ELMIRA, N.Y. (WENY) -- The opioid epidemic continues to be a hot-button topic nationally as over 100,000 people die from overdose annually. For Sayre area native Brandon Parks, his addiction story started long before his life even began. 

"I was genetically predisposed to addiction. I had alcoholism and addiction in my family, said Parks, "My father actually died of a heroin overdose when I was four years old. I never knew him; I was two months old."

At a young age, he was exposed to both alcoholism and domestic abuse such as the time his dad beat his mom with a telephone receiver.  At the age of 12, Parks said he learned the story of his father’s life, unlocking his unfortunate entry into opioid usage.  

"[I] started to rebel against my mother and against her boyfriend at the time," Parks shared.

It was at Waverly high school where Brandon first encountered a group of individuals who also came from fatherless homes. This is when Parks first started smoking weed and drinking. The road he was going down would not last for long.

"I was arrested in New York and Pennsylvania in the same weekend when I was 12 years old. Ended up getting sent away. Went to the court. The judge gave my mom the option," added Parks.

The option was plain and simple, Brandon could be put on pins probation or sent him away. His Mom made the choice to send 12-year-old Brandon away. This was the first time the young boy entered a group home, and he was there for 17 months before his three months of 'freedom.'  

"In that three months, I ended up getting alcohol poisoning and was rushed to the hospital with, thank God my mom's friend, friend's mom took me to the hospital because I had a B-A-C of .32. I could have died from that," Brandon explained.

This violated Brandon’s aftercare care, and he was sent to another facility which was a higher level of care. This time, Brandon did 17 months in a place comparable to juvenile attention. He was released at the age of 16 and tried to move back in with his mom and her fiancé.

Brandon was kicked out, and has been on his own since.  

"I guess I didn’t realize how much pain I had inside of me. How much trauma I had. Because the way (drugs) numbed me. I love that feeling. From that point on, you know at 17 years old up until 25, I gradually turned into someone who needed to have opioids every single day," Parks recalled.

Over the next eight years, a lot happened for Brandon. He became the father of three kids. The intention was for Brandon to get sober. And he tried hard. Following gaining 50/50 custody of his youngest son Maverick – things got harder for Brandon.  

After weeks of dropping Maverick off at his mom’s house in 2021, Parks kept struggling with a dark feeling. Brandon eventually ended up using what he thought was heroin.

Brandon did more of the same drug following the accident, and after a 16-hour binge was found without a pulse. His brother-in-law saved him, and that proved to be Brandon’s moment of clarity.  

Brandon did more of the same drug and was not reachable for hours. His brother-in-law found him not responsive and laying on his arm, and doctors say that is the reason he got compartment syndrome in his arm. 

"If I can save one person from dying then it is worth it to me," said Parks. 

Brandon Parks is currently enjoying his sobriety, and working to stay in recovery so he can be the best parent and role model for his children.