Join us in talking to Michael Towers about overcoming addiction. He has been a mental health and addictions counselor for over 20 years. He is also a motivational speaker focusing on leadership and overcoming adversity.
Michael has experienced first hand what it means to overcome addiction, and he talks about the impact that Christianity and the message of Jesus has had on his life. After struggling with addiction and mental health issues for much of his life Michael talks about the moment his life was turned around.
It can often seem like the struggles we have in our life can be insurmountable, especially when it comes to topics like addiction and mental health. Sometimes it can be hard to see a way out of our current situation. Hearing from people who have been through these experiences can be a guiding light into our own lives. Sometimes the beauty of our struggle is realized when we are able to reach back and help someone else.
This podcast is produced by BeFun BeKind Podcasts. If you’re interested in starting or growing a podcast like this one visit Befunbekind.com to start your journey.
Brent: Today, we are talking to Michael Towers. He has been a mental health and addictions counselor for over 20 years. He’s a motivational speaker leadership expert, and simply has an amazing story.
Michael Towers. It is a pleasure to have you on the podcast today. I love to start off asking people, what is Jesus doing in your life right now? And I know that you have an amazing story, and I know you’re going to share that with us today, but I just want to start off with that specifically. What is Jesus doing in your life within just the past six months?
Michael Towers: Especially with my background, when we talk about bipolar and the grandiosity that comes with that. What I know is that sitting around and praying for him to, bless me is something that I can’t just sit back and pray and hope that I have to go out and take the actions and know that the results of that effort are his will for me.
So I’m in this season of doing what it is that one would do to be able to pursue that dream and then accept his will. Now, if his will is not for me to be a professional speaker my relationship and my love for Jesus Christ won’t change.
So right now, my life scripture is the exalted will be humbled and the humbled will be exalted. So it’s all right. Am I going to rest on my laurels? So now I’m a professional speaker and he’s blessed me and now I’m going to take it easier.
Am I going to keep hustling? Am I going to keep grinding? Because he’s provided me with these opportunities, I’m going to work even harder. So that’s where I’m at now, my morning star off with prayer time, it starts off with devotional. Deuteronomy, which I cannot wait to get out of Deuteronomy.
I cannot wait to get out of the woods and get into Josh. I start off with every Doswell chambers, which I think I’m in the third year of reading this devotional because Osmo chambers I think is probably the best mouthpiece for Christ second to Paul. And right now I’m reading Gary. Chapman’s five love languages, devotional, which I think is phenomenal for my wife and I’s marriage.
So I’ll spend 45 minutes to an hour praying that I can be in his presence. I’m meditating on the word. Reading and just trying to stay in his presence. Just looking for his will in everything that I do.
I have a great church. I serve, we tied and I have, we played golf with my pastor yesterday. I’m going on a golf trip with my pastor this weekend. So stay very active with the people in my Church. And I find that’s the recipe that works for me.
Brent: That’s amazing. I appreciate you sharing that. And I tell you, Michael, one of the things that I really love about you, and I really love about your story specifically, is your transparency. Like you dive into some of these topics, you’re not afraid to talk about some of the struggles that you’ve dealt with and some of the struggles that a lot of people deal with that really never gets talked about.
And that’s one reason I’m just. Pumped about some of the discussions today or. The discussions that we’re going to go in today is to, really just bring some of those things to the forefront. And so with that, I know you have a cool story and I want our audience to understand where this conversation is coming from a little bit better.
So if you would just take a bit and help us understand. Your journey, why you are so passionate about helping people with mental health and addiction issues. I know you do a lot of Christian mental health counseling now, and that is a part of your background. So walk us through how you got here.
Michael Towers: Yeah. So when I was, as young as I can remember, it was kindergarten and I would go to school and I would have a calendar. And every day a teacher would have to write on that calendar. They would have to give me a smiley face, a straight face, or a friendly face that indicated how my behavior was that day.
Sometimes I would cut my own smiley face out and use a glue stick and put it on there. And obviously my parents saw that I did that, but what I realized is none of the other kids had this calendar.
In the third grade it was a green slip or a red slip that I had to bring home. And I was always different. And somewhere around that time, I had to go to see a therapist.
