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Ourside of the street

My name is Justin a I AM A RECOVERED DRUG ADDICT! October 23, 2014 is my sobriety date. I truly believed for someone like me there was no hope in living a happy life. I wanted to die and thought my life wasn’t even worth living. I was 21 years old homeless and had nothing left. Growing up I was a 3 sport athlete and never thought this could happen to me. My life was in shambles and something had to be done. I finally admitted I had a problem and couldn’t do it on my own. Once I took the action to reach out and get the help I needed my life began to change. I came down to Florida to attend an impatient treatment center. I came a scared little boy with no idea how to live life. There I was introduced to AA and the 12 steps and people who are still in my life today. I recently celebrated 4 years sober and it’s something I never even dreamed of. If I can do it anybody can do it! If your struggling reach out I promise it will be the best decision you ever make!

Sharing hope

After 11yrs battling with H.and anything else I came across, I'm finally sober, I overdosed, did things I'm never going to be ok with, lost my brother, my best friend, and it was never enough, if anything I went deeper into my addiction, I thankfully have family who refused to give up on me, when I gave up on myself. It wasn't easy, and some days still isnt, but it gets easier... and life gets better, I'm seeing in color again, the darkness is slipping further away, and life is blooming... I see my kids, I remember things!, I have meaningful relationships, hope my story gives someone hope, hold on, try.. it's worth it. You're not alone

From nothing to something

I am a recovered addict, and at once was an all around scumbag named pat. See, drug addiction and alcoholism was something that when I look back was inevitable for me. Father an addict, mother a co dependent suffering from severe depression. I grew up in the city of Philadelphia, and from a young age really didn't have any direction. I mean, I can't sit here and blame anyone for my actions or the direction my life went at all. Chaos was just the normal for me. Thing is, I had dreams, and visions of how I wanted my life to be when I got older, however my actions made the outcomes completely different. The decisions I made, sent me through 17 years of hell, 17 years of addiction, state prison, homelessness and complete chaos. Not knowing what work was, or structure; the streets became my best friend. I pushed everyone and everything out of my life if it didn't involve me getting high, or making money. See, I was a drug addict addicted to not only the drug, but money and nice things. For a long time, I hoped my appearance would fool people into thinking I was doing a lot better then I really was. Did it matter who I hurt? No, not at all. How could I care what I did to anyone else if I didn't even care what I did to myself? The question for almost 10 years was, when will I actually be able to stop, when will I finally live a good life? When the end of my battle with heroin, alcohol and crack came to an end, I thought it was going to end in death and that the good life I always dreamed of, would never happen. Well, thank God I didn't die before I had the chance to live! See, i kept hearing about 12 steps, and was in and out of 12 step fellowships, but I never worked the 12 steps. Just kinda that person hanging in the back of meetings, unsure if he even belonged or hoping to catch a victim to come get high with me. I mean, hell what could 12 steps do for someone like me right? Well, I'll get to what they did. After coming home from a lengthy state prison sentence and still going right back to the same old things, in a very short period of time, I completely destroyed my entire life again. Parole didn't mean anything, the fact my fathered passed away while I was in prison didn't mean nothing to me, the sleepless nights my mother had wondering if she would get the call I was dead meant absolutely nothing to me. All that mattered, I was free for the first time in years, and not wearing pennsylvanias state browns anymore and all I wanted to do was party. Well, the party lasted for 2 more years, before I couldn't go on! I'll never forget looking in my mothers eyes saying to her, "mom, I don't think their is anything out there for me." With them words, my mom new what I meant. Well, them words actually became the words that saved my life! That night, I got on a plane and flew out of Philadelphia to Florida to try and start over, and he best advice I was given was, "don't try just do." Well, that's exactly what I did. On May 6th, 2015 I began a journey that has given me the life I always wanted, and so much more. A life that, every morning I wake up I look forward to the day and don't dread it. On that day, I began the first day of the rest of my life! I walked into a 12 step fellowship, and did what I never did before, I actually worked the 12 steps. Well, call me crazy but that was 2 years ago. I mean, I couldn't stay sober for 2 minutes when I was in the streets, I couldn't stay out of jail and prison. And now, for the last 2 years, I have been blessed way beyond what I ever deserved! Today, I get to work in the field of drug and alcohol treatment, I get to help men and women find the way of life I have. I am furthering my eduation in the drug and alcohol field, as well as work altruistically to help men and women outside of work in the rooms of the fellowship I found my recovery in. Today, I don't have everything in the world, but I wake up and have peace and serenity and gratitude wash over me every morning.

Misdiagnosed

LIFE LOST IN SENSELESS TRAGEDY HEREBy Frank Thomas Croisdale

Benjamin John Oliphant loved music. He found joy in many genres, but was drawn to rap and dance-club music in particular. In that respect, he was just like many teenagers.

In two others ways, he was not. One was that he was a skilled DJ -- especially in the art of old-school record "scratching." It was like Ben stepped out of a Beck record onto the streets of Niagara Falls. Give him "two turntables and a microphone," and a gathering was suddenly a full-blown hip grooving party. All the cool cats and kitties knew that if Ben was laying down the beats, the dance floor was the only place to be.

The other way that Ben was different was that he was autistic. Ben was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. 

This is what the KenCrest Organization of Delaware has to say about Asperger's and the difficulties that people who have it face in dealing with day-to-day living:

"Asperger's Syndrome is the mildest and highest-functioning end of the Autism Spectrum. Individuals with Asperger's Syndrome experience problems in social interaction and often have restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities.

"These difficulties may include eye contact, facial expressions and social gestures; poor peer relationships; lack of spontaneous sharing with others; lack of social or emotional give-and-take; preoccupation with certain interests and subjects; inflexible routines or rituals; repetitive movements."

Ben's family believes that a combination of these two differences led to a decline into drug use that cut Ben's life short last year.

On Oct. 19, 2010, Ben was found dead in an apartment on Ashland Avenue in an area known for drug-dealing. The official ruling was that a lethal cocktail of morphine and cocaine ended Ben's life, but his mother believes that the coroner's report might just as easily have read "Died by falling through the cracks."

