Brian Cuban has made a career out of turning his weaknesses into strengths.
Though most people are probably more familiar with the successes of his brother Mark, who owns the Dallas Mavericks, Brian’s career is impressive in a whole different kind of way. Initially, Brian had served as a successful lawyer specializing in First Amendment rights. However, after being at the mercy of both drug addiction and Body Dysmorphic Disorder for a large part of his life, Cuban not only overcame his negative impulses but also turned his recovery into an opportunity to help others.
By opening up and learning to “recover out loud”, Brian Cuban has since become one of the key voices in the field of addiction recovery and male body dysmorphia. You can read about a lot of these experiences in his 2013 memoir Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder, which told the story of his battle with eating disorders, depression and addiction that began when he was a bullied preteen in Pittsburgh, PA. However, Cuban’s career is not limited to just talking about recovery and addiction.
He continues to use his legal expertise as an advocate of medical marijuana. In addition, he is the host of “Brian Cuban’s Legal Briefs” on syndicated morning show EyeOpener TV. He also supports the Fallen Patriot Fund as Executive Director of the Mark Cuban Foundation and his legal opinions on the Penn State sex abuse scandal are also frequently cited.
Recently, we got in contact with Brian to ask him a few questions about his past and where he’s headed next.
At what point in your life did you realize that was your body dysmorphia was negatively effecting you?
I did not really understand body dysmorphia until I was in recovery but it began negatively affecting me as early as my late teens when I developed an eating disorder (bulimia).
I’ve heard you talk about your struggle with both BDD and drug addiction. Do you recognize as both an addiction sufferer and as a person with BDD? Or was the drug use just a byproduct of the body dysmorphia?
The addiction was in large part a byproduct of BDD. I recognize myself both as in recovery from BDD and a person in long term addition recovery.
Addiction can carry a lot of stigma, but did you feel like there was a particular stigma attached to being a man with an eating disorder?
Absolutely. I was intensely ashamed. In my mind eating disorders were something that happened only to females. I felt totally alone.
You often mention that you are a lawyer by education, and that you only went to law school because you felt like you had become “safe” with the way you handled body dysmorphia at Penn St. and wanted to continue that in a similar environment. Do you have any future ambitions with you ability to practice law?
I was very happy and relieved to leave the practice of law. It was never something I felt passionate about. In many ways it played into my substance use issues from an environmental triggering standpoint. I have learned to never say never but the only way I envision re-visting the law from a practice standpoint is if it is related to eating disorder or substance recovery.
Your father instilled the importance of being there for your brothers at an early age. I know Mark and Jeff played a big role in your life pre- and post-recovery. What sort of relationship do you have with them now?
We have a solid, loving relationship. We don’t see each other as much as we sometimes like due to families scheduling etc, but I suspect that is not something unique to our relationship as far as families go.
What was your “bottom” and how did it convince you to seek recovery?
Standing in the parking lot of Green Oaks Psychiatric Facility in Dallas, my second trip there after a drug and alcohol induced blackout. I realized that I was close to losing my family and would ultimately lose my life. I also realized for the first time that I could not do it alone.
Your first book, Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder, was put together more or less from blog posts that you wrote. Since AddictionUnscripted.com is essentially a platform for anyone whose been affected by addiction to post their story, can you tell us what your initial motivation was for posting these excerpts?
My motivation was similar to many that write self-help memories. To help heal myself. I am a big believer in expressive writing as a self-help mode of therapy.
Was it or is it still hard for you to share your often painful experiences with addiction and body dysmorphia?
Not really because instinctively, I felt like it was helping me heal. The more I shared the more I remembered about things that I had long buried. While I understand that it may not be comfortable for everyone, recovering out loud has been very helpful to me.
You have been casted as an advocate of medical marijuana. How did medical marijuana initially play a role in your recovery process?
It didn’t. I experimented as a teen and partook to some extent at different times, but weed has never been a true part of my life. I am simply a believer that it can help many who are suffering with certain types of physical problems. I’ve seen it work.
What are some of the most rewarding experiences you have had in your career post-recovery?
Teens, young adults and older adults emailing me, calling me and coming up to me after I speak, letting me know that I empowered them to seek help or help someone they know who is suffering.
While body dysmorphia occurs in two percent of the population, equally amongst gender population. Why do less men seek treatment for this? What would you suggest or tell a male who is reading this now and is struggling with body dysmorphia, but thinks it’s not a “real man’s” problem?
Like eating disorders BDD is stereotyped as as female problem. My message to men who are suffering is that you are not alone. There are many out there who will support you when you’re ready to ask for it. Don’t get wrapped around being “cured” In terms with what we go through its a word without meaning. Let’s talk about recovery. That may mean something different to you than to me but in the end we all want to embrace and enjoy life in a productive, non-self destructive way. Let’s shoot for that. That is how I define recovery.
What does the next 12 months look like for Brian Cuban?
I will continue speaking at events and colleges and advocating for eating disorder and addiction recovery awareness. I am also currently working on my next book. It is entitled The Addicted Lawyer: Tales Of The Bar, Booze, Blow And Redemption. I post excerpts on my blog at www.briancuban.com and on my Facebook page,