How This Former Addict Uses The Powerful Tool of Storytelling to Help Drug Users Recover On Purpose

Victoria Kennedy

Victoria Kennedy writes: 

Adam Vibe Gunton presented as the ideal all-American kid. He was an All-A student, all-state football player, and captain of the high school wrestling team. But Gunton carried a dark secret. He was addicted to drugs.

No thanks to some unfortunate influences in his life, Gunton started experimenting with recreational substances at age 11. Drinking turned into using cocaine and smoking pot, which eventually evolved into shooting smack.

Gunton considered it partying, nothing more than having a little fun. He would have never predicted that one day he’d find himself homeless and cowering on the floor of a crack den, staring up the barrel of a gun while silently wishing the drug dealer who stood over him would just pull the trigger and end his emotional suffering once and for all.

Although Gunton says he had a fairly ideal childhood, two significant tragedies struck before age 20. First, Gunton grew up in Littleton, Colorado. He clearly remembers the strange fear he felt on April 20, 1999, as his teachers and administrators frantically called students in early from recess at Columbine Hills Elementary and locked them in their classrooms for the remainder of the afternoon. Almost every American adult can remember the massacre that took place at Gunton’s local high school that day: over the course of several hours, two students murdered 13 of their classmates and faculty members.

In 2015, in another narrow escape from death, the cops found him slumped over the wheel of his running car, nearly dead from an overdose. The cops that arrived on the scene were wearing their body cams and Gunton had to watch them pull his lifeless body out of that car on a 52” television screen in a courtroom a few months after the incident. This was still not enough of a “consequence” to empower him to get sober. Gunton says, “Once you’re hooked, you’re hooked. People who haven’t been addicted just don’t understand why we can’t stop. That’s why it is so imperative we get into the minds of kids before they start going down this path. We as recovered addicts must save them from experiencing all the horrors we did.”

Gunton was in fourth grade.

Childhood Traumas

The second tragedy happened years later, in college, when Gunton woke up at 4:47 in the morning to the sound of his phone ringing. His best friend, Chucker, was calling.

“Hello?” answered Gunton, groggy from another night of getting trashed and irritated at the intrusion.

“Don’t call me this late,” he barked and hung up the phone.

Chucker went directly over to his dresser, pulled out his .32 revolver from his drawer, and shot himself. Because of the shock and guilt that Adam felt, he didn’t tell anyone about the call for eight years as his relationship with drugs and alcohol took on a new meaning and dependence.

Storytelling with a Purpose

These days, Gunton is telling anyone who’ll listen to everything about his past. It’s much more than his way of healing himself. It’s how he wrote his autobiographical bestseller From Chains To Saved and built a seven-figure business within two years of getting clean. It’s also how he teaches others to heal themselves, too.

Through his movement, Recovered On Purpose, Gunton talks about a new approach to staying sober. See, Gunton doesn’t believe recovery needs to be a life-long process that binds former addicts into focusing on little beyond their sobriety. He believes that people who’ve gotten derailed by problems with drugs and alcohol can overcome the addiction and recovery mindset by rediscovering and diving deep into the dreams they held before they got hooked.

It’s by honing in on one’s life’s purpose and attaching to that mission that Gunton feels his readers and clients can successfully commit to a sober lifestyle. And it’s by sharing their stories far and wide that they can help keep younger generations from succumbing to a similar fate. Working in groups of fewer than ten, Gunton shares his success strategies with Recovered On Purpose clients so they, too, can put their words to work as weapons in the war against addiction.

The Cavalry Ain’t Comin’

With his characteristic honesty, Gunton tells addicts, “The cavalry ain’t comin’,” to get them to kick their habit. Saving oneself has to start from within.

“You know what you need to do to get out,” he says. “But here’s the thing, if you choose to get out, Recovered On Purpose is here to connect you with the purpose, to connect you with the meaning, and to connect you with the reason why you went through all that pain.”

Stories of Success

Brittany Priestley is the first recovered addict to become a published author through the Recovered On Purpose program. As it notes on Gunton’s website, Priestley’s book, Mommy Drunkest, became a bestseller the same day she celebrated three years of sobriety.

“If these books can make their way into the hands of those in need, then saving lives is possible,” she says.

An Army Against Addiction

Gunton is looking forward to helping more people like Priestley to finally break the chains of addiction.

“We are a movement of telling our stories in powerful and impactful ways, that will free others suffering from the bondage of addiction, as well as share our stories in the school system to deter the future generations from going down the path of addiction,” he says.

The stories of Recovered on Purpose clients will continue to be shared with society in the form of books, interviews, social media, and more. Most importantly, their stories will be utilized in the school system to deter future generations from going down the path of drug use and addiction.

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