Maribeth Oliphant still tears up at the memory of her loving son.

"This may sound bitter to you; I wrote it back in 2005, and it details the early years of Ben's life," Maribeth told me as she handing me a paper entitled "Ben's Diagnosis."

The paper talks in vivid detail about Ben's birth, early childhood, and years of misdiagnosis by the teachers and specialists in his school district.

After being misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Dyslexia and being an underachiever, Ben was finally characterized as having issues that were "attitudinal."

Thankfully, Dr. Prado at the Monsignor Carr Clinic examined Ben and made a very quick and accurate diagnosis of Asperger's.

"I cried a river that night," Maribeth said. "After all of the years of them saying Ben was slow, when he actually tested out two grades ahead of his peers, of them trying to put the blame for his poor grades back on him, it was like a huge weight had been lifted."

By that time, Ben so hated the experience of school he wanted to drop out. It was recommended that he attend Niagara Academy on Saunders Settlement Road in Sanborn. The school is operated by Orleans Niagara BOCES and is designed to provide a "caring and supportive environment that enhances the academic, social, emotional and vocational skills of our students."

"Even though the size of the school scared him a bit, it was a place where he was accepted, and it was a place where he could feel like he was home," Maribeth said.

Ben graduated from Niagara Academy and tried to get into Niagara County Community College, but the experience of the entrance exams was overwhelming.

"There just isn't help for these kids as they transition into adulthood. Ben knew technology, computers and sound like he knew the back of his hand, but when he went in (to the entrance exams) he was so overwhelmed by the new environment that he froze up," Maribeth explained.

Ben took a job at Smokin' Joe's for a time, but soon found himself entwined in a drug culture that links the rural areas and suburbs of Niagara County with the mean streets of Niagara Falls.

"He was taking prescription meds, opiates, ones he was buying on the streets -- Oxycontin and Oxycodone. He was trying to fit in, and drugs helped take away the anxiety he felt," said Maribeth.

It's a dirty little secret that there are a number of people who live in what is considered the "safe" part of Niagara County -- the "white" suburbs and countryside -- who routinely sell their addictive prescription pain medication to drug dealers, who in turn sell the drugs on the streets of Niagara Falls.

Ben fell in with two middle-aged women doing just that as they were trying to keep their Sanborn home from going into foreclosure. Ben did lawn work for the women in return for payment in prescription medication. One of the women would pick Ben up in the middle of the night, drive him to Niagara Falls, and drop him off to sell the drugs from the shadows of alleyways that have seen far too much heartache and early death.

Eventually, prescription meds gave way to cocaine and heroin. Ben's behavior changed, and his mother became alarmed.

She said, "It was like that scene in 'Panic in Needle Park,' where the woman is sitting there almost as if asleep, with her eyes rolled back up in her head. Ben actually looked like that, and it scared me to my core."

After a couple of near misses with drug overdoses, Ben finally took a hit that his body couldn't handle. He'd found out in the last year of his life that he suffered from an enlarged heart, and the drug speedball that he took that fateful evening was too much to overcome.

The details of his final hours are not clearly known and may never be fully understood. What Maribeth does know is that her son was staying in the home of a known drug dealer and had been to her house that afternoon while she was at work. When he arrived at her home, he had a number of drugs and prescriptions with him, including intravenous morphine with a street value of $2,000.

Maribeth's oldest son, Tom, recognized that his brother was high and had a number of illegal drugs in his possession, and threw him out of the house. That decision is a heavy burden he still carries.

"I told him, you can't do that to yourself. If it wasn't that night, it would have been another. We all loved Ben and did what we thought were the best things to do in each moment," Maribeth detailed.

When Ben couldn't be found that night, his father went looking and found Ben's car abandoned on a city street. There was vomit all over the inside of the car. When he knocked on the door of the apartment where Ben was staying, a man answered and responded to the question of if he knew of the young man's whereabouts with words that will forever haunt the Oliphant family: "He dead, man. He dead."

Maribeth Oliphant may never know just what happened the night her son died. The police investigated, but ultimately no criminal charges were filed. What she does know is that there is nothing she can do with the past, save mourning it, but she can impact the future.

Maribeth has partnered with Niagara Academy to establish the Benjamin John Oliphant Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship will benefit kids graduating from the school and help with their transition into secondary education and adulthood. It will also serve to aid in drug-prevention education and to raise awareness of autism and the needs of those afflicted.

The world lost a kind, trusting and talented soul when Ben ascended to the heavens. His demise is a cautionary tale about the need for proper early diagnosis and placement for kids with autism and other developmental disorders, and also illustrates the evil influence of drugs here.

Ben loved music, and his mother hopes that the scholarship created in his honor will help other young adults with autism find the harmony that so sadly eluded him during his brief time on earth.

To make a contribution to the Benjamin John Oliphant Memorial Scholarship, please mail your check or money order to: Benjamin John Oliphant Memorial Scholarship, c/o Niagara Academy, 3181 Saunders Settlement Road, Sanborn, N.Y. 14132.

RIP Autumn

Autmn Nicole Spicer passed away at age 30 to heroin overdose. She was a Daughter, Sister, Aunt,  and girlfriend. she will forever be missed but never forgotten.

Brian Mitchell Mendell's Story

Brian Mitchell Mendell

Born: 1985

Died: 2011

Shatterproof (Interview)

Tell us about Brian: Like many of you reading this, you have children that light up your life. Brian was that for me. He began talking at an early age, and for the next twenty five years he never stopped. Brian loved the outdoors. Whether with his friends or his brother Greg, he would play in the woods for hours, fishing and searching for frogs.

As Brian entered elementary school, his struggles began to emerge. I watched him struggle with so many things we all take for granted; holding a crayon, and simply keeping his balance. When he began middle school he had a hard time paying attention and he began to struggle academically and socially; he felt as if he didn’t fit in. He was originally diagnosed with ADD, however over time this diagnosis included anxiety, depression and traits of Asperger’s.