And then I get put on Ritalin, which I can tell you. I can remember voices in my head. And I don’t think I communicated that when I was younger, that there were voices.
So I’m taking medication I’m going to therapy, but shortly after that I’m getting bullied because I’m a freak and I’m crazy because I have to go to the nurse’s office and take medication.
So by the eighth grade, I denied therapy, denied medication because I didn’t want to get made fun of anymore. And my eighth grade year, I was suspended 23 times. I brought a handgun to school.
And an amazing thing happened during that time. And that was my guidance counselor, took a look at my functional scores and saw that I had graded near perfect.
And what that did was it put me with a group of kids that played sports and wanted to want to do achieve goals. And when they did that, my suspensions went from 23 to nine to five, to two.
And then when I got to college, college has this freedom and it is a freedom that, you might’ve able to handle. But when I got there and realized that I had a choice as to whether I went to my 8:00 AM class or not, it wasn’t a week or two in that I didn’t go to my 8:00 AM class. And then when there was Wednesday night at the frat houses and Thursday night, they’d sneak us into the bars. I drank from Wednesday to Sunday.
And when I found out very early on, as at once I took a drink, I couldn’t stop. It is hard to succeed in college when you drink from Wednesday to Sunday.
I had trouble in college almost immediately. I dropped out, I was working at a car dealership with a bunch of other people like me, that, we’re doing a lot of substances and addiction issues. My friends are about to be lawyers and account executives and I’m so far away from my goals, it’s crazy. I’m going to a stairway to nowhere and my life is dark.
And I remember one night that I was drinking with a bunch of friends down in Baltimore city and we were at a bar and I was in a blackout. You can go to the diagnostic statistical manual, mental health disorders, and you could find out exactly what alcohol abuse disorder looks like.
But for me, I got two definitions for you. And one, if you have a personality change due to your drinking you have a problem with alcohol.
My last drink was September 1st and 98. I was in a hotel room with a bunch of guys smoking pot, and I said out loud, I don’t want to do this anymore. And they all said, you say that every time we get together and you have no power over this man, you can’t quit.
You’re powerless. And I did my first step. With a bunch of other drug addicts. And when they cleared my hotel room that night, I got on my knees and I prayed to God. I didn’t believe in.
I didn’t believe in myself anymore.
And my life was a mess. And that night I got on my knees and I asked God to help me. Cause I knew I couldn’t do it on my own. And when I woke up that next morning, normally I’m waking up and I’m grabbing something dirty off the floor and I’m rolling out of the house, like a cyclone that just runs through everything and anyone that gets in the way of what I want.
And when you look in the rear view, it’s, ruined relationships, wasted, potential, and destruction. And that morning I woke up and I sensed a peace. I felt a peace that I just sat back at bed and sat in this piece. And I knew without of a shadow of a doubt that I would never drink again for the rest of my life.
And I had felt the presence and the grace of God. I went from hopeless to full of hope, and I haven’t had a drink since November 13th, 1998. It’s been 23 years.
Brent: I know Jesus came back into your life in a very strong way.
What are some specific things that you have learned about Jesus that has really poured into you in what you were experiencing. What really pulled you through some of those things.
Michael Towers: I’m a big, not worry guy. When the Bible says that worry, doesn’t add a single hour on your life or a single minute on your life. I take that very literally and try not to focus on a whole lot of worry.
I’ll check in with God about my fear and about being scared, but worry is not something I stay in and I’ll give you a real practical example that I can remember. One time I had parked a used Mercedes that I owned out in an area that was a tow zone at. Four o’clock in the afternoon and I’d misplaced my key, which was a laser cut key.
And by misplacing that key by four o’clock, that car was going to get towed, which is an obscene amount of money if it gets towed, plus a daily fee and all that. But with the key lost I was going to need to get a new key, which was an amount of money, but with no key, the car was going to need to get towed out to a dealership.
And I can remember sitting down for about five minutes with this quandary of this, car’s going to get towed or I’m going to have to pay for it to get towed to a dealership and just sitting there and praying to God for about five minutes and then getting up and doing what needed to be done in that particular situation.
