Vic Vela is intimately familiar with demons. He’s spent much of his life wrestling with depression and addiction. He sabotaged himself for years with drugs, alcohol and other self-destructive behavior. He once begged for mercy when confronted by an angry, gun-wielding drug dealer.
In what amounted to the battle of his life, Vela also knows about the difficult process of recovery, about clawing back from the darkest of depths.
Vela, a journalist for Colorado Public Radio, sums up his new podcast, “Back From Broken,” in three main themes. “People share stories of their incredible comebacks – it’s about honesty, perseverance and hope.”
‘A lot out there’
On “Back From Broken,” Vela interviews guests who have likewise battled demons – and lived to share their stories. “We cover the gamut – drug addiction, alcoholism, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, gambling addiction … anything that causes suffering. There’s a lot out there.”
‘If this helps one person get clean, gets one person to start talking to a therapist, then the show is totally worth all the work.’
– Vic Vela
In 2017, more Coloradans died from drug overdoses than any previous year.
“Back From Broken” debuts Friday (Feb. 21) with an interview with musician Anders Osborne, who will talk about his recovery from booze and drugs. In other episodes, Vela will talk with people who’ve lived on the streets, run from the police, tried to commit suicide, alienated themselves from friends and family, overdosed and, ultimately, overcome other dark times of their lives.
He said the podcast is for people who are fighting their own mental health and substance-abuse issues or want help in understanding the struggles of a friend or family member.
‘Tired of seeing my friends die’
“I was motivated to do the podcast because I’m tired of seeing my friends die,” said Vela, who recently celebrated his fifth anniversary of being clean and sober. He understands the loneliness and isolation experienced by addicts. “With this show I want to give people some hope. You can hear someone tell their story of how they were down and got back up, and hope it helps motivate people to reach out for help.
“That would be a huge thing,” he said. “If this helps one person get clean, gets one person to start talking to a therapist, then the show is totally worth all the work.”
The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, which in many ways is making a transformative impact on mental and behavioral health, is one of the sponsors of “Back From Broken.” It will be available on Apple, Google, NPR and other podcast platforms.
Vela said it’s easy to beat yourself up and retreat from help when battling addiction. He said second chances always exist and that every person’s time will come. “Never give up; there’s always a way out,” he said. “Unless you’re in the ground, it’s never too late to start over.”