Brian’s curiosity was endless. We would end our evenings talking endlessly. He would want to know about everything; my favorite memories growing up, how I liked my career, how the people in the Dominican seemed so happy with so little material things.

It is impossible to describe Brian without mentioning his smile. He had the ear to ear to smile that was his trademark.

However, the character trait of Brian of which I am most proud was his compassion for others. I have spoken publicly about his crawling under a fence at Yankee stadium when he was eight to give a homeless man a quarter. His favorite memory of high school was taking a trip to the Dominican Republic on spring break to play with children who had so little. After Brian’s death, his sober coach wrote “After Brian and I had lunch together he gave money to homeless people on the street.” Another friend wrote “his big bright smile, easy approachable demeanor and kind eyes are things that come to mind when I think about Brian. It's a lovely memory.”

Tell us about Brian's struggle with addiction: Brian and several of his friends tried marijuana for the first time at age thirteen. While his friends had varying degrees of interest, for Brian it was different. Maybe the marijuana eased his anxiety. Or perhaps it was genetic. Whatever the reason or combination of reasons, Brian quickly became addicted, and is often the case, over time he became addicted to more dangerous drugs.

Brian was sent to a wilderness program when he was seventeen. Throughout these years, when Brian was not relapsing, he was often reflective. He responded to what he read of Taoist philosophy in a note to me, “’Emotion which is suffering ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it.’ It’s similar to what I’m working on.”

Brian was also deeply pained by what he was putting his family through. In one letter to my mother he wrote, “Dear Grandma Kitty, I don’t know what to say about this anymore. I feel horrible that I keep putting everyone through this. Thanks for sticking with me and I’m sorry. Love and miss you, Brian.” Brian’s relapses were many. After his last relapse Brian told me, “Dad, even when I think I have this under control, I have now learned that this disease is doing push-ups inside and getting stronger and stronger.”

After his last treatment program, Brian succeeded and was able to stay clean for thirteen months. However five weeks after his one year anniversary he tragically took his life. In his loving and compassionate note to our family, he condemned the treatment system for its lack of integrity. And although he did not state it explicitly, I believe he also felt enormous shame and guilt that tore him apart inside. It seems like yesterday we were sitting on the bench in our back yard when he told me, “Dad, three hundred years ago they burned women on stakes in Salem, Massachusetts because they thought they were witches. Someday society will recognize that I have a disease, and I am trying my hardest".

What made Brian smile?: More than anything Brian loved “family time” and seeing everyone happy. He also had an amazing sense of humor, and loved making us all laugh.

What do you miss most about Brian: What I miss most is the emotional connection we shared. We were soul mates. As Brian once wrote in a letter from a wilderness program, “Dad, underneath we are twins; I see it out here a lot - Mom and Dad – I don’t think I’ve ever missed you more or realized how much you do for me and I want you to know I know all your decisions are out of love. Love, Brian. “ I miss Brian every minute of every day.

Brian lost his fight as he took his own life on October 20. 2011 due to the disease and struggle of addiction. Brian's memory will live on through our stories of experience, strength and hope! To those who have lost the battle with addiction - Gary has chosen to be a voice for the many lives lost and those who struggle today. Make sure to check out the webpage at www.shatterproof.org


From The Bullpen To The Grave

I was born and raised in Campbell, Ohio. "Soup City" is on the east side of Youngstown. Campbell is known for the city of churches and bars. When I was in High school, Youngstown was the murder capital of the USA two times. I learned my survival of the fittest mindset at a very young age. I learned how to exploit peoples weaknesses and devour them to get whatever I wanted. I worked on the front lines of satans rebellion for years. I was a master manipulator. I had no patience to wait for anything. If i wanted something I would do whatever I needed to do to get it immediately.

My first addiction was baseball. I had dreams of being a major league baseball player since I could remember. I used baseball as a way to relieve stress and get away from life when it was bothering me. I started lying at a young age and getting into neighborhood trouble so I was grounded ALOT! Since I was grounded so much I used the neighbors garage to work on my throwing, infield and tee work daily. I practiced so much that by the end of the summer there was no paint left on the garage lol jk (addictive personality??? lol) In 2000 I accepted a scholarship to Kent State University. In 2003 I got drafted by the Montreal Expos (Washington Nationals) and played 6 seasons of minor league baseball.

I came close to capturing my dream. I blew out my UCL in my 3rd year of pro ball and had tommy john surgery. My identity was in baseball and when I lost baseball in 2009 I lost everything.

Anyway, my second addiction was alcohol. I occasionally smoked weed but didn't like weed cause it made me paranoid. Alcohol made me feel invisible. I had my first drink when I was 11. I was raised Roman Catholic so I was an alter boy and I would slam the communion wine in the sanctuary when no one was around. I snuck beers at family events and anywhere there was alcohol. I knew I had a drinking problem at 14 when I drank a whole bottle of ouzo and had to be hospitalized cause I had alcohol poison. I was proud to be an alcoholic as sick as that sounds. I started binge drinking a few days a week during my high school career. I believe i was even drinking the night before I started the state semi championship game my junior year. I pitched the game of my life and was offered scholarship to Ohio State because of it. So being praised and honored for my talents in baseball I grew to have a "god complex". I turned my back on God when I left for Kent State and only prayed to him when I had to close a game and the bases were loaded with no outs. 

My first week in college I got busted for possession of marijuana and almost lost my scholarship. I drank daily and used cocaine whenever it was given to me. People would feed me drugs an alcohol because they thought I was on my way to stardom. I was constantly getting away with all the trouble I got into or with minor consequences and because of that it made me feel invincible and it really fed my disease. My motto through college and pro ball was "party like a rock star, play like an all-star and "f**K" like a porn star". Them 3 statements were all I cared about that was my life and I loved it. I have been all over the USA to play baseball. Baseball gave me money, cars, jewelry, women, alcohol-drugs.... Baseball was my God. 

