Brad Bentley’s Road to Recovery

Man leaning over a railing

Now a near-celebrity on the campus of Springfield’s Crown Recovery Center, Pike County native Brad Bentley reflects on his life, addiction, and the choices that help him make every day his Day One.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2024 issue of Living Recovery. To view the full issue click here.

When you walk around Crown Recovery Center, there is one man with almost celebrity-like status. Everyone on campus knows his name; and most have heard his story of redemption, seizing every opportunity, and overcoming the odds.

In 2020, Brad Bentley sat alone. Back then, he called a former dorm room home. Brad took his few belongings with him: some shirts, pants, and shoes. He stared out the third-floor window, overlooking a sprawling campus of opportunity. As Brad had often done, he contemplated, “How did I end up here?” Answers evaded him.

Humble Beginnings

Bentley grew up in the tiny Pike County community of Marrowbone. With a population of just over 200, most relied on the coal industry to survive, and Bentley’s family was no different. By the time he was in high school, Brad was beginning to party. The occasional night out on the town would evolve into a full-blown battle with addiction for 22 years. He found work occasionally, much of that time spent digging coal with his brother. During his time working underground, Brad’s addiction worsened. “I cared more about drugs than I did my kids,” he regretfully admits.

When is Enough Enough?

At one point, Brad quit drugs and started to piece his life back together, spending a few years sober – until his dad died. Like many who battle addiction, drugs or alcohol become an escape from trauma. And just like that, Brad found himself in its unyielding grasp once again. “I didn’t know where to turn or how to ask for help,” said Brad. “Where I grew up, there weren’t places like ARC. If there were, we didn’t know about it.”

With his life spiraling out of control, Bentley started using harder drugs. Brad didn’t know where to turn with his dad gone and his wife and kids creating a life away from him. He overdosed three times and even spent time in a coma, and those who loved him asked: “When is enough – enough?”

“I used anything I could get my hands on; cocaine, meth, crack cocaine. When I was using, no one could stop me,” Brad admitted. “Dying didn’t scare me. I would tell myself, I’m not going to use as much this time, or I would find someone to be there with me in case I overdosed.” His rock bottom came a few days before finding the help he needed at ARC.

Brad only weighed 125 pounds, and his mom feared she was losing her son. “My mom couldn’t even roll down the car window to speak to me because she was scared of the person I had become,” Brad said. “It was then that I asked her for help.” Brad spent the next 12 months in treatment, he became the first person at Crown Recovery Center to obtain his GED. “I just thank God for the opportunity to be here,” Brad said. “Crown Recovery Center changed my life. It’s hard to put into words. It’s one of those things that’s unbelievable.”

Hundreds of Day Ones

“For me, the number one started as a reminder: ‘I’m getting sober,’” said Brad. “It took me years to get past the first day. It is a reminder to keep looking forward, don’t stress about what has happened, and live in the moment.” Brad has rebuilt relationships with his four children, frequently visiting to attend their various sporting events several hours away in Pike County. Earlier this year, Governor Andy Beshear heard about Bentley’s story and recognized him during his State of the Commonwealth address.

“It was a complete shock to me,” Brad recollected. “Now there are people who come here from back home and tell me, ‘If it weren’t for your story, I wouldn’t be here today.’” One of those people is Brad’s younger brother. “This is where recovery meets God,” Brad said. “God knew exactly what he was doing when he led me to Addiction Recovery Care. It’s what I needed, and now I get to help transform other people’s lives.” Brad will begin the next chapter of his life this year – pursuing a college degree and continuing his career, right where his journey started on Day One of his new life.