Whereas, anxiety was never my deal being crushed with, what am I going to do? And being overwhelmed by that. God, I’m giving you this, I’m casting this onto you, which means I’m going to throw it out and let it go. So casting all of that on to you with God, you look at Peter, which is the only other person that we are aware of that documented in the history that walked on water.
And he walked on water for two steps and then dropped in the water when he took his eyes off of God. I have dropped in the water numerous times in my life, and I promise you that every time that I did was the moment that I stopped looking to Christ. And I don’t know, I don’t want to ever look at you and tell you that I’m terminally unique, but there is something about Mike Towers, there’s a worship song called Give Me Faith by Elevation Worship. For Mike towers, that is a minute at a time and I gotta be focused on Christ because for whatever reason, you give me a second on my own and I’m going to sink, and so that’s the way it’s been for me is that I gotta walk and I gotta focus on Christ.
I am a great at the valley. Great. I do so well at rock bottom, and I struggle on the mountaintops. The moment you hear me say, man, I did this. I did that. I’m great.
Look out, call my psychiatrist and call my pastor. Jesus’s ministry certainly told me so much. I read the Ragamuffin Gospel was one of the number one things in my life. I read it under a tree after home separated and divorced from my ex-wife and then dating a bunch because I just wanted to replace her, which was so counterintuitive to the process and what was supposed to happen. And I was dying from shame and guilt, and I got to the point where I hit rock bottom with that.
And I, I saw the Ragamuffin Gospel with somebody got me, and I realized that not only did Christ come to Earth, he came to Earth for me. He came to Earth for throwaways and Ragamuffins. And when I realized that I looked up and I said, if he can circumvent and navigate the entire galaxy to die for someone that’s screwed up over and over again, if he can do what he did for people like me than I can try a little harder today to obey.
Brent: Wow. I think a lot of people may say, what does the Bible say about mental health? They may not understand that there are a lot of parallels there. And I think what you just said is. One of the best examples that you could give about how that is buried in there in so many aspects and so many steps of what Jesus did.
And so much of the message that we see that he gave to us. You talked about Peter and you talked about him walking on water and taking his eyes off of Jesus. And that’s when he fell and wow. What a profound way to describe something that we all go through, right. I mean, there are different areas in our life where we all struggle to some degree mentally.
We really have to step back in those moments and figure out what our priorities are. I believe in figure out what is really causing us to struggle. And I think, I’m obviously not an expert in this area, but I would imagine that a lot of the things that lead to things like addiction and a lot of the things that lead to really being mentally unhealthy is trying to fix those things on our own, and we get absorbed in that and we can’t fix it.
And so we go a step further and we go a step further and we go a step further. And what I’ve just heard you say is Jesus provides us a path that we don’t really have to do that on our own.
He gives us a scenario. He gives us a model to follow that says, Hey, Do this right here, follow what I’m telling you. Follow my life, follow what I am doing and what I lived out. You don’t have to figure this out on your own.
Is that a good summary?
Michael Towers: Yeah, absolutely. As I’m praying and meditating, which means Christ, I’m going to Christ and praying and meditating.
That is a piece that you and I will not go without. What I hear is we’ll grab a basketball, put it by the front door, go swimming. These are all things that you’ll do because you like doing those right. And move around, just move around 30 minutes of basketball or swimming or racketball. And you’ll get the mental health benefits of exercise.
Christ told me that on the river, looking at these trees, praying and meditating to him. But with people, right? You’re going to talk to the people in your life, your pastor your accountability partners, to people at church, they’re going to give you ideas and things of that nature too.
But the Bible’s clear in Proverbs, you got to talk to many counselors. So the Bible reaffirms that we need to talk to the doctors, to psychiatrist, to counselors. So that’s there too. So 100%, it’s a great way to communicate that, we need to use prayer and Christ. He created all these amazing things, but I used to believe for a long time and I’m no dummy. I would say I’m an idiot, but I’m no dummy. But for the longest time, I thought that it was spiritual, physical, and mental, that they were three pieces that needed to be all taken care of for the person to be whole.