I never used opiates until I had Tommy John surgery. When that narcotic hit me I had my first whole body orgasm. I fell in love and became a slave to the pills. I played for another 3 years after surgery staying high off of pain pills, alcohol and cocaine. I was scheduled to go to Perth, Australia for winter ball and a few weeks prior to leaving my daughters Mom showed me a positive pregnancy test. I retired from baseball in full blown alcoholism and opiate addiction with the bright idea I was ready to start a family. I tried everything to replace the high i would get from closing a game with thousands of people packed in a stadium chanting my name! Never found it until I felt the Holy Spirit for the first time. So anyway, I cleaned up with her during her pregnancy and did get not high again until a few days after my daughter was born. I started back up because I was still a little boy who was afraid to man up and take care of the family I had. Drugs and alcohol robbed not only me but 3 other lives of what could have been wonderful if I was sober. The pain I brought into these lives is embarrassing. if I ever hurt anyone who is reading this please accept my deepest apologies and know that I am not that same evil man today.

The opiate addiction started right back up from where it left off. This lasted almost 2 years. We broke up and I moved back to Youngstown and someone told me it would be cheaper to start using heroin so I did. Heroin now was my god and i would do anything to get it. Crack cocaine was also present at this time. I boosted,cheated and manipulated everyone to get it once I finally lost everything. In Dec 20 of 2012 there was nothing left of Gus. I lost my family, baseball and almost my life. I cut my own copper pipes out of my house to get heroin. I had overdosed 5 times and during one od I stop breathing for almost a minute. Death was looming over me, I was ready and willing to die, I didn't care. I was mad at God and didn't want anything to do with him. 
On January 23, 2013 I decided I was done and quit cold turkey. I was getting picked up and being brought to Akron to join a program to get my life back. On January 26th, I was on my way to Akron and I fell asleep in the car. In my dream I was picked up by something huge and shaken out, I woke up to my friend and now brother in Christ (Jim Reinsel) grabbing my arm cause I had opened the door and was trying to jump out in my sleep. He was driving 70-80mph on route 76 if he didn't grab me I would have been DEAD! I believe that's the day Jesus delivered me. He forcefully came into my life like a hurricane and rid my spirit of Satan. Whatever I was possessed by tried one last time to kill me in that car ride to Akron. I tried everything then I finally decided to give God a try after Jim and i talked a few days later....WOW! I tried recovering myself but not until I full surrendered to God did I get success. God requires me to work my butt off to stay clean but i know as long as i stay focused on Christ i will be ok. These last 17 months have been a roller coaster ride but i wouldn't change a thing. My recovery has become the most important thing in my life because without it I'm no good to God or anyone else. If I go back out again I am positive I will die and my daughter will have to tell people her dad died of a heroin overdose.....not happening. 

JESUS CHRIST IS MY EVERYTHING. I HAVE DEVOTED MY LIFE TO TRYING TO LIVE IN HIS WILL. GOD HAS BLESSED ME WITH A BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER AND THE ABILITY TO SHARE MY TESTIMONY WITH THE STILL SICK AND SUFFERING TO SHOW THEM JESUS IS THE WAY. I HAVE DEVOTED MY LIFE TO SHARING THE GOSPEL. IF GOD IS FOR US WHO CAN BE AGAINST US? IF YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT MY SAVOIR PLEASE MESSAGE ME AND I WILL BE GLAD TO SHOW YOU HOW TO ACCEPT JESUS INTO YOUR HEART! AND I WOULD BE HONORED TO WALK WITH YOU IN YOUR OWN PERSONAL RECOVERY IN CHRIST! WITH CHRIST BEING MY ANCHOR IN MY RECOVERY HE HAS BLESSED ME WITH A GREAT SOBER SUPPORT FAMILY. I ALSO THANK HIM FOR ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS AND THE HEROIN ANONYMOUS PROGRAM HERE IN AKRON, OHIO.

I Hope my story can help you! If I can do this so can you.......My new motto in life is....."from the bullpen....to the grave...to a life in Christ!"

I love you all and God Bless!


Born A Miracle And Died A Hero

Stephin was born on October 26, 1990 to his mother Christina. Stephin weighed one pound an 10 ounces at birth- He was mommy's little miracle- Stephin was "Born A Miracle and Died A Hero."

Stephin Wayne Bergeron was taken from earth April 13, 2011 by former friends, according to his Mother Christina Sargent Bergeron.

Stephin was walking when the former friends appeared and slayed the twenty year-old. Christina said she thinks the only reason they had was he asked them to stop selling drugs.

“My son did nothing but ask them to not give drugs to people,” said Christina. “[They] murdered my son and the price they pay will never be enough – Not for me.”

Stephin was born October 26, 1990 and weighed one pound ten ounces when he was born. Christina said he was “God’s little miracle.” His passing has been tasking, according to his mother.

“I’m so tired. I cry every day missing every little thing my son did and said… I pray god helps me to forgive them because it eats at my very soul. It breaks me down every day that I don’t get to have him in my life.”

Stephin wanted to do many things, Christina said. He desperately wanted to be a father; already picking out the name Lane Braxton Bergeron had he had a boy. He was in college, attempting to acquire his Instrumentation license, and he was very active, playing multiple sports.

Christina said Stephin was more than her son, calling him her best friend. She said he was “a small fellow with a huge heart,” and admired the way he would do anything for anyone.

Stephin loved riding horses and bulls, going mud riding with his friends, and having big bonfires, his mother said. She called him a Chriistian boy who was saved not once, but twice. He was very close with his little brother and sister and loved taking care of people when they were sick, according to his mother.

“When I got sick with my heart he stayed by my side. He would even sleep in a recliner in my chair at night to make sure I was ok and he’d fix me the best big glass of hot tea every night if I had a migraine,” said Christina.

