iBerkshires.com  reports when Ed Sutton celebrated his 17th birthday in lockup, he knew something had to change. Like many addicts it took him several more years and realizations, and another stint behind bars to finally make that change permanent with help from the Brien Center.
At Thursday night's annual Brien Center/UNICO dinner at Berkshire Hills Country Club, he got to tell his story.
"I've used and abused substances for as long as I can remember. I went to my first detox when I was 16 years old. I turned 17 years old in a locked unit for people with mental health and substance abuse issues," he said. "It seemed everyone around me knew I had a problem except for me."
The Keenan House is an addiction treatment house in Pittsfield run by the Brien Center. It was there that Sutton learned to deal with his addiction and its underlying causes through outpatient therapy and a 12-step program. What Sutton didn't know was that he was also training for his future career.
"After graduating Keenan House ... I bumped into one of the staff members in November 2009 and I told him I wanted to get off Social Security. I wanted to get back to work. He suggested that I apply at Keenan House. I asked him if he was crazy," Sutton joked. "He said, 'what's the worst that can happen? They can say no.' I applied and I was hired."
Sutton recognizes how his life has come full circle and he is now giving back to those who gave to him.
Sutton is only one of thousands of lives touched by the Brien Center every year. The agency provide services to more than 11,000 people a month throughout the county.
President and Chief Executive Officer M. Christine Macbeth has been with the Brien Center for almost as long as Sutton and put its mission in very simple terms.
"We think Berkshire County is a better place for everybody if people are emotionally healthy.
Both Macbeth and Sutton have a staunch ally in their fight against addiction in the Achievement Award recipient of the evening Robin McGraw.