A 22-year-old Gus Glasser shares how he’s building a life of purpose and growth away from substance abuse. Once a music major, music was his reason to stop “using.”
His mother Adele recounts a long history of Gus playing the class clown, thriving on attention, perpetually late, and exhibiting poor judgment and impulsivity – characteristics attributed to Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
She stated, “We never saw the anxiety nor the depression for which Gus self- medicated. Looking back, it was the perfect storm for abuse.”
Gus values his parents “There wasn’t a time when I felt I couldn’t talk to my parents about my struggles; I just didn’t want to admit that I had any. In high school, they drug-tested me, took the doors off my room, grounded me, arranged counseling, took away my phone and constantly reminded me to make good choices. While being home was safest, I would have gone anywhere to use. I’m an addict and there’s nothing my parents could have done to stop me.”
College freshman year at the University of Georgia, the physical appearance of the classical piano major deteriorated (weight gain, ungroomed, Garfield eyes), but Gus made straight As. By sophomore year, Gus couldn’t manage his drug use and stated, “I totally bailed on college. I would skip class, miss projects, sleep until 1 p.m., smoke, take ADHD meds to balance, make music, eat, smoke, watch TV, hang with friends, smoke, watch YouTube, hang in my dealer’s dorm room, and pass out. I was a mess and wasting my creativity, intellect and ambition.”
When Gus chose to remain at school over winter break, Dad Gary reached out to his own co-workers at the UGA’s University Health Center for an addiction specialist.
Gus was suffering and agreed to weekly sessions. He slowly surrendered to the idea of residential treatment in South Africa.
Gary said, “We expressed our gratitude for his bravery and found a program in South Africa that was his best chance at surviving this chronic disease.”
Gus thought he’d be home in 90 days, but spent nine months immersed in learning, implementing tools and getting to the root of “why” he used. He returned to Atlanta with a plan to find a sponsor, work a humble job, and live in a sober community.
Gus conceded, “It has been extremely challenging because I’ve had to grow up. Part of me will always miss my days of ignorance. I hated who I was becoming. At the time, I didn’t know if I could balance my passion for music and living a clean life, but I’m learning that it’s possible.“
Offering advice, Gus mused, “I don’t wish my path on anyone. Each person’s relationship with drugs is different. I drank until I passed out and couldn’t stop smoking. Most of my friends were able to manage their intake, and it hasn’t impacted their lives negatively.
“If you find that the drugs take more from life than they give, please consider help. I’m no longer stuck and feel my music is better than ever.”
Adele remarked that the family used the time Gus was “away” to learn the differences between enabling and supporting. “Today, Gus knows we’re here for love and encouragement – that he’s solely responsible for his recovery. Gus returned to us more present, engaged and thoughtful. We call him Gus 2.0! Each day, we watch Gus evolve as he commits to living a life without drugs.”
Gus concluded, “Without the cloud of drugs and alcohol, I’ve been forced to deal with my emotions, thoughts and decisions, which has been incredibly painful. Every day I struggle to do what’s in my best interest instead of what I want in the moment. Just for today, I’m proud of my progress.”
Find Gus Glasser on social media @mcgymnasty.