Former Valley news anchor shares his story of abuse, addiction
PHOENIX — Brandon Lee has never been dependent on opioids, but he knows what it feels like to be spiraling out of control from addiction.
The award-winning former 3TV news anchor told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James & Pamela Hughes on Friday that he managed to live a double life for years as a successful professional suffering behind the scenes.
“So as long as my closest friends and my family never knew the depths of my addiction then it wasn’t really happening,” Lee said.
He began doing cocaine at 15. Later in life, as he was working as reporter in Los Angeles, he said he would leave his shift at night and take liquid GHB (a date rape drug) in the parking lot.
One weekend, he overdosed twice in the streets and was revived by “a team of miracle workers.”
“This nurse heard me crying and she came into my hospital room and she asked me, ‘Do you believe in God?’ And I said ‘No, I do not.’ And she goes, ‘That’s OK, because God still believes in you,'” Lee said.
“And she handed me this little piece of paper, and she goes, ‘Listen, I know at my church they have one of these AA things.’ She goes, ‘Just promise me if you ever get out of here you’ll go.’ And I said OK. And I went to that meeting; I’ve been sober ever since that day.”
Lee said he went through intense therapy that revealed to him his drug and sex addiction was tied to the sexual abuse he endured as a teenager.
He said that as a child he was repeatedly molested by both his piano teacher and youth soccer coach. He also struggled with shame over his homosexuality.
“And I realized at age 15, I escaped, and I felt that numbness. And all I wanted to do was chase that numbness,” he said.
Lee said covering a story on needle exchange programs during his recovery changed his perspective on keeping quiet about his troubled past.
“We met a kindergarten teacher in line for heroin needles. I met a mother who had her two kids in the back of a Land Rover … and it broke my heart,” he said.
“And when that story aired, I was looking at the comments that viewers posted, and it was bad. They were calling them ‘scum,’ they were calling them ‘trash’ … and I went home that night and cried. I cried because that was me.”
Lee said he called his 12-step recovery sponsor that night and decided to go public with his story, regardless of any negative consequences on his career.
He resigned from his position last year and wrote a memoir called “Mascara Boy” in hopes that it would inspire other people to speak up.
“The reason why I wrote this book is this: I want to do an entire movement, #EndTheStigma. I am calling on all of my sober brothers and sisters who feel safe enough … break your anonymity,” he said.
“Go onto social media, tell your story about how you survived your addiction. Put a face to it. Give that person at home who is suffering in silence a reason to come forward and ask for help.”
To reach the Arizona Opioid Assistance and Referral Line, call 1-888-688-4222, or visit the website for more information.