But what now I realize is it’s mental and physical and Jesus has to be here. These have to be through the lens of Christ. So it’s Christ guide me, direct my steps, show me the way. And then we make our decisions based on, his vision for us.
Brent: Yeah, definitely. And just to pull out something that you mentioned that probably a lot of people know about, but maybe not. There are a lot of really great Christian mental health counseling opportunities out there. If you’re in that spot and you need something like that, there’s some also just some really great Christian mental health support groups out there that people can get involved in and people can really dive into.
Is that something that you found along the way that was helpful at all for you?
Michael Towers: Yeah. So I will tell you without telling you that I’m a member of a 12 step program. So you know what, with anonymity, I won’t tell you specifically, but I joined a 12 step program about five months before I got sober. My dad was in one about six months before I went to my first meeting.
When I went to college and I took my first individual counseling class they asked us who was in recovery and it is not abnormal for there to be, a number of people that are in recovery to be going to counseling to try to be a substance abuse, counselor, that idea of giving back or trying to get to the field to help because having recovered and, I raised my hand that I was in recovery.
And the counselor said for those of you that have your hands raised. You’re going to be biased counselors because you believe that the 12 steps are the best way to get sober. And I didn’t necessarily agree with that because there are different modes, like celebrate recovery and different types of cognitive behavior therapy.
And there are other modes, but I, and I was new in recovery. So I hadn’t yet made that distinction yet. But after 20 years in the field, Going to California and counseling at high-end $80,000 a month rehabs and being at inner city clinics. What I now believe more than ever is the 12 steps are 100% the best way to get sober, everything that is in the literature for the program.
And it’s the first 12 step program. And that’ll give you a little bit. That I go to is from the Bible. I can take you to so much of the literature that comes right from the Bible. And it came the founder came from a Christian program and he left there because of some of the things that we’re saying were highly controversial.
So he left and they started this program. so what I will tell you is that it was Christian. kept it higher power. So that more people could come, right? But I can show you all the different ways that came from the Bible, but what the 12 steps do is they, and what I told you, the difference was believing in God, which is a step two, and believing that a God can restore your sanity.
And step three is turning your role in life over to the care. When I tell you about some of the things that I did in my story. Was this period of time where I believed in God, right when I got on my knees on November 13th of 98. And he relieved me of my alcoholism. I believed in God, he changed my life. I no longer have the desire to drink and I haven’t had it for 23 years, but it took me six years to turn my will and life over to God.
So therefore turning my will and life over to God. I had the life that I wanted planned, and I didn’t know if me and God were aligned there and my life was a train wreck until I turned it over to him.
That’s the third step, but four and five is about doing an inventory on all your resentment. All the conduct in your life, that was inappropriate. So you can learn what proper conduct is. And then looking at all your fears and then six and seven is your character defects becoming a better person.
Eight and nine is making all the amends and then 10 and 11 is about making things, right? The moment you make them wrong. That’s the whole Matthew you’d have to tell me exactly what it is, but it’s about leaving your goods at the altar. And going back out and making it right with your brother right away.
Right, it’s the first time God says, leave your stuff with me and go out. Go out there and make it right with your brother. And then 11 assaulted per meditational. Improve your conscious contact with me. You’re becoming Christ like.
And then 12 is having done that go out and help other people. So there’s the 12 steps. That’s what life changes. Postponing, a drink and not drinking isn’t life change. It’s just not drinking. The same alcoholic will drink again. The same drug addict will use again. So the 12 steps change who you are and then set you on a path to lead people to change.
Brent: Something that I have noticed a lot is when any of us are in those types of scenarios where, we’re just really struggling at something how beneficial it can be to switch your mind, to helping someone else go through their struggle or walk through with someone else. And I know that is exactly what you are doing now. Like you’ve walked through this, you’ve been through this and you have really refocused your life into helping people walk through what you just walked through.
And I would love for you to touch on number one what you have received from that. Just sort of personal benefits that you’ve gotten from that. And number two, How you think that really changes our mindset. If you’re struggling with something, if you maybe even have an addiction, how changing your mindset and saying, Hey, let me go help someone else that is maybe in a worse position than I am.
So I’m not focusing on this all the time. Just what are
Blank: thoughts on that?