Stephin wore his heart on his sleeve according to Christina. She said he was always singing:

“When he was about 12 he dedicated a song to me by Lil Bow Wow called “for my momma.” He said one day I’d never have to work again or struggle like I had raising my kids because he would take care of me. He never left even if we were mad or upset with each other without kissing my cheek and saying I love you mom. And most days he’d squeeze me really tight and sing the words loving you because you’re so beautiful to me.”

Christina wrote the following at the end of her note.

“He had goals and a future that were taken away from him. When he was little he would make things on holidays with his Lil brother and sister and we would go to the retirement homes and pass out things to the elderly to let them know that they may not know us from Adam but they were not forgotten on any holiday that their lives meant something. We even dressed up for Halloween one year and went to visit with them and took pictures. Stephin Wayne Bergeron is my son. Stephin Wayne Bergeron is a angel and a hero. I will never let the world forget him or who he was while here on this earth. He is loved and missed by so many and will be forever. A hero taken too soon from this earth by evil cowards. Stephin Wayne Bergeron 10/26/90-04/13/11. Mommy misses you bud more than anything in this world.”

Stephin may be gone but NEVER forgotten!

24/7

Twenty four hours a day,seven days a week I felt lonely,scared,and left behind. My mother was an angry,thoughtless,selfish drunk that reminded me daily that I was just in the way of her life. Growing up was something i had to do before my time..I found myself giving myself away to strangers at a young age just to FEEL loved. As i grew older I found alchol and drugs were the answer, so i thought...My addiction took me places you only see in movies....inthe beginning it was just dancing, then escorting, playing with power cocaine for over 15 years. Still a lost little girl looking for love in all the wrong places i met my new love CRACK. This took me somewhere i never thought was possible. I walked the streets selling myself for over ten years. I was raped..stabbed,shot,kidnapped, robbed, pistol whiped,REPEATEDLY for many years over and over and still never wanted to quit..I  have lost three children,my sanity,my peace,. I have been to prison two times, and had thirtyseven arrests due to my thirst for the streets and the drug that made the pain go away. Iwas lost still working 24/7 for my next high and found heroin to be my new love very quickly..This nightmare was never gonna end.....I got pregnant with my forth child and was blessed to catch another charge and be locked up till i delivered..once being released i went right back to what i only knew and was swallowed up and spit out for the last time. I took my son and went to rehab . A womens and children program after going threw detox.....Today I have almost three yrs clean and sober. I am a certified Recovery Coach helping others find a new way of life by sharing my experence strenth and hope daily. Im currently in school to be a substance abuse councler,and have done many interviews for our local news station caring the message of hope. I have graduated from richmond adult drug court,and enjoy loving on my son malachi everyday....Today i work 24/7 loving myself and others   .Today i know what holidays are,birthdays are,and what family is truly about  I never realy knew what it was like to sit down as a family and have a meal..Today i sit with my husband and son every night to eat a meal and talk about our day....I say i worked 24/7 to get high and run from life, Today iwork 24/7 to be a good wife and a good mother, sharing my story so that for those who think they are alone, or are embaressed,,I have walked in your shoes.  It is possible, you can do it, you are worth it !!! tnks for letting me share some of my story,,,my clean date is 3/20/12.   24/7

Family Betrayal

My son Christopher died of a heroin overdose on October 27, 2012. After he died his best friend told me they would go over to my sisters house and at 10 years old she would buy alcohol for them.My nephew and his wife introduced Christopher to marijuana and he returned home higher than a kite one night. Another friends father allowed the boys to smoke marijuana because he believed letting them do that at his house was a safer environment. My sisters boyfriend introduced my son Christopher to the world of big bucks drug dealing.Taught him how to buy and sell it to others. I begged and I pleaded with family and friends to not do these things with my only child. Christopher was in recovery, and doing quite well... clean for 9 months. One night a family member dropped him off at a known location where drugs and alcohol would be prevalent. The family member drove away. Christopher drank which was unusual for him, and then proceeded to want a shot of heroin. Obviously he found one. He died that morning, was found on their bathroom floor. The first picture was at his wedding August 30,2009 with me. The second picture was taken at a baby shower two months before he died. The third picture is of a daughter he never got to hold. His wife was 4 and 1/2 months pregnant when Christopher was found dead. The last picture is of his daughter who turned 3 today. She was 11 months when her daddy was found dead. So if I sound like I blame everybody but myself... I don't.
I made plenty of mistakes as a mom. In my house we preached abstinence though. I am now the Visionary Leader for a NON PROFIT ORGANIZATION called RAISING HEROIN AWARENESS. Our mission is to be educational and informative on the progression, or lack there of, in every state in the UNITED STATES concerning this dreadful drug HEROIN. My name is Gail Strobehn-Simmons and I am from Oregon City, OR.

The Last Lethal Dose - Shea Angelica Abbott Fricke

A Delhi couple who allegedly sold the heroin that led to an overdose death will face involuntary manslaughter charges.

It will be the first case in Hamilton County in which an alleged drug dealer faces charges involving an overdose death, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters said in a release.

Shea Fricke, 21, died June 26 at her Delhi home after purchasing heroin from Stephanie and Christopher Eaglin, also of Delhi, an investigation revealed. The Hamilton County Coroner determined her death was a result of a heroin overdose.

The Eaglins each face one count of involuntary manslaughter stemming from Fricke's death, Deters announced Monday. They are also charged with one count each of trafficking in heroin, possession of heroin and possession of drugs. Those charges resulted from a search warrant of the Eaglins' residence on Aug. 28, from which police recovered heroin and pills.

If the Eaglins are convicted of all charges, they could each face 12 years in prison.

Deters said he has been working with Attorney General Mike DeWine to change the law surrounding how drug dealers are charged.

"The law needs to be strengthened to allow us to charge these kinds of cases as murder," he said in a statement. "If the law is changed, drug dealers would then be facing the possibility of life in prison for selling the drugs that take too many lives."

Ohio House Bill 508, which was introduced in April, deals with increasing criminal punishments for drug dealers.

