PODCASTS

Utah actor and producer discusses addiction recovery

Jul 21, 2020, 1:37 PM | Updated: 2:54 pm
recovery...
Casey Scott and Dr. Matt are joined by Michael Birkeland (actor and producer, known for Phobic [2020], The Singles Ward [2002], and Everything You Want [2005]) to talk about his experience working in the film industry and his work with LDS comedies. We also dive into his experience with using cocaine to stay focused in the 90s and how abusing drugs caused him to spiral into addiction.
(actor and producer, known for Phobic [2020], The Singles Ward [2002], and Everything You Want [2005])

SALT LAKE CITY — Thirteen years have passed since Utah actor and producer Michael Birkeland hit his “rock bottom” and now he’s using his past to help others start their own road to recovery.

He recently joined the Project Recovery podcast to tell his story of substance abuse and how he was able to curb his addiction.

From actor to addict

Birkeland, known for Phobic [2020], The Singles Ward [2002] and Everything You Want [2005], has an interesting relationship with comedy. While he is predominantly known in the LDS comedy world, his use of laughter and joy was often masking a tumultuous past. 

“I completely hid behind comedy. I could not turn it off because I thought if I turn it off … They’ll see all of my imperfections if I’m not funny,” Birkeland said.

Birkeland realized that his portrayal of himself to those around him required him to be funny all of the time. His drive to constantly be “on” slowly began to deteriorate his mental health. In his mind, people had expectations of him that he had to meet, but he just needed someone to talk to.

“I didn’t want to be funny all the time anymore,” he said. “I realized no one cared. They only wanted the funny Michael B.” 

Cocaine abuse

Constantly battling with himself ultimately led Birkeland to begin abusing cocaine to always have the energy to please everyone. His drug use got so out of control that he started to rely on the illegal substance every day. Instead of talking to someone about his issues, he was destroying every aspect of his life — until it all came crumbling down.

On the morning of June 1, 2007, Birkeland woke up looking up at a blue sky. He was naked in a field with his car running next to him completely confused about how he got there in the first place. After partying all night, Birkeland had passed out and realized he had missed his son’s birthday.

After pulling himself together, he knew he had to make a change. He vowed to get help and begin his road to recovery. Looking back, Birkeland realizes how fortunate he was to hit rock bottom and be able to pull out of his addiction.

“I was really fortunate. It had affected me so strongly. Something about missing my son’s birthday, it really bothered me,” he said.

Road to recovery

Birkeland found help through two separate treatment facilities, one in Utah. With the help of medical professionals, he began to learn the benefits of EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) treatment, which is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. 

“Seven years ago, I couldn’t see today. I couldn’t see myself being a father again … being happy,” Birkeland said. “The second you turn that next corner, there’s something else. It’s not over. It’s not done. There is hope.”

Listen to the podcast to learn more about substance abuse awareness and recovery

For more information on addiction or if you or someone you know is struggling, you can find more information on Facebook, KSL TV, or from Use Only as Directed. To hear more from Casey Scott and Dr. Matt Woolley, you can listen below or subscribe to the ‘Project Recovery’ podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get major podcasts.

Today’s Top Stories

Podcasts

second job inflation...
Heather Kelly

Many are getting second (and even a third) job to keep up with inflation

More people are getting a second job, said Bankrate.com, because inflation has them dipping into their discretionary funds.
13 days ago
Utah homes are recording high levels of radon gas. 
Photo credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News...
Heather Kelly

Utah homes at risk of having dangerous levels of radon gas

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for people who are non-smoking. Utah homes are recording high levels.
2 months ago
A customer pumps gas at an Exxon gas station, Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Miami. U.S consumers have s...
Curt Gresseth

UVU commencement speaker tells her story of rising from high school dropout to bank president

Mary Daly shares her story of rising from high school dropout through the nudging encouragement of her mentor to become president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
2 months ago
Toxic relationships...
Curt Gresseth

Expert shares advice on leaving a toxic relationship

A BYU psychologist shared his advice on identifying a toxic relationship and best practices for how to avoid one and how to leave one.
2 months ago
Maria Shilaos ana Taun Beddes learn to grow vegetables with Mat Jentzsch...
Carlos Artiles Fortun

KSL Greenhouse: How to grow vegetables in containers

Maria Shilaos and Taun Beddes visit Mathew Jentzsch to learn how to grow vegetables in containers for easy, convenient growing.
2 months ago
Lack of Russian oil supply greatly effects Utah along with rest of Country...
Curt Gresseth

Will Biden’s plan to tap national reserve lower gas prices?

An industry insider says it's good President Biden wants to encourage oil and natural gas production, but isn't sure what it'll do for gas prices.
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Tax Harassment...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Joseph Smith Memorial Building...
Temple Square

The Joseph Smith Memorial Building is an icon of Salt Lake City | Why hosting an event at this beautiful location will make you a hero this year

Here's why hosting an event at the iconic Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City will make you a hero this year.
Utah actor and producer discusses addiction recovery