Michael Towers: Yeah. I realized, to give you a little better answer to your last question. Joining a support group, being a group counselor, when you go to a group, this group psychotherapy principle called installation of hope. And when you’re around other people that are farther along in you and you realize that they’re getting better and they have the same stuff that you do.
You get a sense of hope because you realize you can get better too. is a principle that you don’t want to miss. So getting involved in some type of group therapy is absolutely important. Getting involved with small groups in your Church, where you can be around common people. I’m leading a group actually on addiction and mental health for my Church this semester and our fall semester.
So groups are huge. So if you’re Christian, you want to make sure you get to a Christian therapist, but these are all things that are helpful, Safe Harbor is a good one.
You can find them online now. So if you’re not ready to quite walk out the house, there are online available, but yes, groups, seeing a therapist, all these things are gonna help. When I walked into 12 step program and I saw that last step, I thought, I don’t see how helping other person is going to help me with all the problems that I have.
But when I started cleaning ashtrays at meetings and and I started making coffee, it is really hard to worry about your own problems. When you’re doing tasks and you’re helping out and you’re talking to other people as you’re doing these tasks and yeah, when you’re talking to somebody else about their problems and their problems are worse and you’re giving them advice and you’re helping them out with their problems.
And it was really, again, hard to focus on what you’re you have going on and boredom and loneliness, or all things to be avoided when you’re severely depressed. You have tons of anxiety, getting up and going out and doing these things aren’t easy.
But for people with addiction issues or serious mental health issues, we have got to take contrary actions. When we don’t want to go we go. When we don’t want to help out we help out. When you don’t want to put chairs away. We put the chairs away, and we do these things. We feel better. And that, that is just it.
And it’s hard to explain, but when we go and pitch in, we feel better. And that’s the answer to your question. You have to do it to feel it, but when you do it and you actually help out and chip in, you just feel better.
Brent: Yeah, absolutely. I agree with that a hundred percent. Again I feel like I experienced that in, in different areas of my life. And I think that most people that I’ve talked to it’s just a reset. If you’re able to really pour into someone else, you’re not focusing your thoughts in quite as selfless as a way as you would be if you had an opportunity to pour into someone else. So I agree with that 100%
Michael, this has been great. Tell our audience where they can find more about you. I believe you do a lot of coaching. I know you do a lot of speaking and you just have your own platform that you really help people that are going through this type of thing.
Tell our audience, how they can connect with you, how they can stay in touch with what you’re doing.
Michael Towers: Yeah. So wanting to talk about how you can succeed and that being my primary motivation is to you live your best life. My website is SpeakingOfYourSuccess.com and then I’m on LinkedIn and it’s Michael towers now to get real. And I appreciate you saying that.
I think that in my space, in a speaking space, think when people ask what are you going to do differently than the other speakers? What value are you going to offer? I think 100%, without a doubt, authenticity realness the thing that I’m going to offer where if you’re a guy and you’re sitting there listening to a podcast, struggling with something that’s underneath, it’s in the darkness you’re hurting. you hear me talking about, when I came home from California I was separated from my ex-wife I was so lonely I’m having nightmares every night and I’m waking up crying my dog’s laying on top of me holding me down because he knows what pain I’m in.
And then the guy just looks up and goes, what did that guy say? You know, and struggling with something similar, trying to numb the pain that he’s in.
And so I say that to say, LinkedIn, or SpeakingOfYourSuccess.com, because I have an Instagram account, I have a Facebook account and I have a Twitter account, but you won’t find me on there.
Brent: Absolutely. Thank you so much. Definitely encourage our audience to check out some of those resources. Again, Michael, the things that I just really love about your story and about you specifically is that you really dive into some authentic things that a lot of people need to hear and you’re really are not afraid to give practical things that you’re doing right now, that are something that we all need to hear.
So I appreciate you sharing that number one, and I’ve just enjoyed this conversation and look forward to staying in touch with you. Thank you so much for coming on.
Michael Towers: Oh, it’s my pleasure.
Checkout some more of our Featured Conversations.
Watch our podcast tutorials to start creating your own impactful conversations with podcasting.