Under the bill, the charges against a dealer who sells drugs leading to an overdose death of a minor could be increased from involuntary manslaughter to aggravated murder. The maximum sentence for involuntary manslaughter is 11 years in prison. The maximum sentence for aggravated murder under that circumstance would be life without parole, according to the Ohio House of Representative's website.

The bill would also increase charges against a dealer who sold to an adult who died in an overdose to murder, which carries a penalty of 15 years to life in prison.

"To get a handle on the heroin epidemic. you really have to look at traffickers and have harsher punishments in order to deter this kind of behavior," said Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, who introduced the bill.

"When they deal heroin, they know it's going to destroy somebody's life ... That's why I think it is appropriate that they're charged with murder when that happens."

Lawmakers in Kentucky are also working to impose harsher punishments for drug dealers.

Kentucky Senate Bill 5, which failed to pass in the General Assembly in April, would have allowed prosecutors to charge high-volume drug traffickers with homicide if the person died of an overdose.

Many were outraged by the bill's failure. Jason Merrick, president of Northern Kentucky People Advocating Recovery, told The Enquirer in April his organization isn't giving up.

"We were expecting more action and responsibility from our elected officials," Merrick said. "We will now begin a campaign asking – begging – Governor Beshear to declare a state of emergency.

"Too many lives are at stake. Something must be done."

Grateful

Hi my name is JOE and I am a grateful recovering addict.I began using Narcotics at a very early age,10-11,when I took to the streets in search of something more than what my family was giving me.I come from a great family with values and I am the oldest child and only male.So I was handed everything like a prince but it still wasn't enough...i Became a gangbanger at 12 and began my first prison sentence at 17. I became a parent at 18 aswell....I traveled the U.S. in search of Freedom yet all I did was travel with my addiction and my I don't care attitude....Fast foward to my second prison sentence where I spent 7 lonely years on the West Coast and thats when I knew I needed a change.I came back to NY when I heard my grandson,my first grandchild,was about to become 1 years old. Soon after I found the rooms of NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS. I walked into a meeting and didn't like it so I left.Walked into another meeting in the same area where I was raised as a child and I have not looked back since. I have been clean since March 18,2010 and I am coming up on 5 years Clean!!!! Thanks to my HP,The Oldtimers,My Sponsor and my network I have maintained my Cleandate.I got married in this process of Recovery and my children are all back in my life.I am forever grateful to the members before me who held the doors open for an ex-gangbanger to find a new way to live. To be able to follow a format to find out WHO I AM so I can best offer myself to my family.Thankyou to all for alowing me to share my ES and Hope

Just One Time

Please share your photos, videos, stories or messages with me and my family. . . I was a great kid, smart, sexy, powerful, I believed I could do anything. . . Unfortunately, my life was ended the first time I tried a designer variant of what I thought was acid/LSD (25I NBOMe). My family misses me terribly, cuz I was so great and funny. . . if you knew me I probably made you laugh and you felt like we were friends. . . and for my part we were. Everyone misses me, it wasn't worth it. . . please don't make your family have to miss you.

Montana died when he tried what he mistakenly thought was acid/LSD for the very first time with his two brothers and another kid, however what he was told was acid was really a research chemical called 25I NBOMe. . . he died and the three others had to be hospitalized as well. . . I created this community page to get the word out that doing these things KILL. You can live in the best neighborhood, send your kids to the best schools, have a big house, take fabulous vacations, your kids may be "A" students, athletes, and cheerleaders. . . it's not always the addict that dies from drug use. . . It was a curious, seemingly invincible, strong, charismatic, good looking, fun, loving, happy child. . . and if I can save other people's children through raising awareness and celebrating his life I am bound and determined to make his death mean something. . . Please share our story
I thought I was going to try acid/lsd for the very first time. What I got from a friend wasn't acid at all. . . It was 25I NBOME. . . It sent me into convulsions and almost killed my friend and 2 brothers as well. 25I is a synthetic research chemical that is passed off to many unsuspecting kids as LSD, bath salts, Molly/ectasy. Delivery methods can be droplets, blotter paper, tablets, powders or candy. Think of it as a psychedelic hallucigen combined with methamphetamine. I died 3 minutes before the first responders arrived. So I won't be getting my driver's license this year or going to prom. I won't be earning a letterman jacket for football, wrestling, swim or track. All I can tell you is that it just takes one time. . . My family and friends miss me dearly. I was smart, obviously good looking, popular and thought I could get away with just about anything. . . My parents warned me all the time about the dangers of drugs. . . I just thought it couldn't happen to me. I hope you make a better choice than me and just stay away from anything you might be trying to get high off of, because it just isn't worth it! #RIPMONTANABROWN #bansynthetics
Montana gave our family and his friends incredible joy. He died the first time he tried a synthetic drug. The purpose of this page is to create awareness.
Loved and missed by his dad, mom and brothers.

'with vigilance'

I am so grateful to find this site-what wonderful miracle stories! I understand today that my story-all of the insanity-can help someone else. I felt alone and different in early recovery. It took me numerous treatment centers, consequences and near death to surrender.I understand today (and I am coming up on 23 years!) that I was preserved to carry a message. What I thought was so different is not so different. My heart hurt and I wanted to hide even at meetings when people would talk about having a family-getting family back-having a key to the very parents house they robbed back in the day.. blah blah. I thought I was doing something wrong again. After lots of work, service work, volunteering, graduating college and carrying the message all over the place-I was preserved to give hope to the throw away's-the 'orphans' the neglected! I am not bad-and I am not broken. I have risen above all the mean, drunk, addicted, mentally ill biological family-they screamed at me for the 1st 10 years of sobriety. When I had enough-I walked-and I grew. All those people are now dead or the walking dead. I have spiritual family-not biological. It was my  wonderful sponsor who told me  to work this thing 'with vigilance'. It was my friends and some professors that encouraged me to pen my story- I self published it last May-have a look on smashwords,com .I was on the speaker panel this Fall in Traverse City at the annual round up -and guess what the topic was?? The Family Afterward'!! I can laugh today-am so grateful-have peace. Some of the walking dead still try and screw with me-I let them go (or block them!). Thanks for being here..in love and service-christine campbell

Rehab - A Safe Haven?

