, how did someone like you end up using drugs?” Lee said.
Brandon Lee is a two-time Emmy-winning news anchor who has been in recovery for nearly a decade. He has bravely come forward about his addiction and surviving sexual abuse in his memoir Mascara Boy, and in a CNN interview, Lee spoke out about why he went public about his addictions and trauma, and how he hopes it can help others.
Lee was a TV anchor in Phoenix, New York and Atlanta. He grew up in the affluent community of Orange County, raised by teatotaling parents. Lee told AZ Central, “From the outside world, it looked like I had everything. My parents never drank, I never saw my parents use drugs. So the question I got was, how did someone like you end up using drugs?”
It took many years for Lee to deal with it in therapy, but he was sexually abused for years by both his piano teacher and his soccer coach. “That trauma untreated came out sideways,” he told CNN. “There was a lot of early childhood trauma I needed to address.”
Escaping With Cocaine
Lee started using cocaine at the age of 15, and he explains, “When I was given the opportunity to try a drug like cocaine to escape, I kept chasing that feeling. I kept chasing that escape.”
Once he became an adult, Lee became a successful TV reporter, and he hid his addictions well from the public. “When I was a reporter here in Los Angeles, I was living that double life. I wanted the public to see me as this Emmy-winning news reporter doing a professional job. When the 10 o’clock news was over with that’s when I went to the slums of LA and started using hardcore drugs.”
Lee’s drug abuse finally culminated in an overdose, and the person he was partying with called 911. He wound up on life support, and a kind nurse gave him 10 dollars to take a cab to go to an AA meeting. Lee made the meeting, “and I have been sober ever since that day on February 22, 2010.”
After Lee got sober, he did a documentary on the opioid crisis in Arizona “to try and break the stereotype of what the public perception of a drug addict is.”
Lee then saw the internet troll comments in response to his report, and it broke his heart. He got on the phone to his sponsor, and said, “I’m eight years sober and it’s time for me to break my anonymity.”
“I needed to let the viewers know that the people that they were ripping in my documentary, that I used to be that junkie about a decade ago,” Lee told CNN. “Do they think of me that way? Do they think of me as trash and scum? The most important message we can get out there is that addiction does not discriminate.”