Brian Cuban Brings His Recovery Story to UM

Event to focus on issues of addiction and recovery, help highlight assistance available locally

Brian Cuban

Brian Cuban

OXFORD, Miss. – Ten years ago, Brian Cuban decided to end his life with a .45-caliber pistol he kept in his nightstand.

He’d been battling issues related to body dismorphic disorder, a kind of mental illness in which someone can’t stop thinking about a flaw, generally either minor or imagined. He also struggled with eating disorders and substance abuse.

But before he could commit suicide, his brothers, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Jeff Cuban, intervened and saved his life. That night, Brian Cuban decided to enter treatment to end his more than 25-year battle with his demons.

“Even in your loneliest moments, there is always someone willing to help you,” Cuban said. “No one can force you to take that first step but you, so don’t wait as long as I did.”

The attorney and author is the guest speaker at the Fourth Annual Collegiate Recovery Community’s Fall Speaker Event, set for 6:30 p.m. Friday (Nov. 13) in the Overby Center auditorium at the University of Mississippi. Free and open to the public, the event will be followed by a reception and book-signing.

Cuban became obsessed with the size of his stomach when he was growing up. He had been teased about it in school and became so focused on it that he descended into BDD and eating disorders. He began to use alcohol and drugs to cope with depression, feelings of inadequacy and shame.

“No matter how thin or muscular I was, I just saw this huge stomach in the mirror,” Cuban said. “That was how I transitioned into body dismorphic disorder.”

During his recovery period, Cuban began writing “Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dismorphic Disorder” (Net Minds Corp, 2013). Since its publication, he’s been speaking to groups to inspire those who may need help with an addiction or other issues. He said he wasted decades as he battled his problems until he was 44 years old.

“That first step is always a leap of faith, but there are people who can help you and there are people who love you,” Cuban said. “I think it is important to reach out to college students and let them know there is recovery. You can deal with this. You just have to get help.”

UM’s Collegiate Recovery Community and Office of Health Promotion work together to provide awareness about recovery and also offer support to those who are navigating campus life while being sober. The Office of Health Promotion aims to help the college culture embrace these individuals, provide opportunities for them and partner with them to break the stigma surrounding recovery, said Erin Cromeans, assistant director for health promotion.

“We are grateful to have Brian Cuban here to tell his story of addiction and recovery, and provide a foundation and platform for which we can build upon in providing support for those in recovery at Ole Miss,” Cromeans said. “This is just the beginning for us and our journey with these students.” 

Emma Gaines, a senior biology major from Olive Branch, came to UM as freshman in 2008 but quickly found herself battling drug and alcohol addiction. She dropped out of college and began working at a restaurant. She lost her job for a brief period. She was evicted from her home in April 2014. The night she got evicted was the last time she drank.

She’s back at Ole Miss finishing her degree as an active participant in the Collegiate Recovery Community.

“The fear is what stopped me for quite a while, but I would just want someone to know that there is help out there and it is available,” Gaines said. “Don’t let the fear overpower you because it overpowered me for so long. Rip it off like a Band-Aid. It gets so much better.”

Charles McCrory, a senior English major from Florence, also battled drug and alcohol addiction throughout his teen years. He sought inpatient addiction treatment after his freshman year at Ole Miss in 2012 and is another active member of the Collegiate Recovery Community.

“I thought I was in this conflict between school and recovery and that they were mutually exclusive,” McCrory said. “I thought I was cheating my recovery by going back to school. Participating in CRC made me realize those two things can go together and there are resources for students who are sober. I didn’t have to put my education on hold in order to be in recovery.”

The university’s CRC and The Oxford Centre, an addiction treatment provider, teamed up to make Cuban’s appearance possible. The talk happens in conjunction with The Oxford Centre’s 2015 alumni reunion, which happens Saturday (Nov. 14) at the center’s scenic, 110-acre residential campus in rural Lafayette County between Oxford and New Albany.

It offers a full range of treatment plans, including specialized programs for young adults ages 18-25. Its CEO is UM alumnus Billy Young, who said he appreciates Cuban bringing issues of addiction to light.

“Speakers like Brian Cuban help bring addiction out of the shadows and into public conversation,” Young said. “The more we can increase people’s awareness and understanding of addiction, the more we can equip them to support others who need help or who are in recovery.”