CINCINNATI (Deb Dixon) -- Parents of children addicted to drugs know what it's like to be afraid of the phone call that their child has died from an overdose. When the parents of Steven Fisher got that call, it started a death investigation into a local treatment facility. What his family and police found inside was shocking. "I have to see him lying on the floor, something I'll never forget," said Theresa Gray, Steven Fisher's mother. On the floor dead, the needle, the spoon used to cook the deadly dose of heroin nearby. Steven Fisher's parents couldn't calculate how that could happen to the happy little boy who loved family and was the popular high school athlete. Good grades got him into college; Fisher was back building houses with his dad. They don't know when he started using.       Steven died in June, a month after his release from a men's lock down treatment facility, Talbert House's CCC in Warren County. Steven's father, Tom Fisher, said, "We begged him to go to this program, 'Please go, it's what you need.'" Clermont County Judge Victor Haddad thought so too. Steven was out on bond for an attempted burglary but failing drug tests. The judge hoped six months in CCC could change his life. "You find out insecurities and difficulties CCC meant to restore that person. So when they get out they have options less drug addiction," said Judge Haddad. Goshen Township's Sgt. Ron Robinson turned to Steven's phone, looking for the dealer who sold him the fatal dose. The phone showed him more of what was going on at CCC than rehab. Text messages to Steven from two counselors were suggestive. One asked if he had gotten laid yet. Steven responded he didn’t have time because he was taking care of things. There was a back and forth about getting together and text messages that clearly indicated sexual conversations and not ways to stay off heroin. Robinson said the counselors denied having sex with inmates but did say other workers were having sex with inmates in a closet.       After Steven got out, a man who was still locked up texted Steven a photo of breasts and asked him to guess whose they were. Two counselors did admit they were in on the sale of chewing tobacco kept in hiding places, such as the refrigerator. According to Robinson they bought it for Steven and another inmate to sell, and the counselors got part of the profit. Then there was the Xanax Steven told his mother he got inside to help him sleep. That was not part of the rehab program Local 12 was told. About the same time Steven overdosed Clermont County probation was hearing some of the same things from other inmates who got out of CCC. The judge said the Talbert House facility was now more transparent. Changes have been made in security and training.       Talbert house gave a statement saying, "Our sympathies go out to the Fisher family for their heartbreaking loss. When issues of possible staff misconduct came to our attention we took immediate action. Staff involved are no longer employed by Talbert House." The attorney for the Fisher family told Local 12 he was considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit or medical malpractice claim. Follow Deborah Dixon on Twitter @crimestopperdeb and LIKE her on Facebook for more updates.

Read More at: http://www.local12.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/bad-rehab-overdose-death-leads-rehab-questions-21012.shtml

Missing My Best Friend

I lost my friend Fraser in September of 2002. I had tried for several years to get him sober. His death was the final event that put me on the path of my life’s work. Both Rutgers and myself have written about it.

Students who live in Rutgers Recovery Housing, a sober living on-campus residence, are well on their way to recovery from drug or alcohol addictions. But one of the most challenging moments a recovering addict can face is when a friend from the past overdoses.

When this happens, students can turn to Frank Greenagel, a clinical social worker and recovery counselor at theRutgers recovery houses in New Brunswick and Newark. Greenagel knows on a personal level what it feels like to lose a friend to addiction.

In 2002, one of Greenagel’s closest friends, Fraser, died at 27 of an overdose of alcohol and crack cocaine, ending an intermittent period of sobriety with tragic consequences. Greenagel and Fraser had been friends since their sophomore year at Voorhees High School, a location Greenagel recently returned to, along with current Recovery House students, to teach about the perils of addiction.

“I liked Fraser immediately because he was very bright, had a great sense of humor, was a terrific story teller and was always involved in chaos. But by the time we were seniors, his addiction problem was very evident,” recalls Greenagel.

The downward spiral continued with Fraser failing out of the University of Pennsylvania and getting arrested for drug possession multiple times. Greenagel tried to assist with recovery, even letting him live in his undergraduate apartment at Rutgers. Fraser would be clean, and then relapse. Finally, the call came that he had died, and that loss changed the trajectory of Greenagel’s life, convincing him to become a social worker. He applied to the Rutgers School of Social Work MSW program three days before the deadline.

“When I think about why I do what I do, he is at the top of the list. I still cry about him sometimes,' Greenagel says. “There is picture of him in each of my offices.”

Now Greenagel, who was appointed to the Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse and named chair of the New Jersey Heroin and Other Opiates Task Force in 2012, uses that experience to help students.

Mike's Story

Mike’s Story
My son Mike was born August 29, 1990. What an amazing kid he was. I chose to only have one child deciding early on that I would dedicate my life as a mother and help to create an outstanding human being. I am an only child myself so this seemed like the way to go. This was my number one career path. Despite getting divorced early in Mike’s life and growing up in a house dominated by only a strong woman he excelled at whatever he choose to do. With an outgoing personality, charm and good looks, for Mike life seemed easy. Gifted with both an English and math brain, excelling in sports and an unusual gift to write music he was going to make his mark in this world. But there was one little thing that I noticed early on in my son and that was his lack of confidence in himself. He was his own worst enemy.

Mike began dabbling in the marijuana and alcohol scene. This started to quickly spiral out of control after Mike was arrested for possession and was court ordered to get drug testing. Mike was born fearless and began trying whatever he could get his hands on. Cocaine, ecstasy, and spice were some of his favorites. He would take whatever he could as long as he could test clean. His behavior was rapidly changing, the old friends were disappearing and the new were squatting in my home as if I didn’t even live there. For lack of attendance Mike was told he could no longer attend public school and was going to be graduating from a local alternative school. I started to not even know who my own child was. After graduating, during one of Mike’s violent destructive acts I decided I had enough and threw him out. I could no longer tolerate the verbal abuse and lies that became part of his lifestyle. This became our new normal. He would straighten up and I would take him back. Our life was a living yoyo. On one of the final times that Mike was “making it on his own,” as he would say, a dog attacked him and the tip of his ring finger was bitten off. He was prescribed Vicodin and so our story of opiate addiction begins.

He had rapid weight loss and withdrawal from family and friends, Mike had become a passing stranger in the night. Our relationship began ripping apart and crying became a daily routine for me. Both of us were now feeding off of each other’s addiction. Mike was addicted to opiates/heroin and I was addicted to Mike. I was going to make him better. After three times in rehab, four overdoses, and a few days on life support from the fifth overdose where his lifeless body was found behind a dumpster where he was left by his so-called friends, Mike suffered a brain injury that impaired his short term memory. He had an arrest record that could cover the walls of the White House, bailed cars out of impound on three different occasions, 6 months in Cook county jail, four days downstate to be assigned his lifetime parole number, a week in DuPage county jail, a week in Winnebago county jail, a few days in Lake county jail, the list goes on. After abandoning the purchase of my home and then moving two more times to get Mike away from that crowd, we had conquered our addiction. Our life was back on track. I was finally starting to sleep at night. Mike had reunited with his long time love, Taylor, and actually talked about becoming an addiction counselor to help others. He said, “Mom, I know what they are going through and I can help them.” He made amends with family and friends, who he had hurt during the past few years, started his full time job and together we were living the dream.

The day of September 1, 2012 started like most for us. Mike had stayed at my dad’s house where he was the king of the castle. I called him in the morning and said, “Hey, how about a day with your mom” which he laughed at and said, “Of course.” We spent the day at my dad’s house talking, laughing, shooting pool and playing with our dog. Heading into the evening I asked Mike to go to dinner which he declined saying he was just going to chill with papa. So we hugged, kissed, said, “I love you” and we would see each other tomorrow. At 9:00 pm I was heading back home. At midnight my phone was blowing up. When I answered, my dad who I could barely understand because of my stepmom’s screams in the background said, “Terri he did it again.” Half asleep and partly in shock, I said, “He did what? Overdose?” I was furious. Not only had we worked so hard but now in the home of the grandparents’ most kids would pay for, I calmly said “I am on my way,” and out the door I went.

When I arrived at the hospital I went looking for my step mom. I was unable to find her so the front desk guided me to the family waiting room. It was strange to me because I knew that was only where the really bad cases go.

As I stepped into that room my step mom was barely able to catch her breath and said, “it’s really bad.”

“No, its not,” I replied, “we have been thru this before, ill go to his room talk to him and all will be fine.”

When I got to Mike’s room it was the typical major overdose scene. A breathing machine, beeping monitors, tubes and wires and hanging bags were everywhere like something out of a horror movie. I rubbed his head and told him I was there and it was going to be fine, we all make mistakes. I sat with him for a while, waiting and waiting. I kept telling him to open his eyes just like he did last time. As a courtesy to some and a support system for myself I made a few calls. Within hours there had to be 50 people at that hospital wandering the halls living off of coffee waiting on the kid who excelled at everything to wake up. Later that afternoon a doctor approached Mike’s father and I. He said, “We need to talk.” The only thing I remember is his badge that indicated he was a neurologist. He put us in front of a monitor and said, “This is what your brain looks like.” He pointed to the screen next to the normal brain and said, “This is Mike’s brain.” Not being a doctor, I was not sure what he was getting at and then the words came from his mouth. “Your son is brain dead he will never open his eyes again.”

Mike has suffered a massive stroke and there was no chance of recovery. Standing in a frozen moment he asked, “What would you like to do? He can stay on the ventilator for as long as you choose, however his organs are starting to fail.” Since Mike had always chosen DNR (do not resuscitate), I didn’t need time to figure my answer out. We were all in the room when the nurse pulled his father and I into the hall and said with a tremor in her voice that Mike’s organs were quickly failing and because Mike had a DNR she thought we should not wait any longer.  She said, “If you choose not to act now, the heartbreak of watching Mike suffer would be an unimaginable experience that would haunt you for life.”

Surrounded by family and friends Mike’s life support was unhooked. The room became dead silent. There were no more beeping and swishing noises, just silence. I lay in bed with Mike with my hand over his heart. His father was on the other side with his hand over mine. I talked to Mike and told him, “It’s okay, I am not mad at you. I’ll be OK.” I reminded him that he was a “lifer.” He always told me he that would never leave me but I understood his time here was finished. He had made his mark. It seemed like hours had passed when in fact it was merely minutes. Just as I had brought him into this world, I felt his heart beat for the last time and he was gone. I lay my head across Mike’s chest and literally felt the life of my son, my hero, my life, leave his body.

Mike died on September 2, 2012 only five days after his 22nd birthday. I promised Mike I would never give up and that is why I am sharing our journey. This birthday and every year after this will include no celebration. I will never be a grandmother. I will never have a daughter-in-law. I will never see my child achieve his dreams. I will never hear him make music again or hear the words he once wrote; “I have chosen to sacrifice my life for my mom.” Mike was, is, and always will be the wind beneath my wings.

One of his favorite sayings was “Mom, don’t worry, I got this.” I have since had that inked on my index finger so that daily, in his memory, I can look to heaven and whisper, “Now, Mike, I got this.”

 I have chosen to stand up and fight for all of you now. Whether you are fighting the addiction or you are trying to love someone within an addiction, you are no longer alone. I volunteer my time with the community, local law enforcement and talking to others on our Facebook page, Remembering Michael Anthony Bartlett. I will be watching and learning as Chelsea continues to make changes across our nation. I will talk until no one listens.
The Love of a Mother
Terri Brewer-Bartlett

If you’d like to reach out to Terri Bartlett, please email her at terri@live4lali.org.

My Beloved Son

About my beloved son, Brent~
Brent suffered from childhood onset Schizophrenia and Major Depression most of his life. He began taking medication at age 9 for depression and started hearing voices a couple of years later and was started on antipyschotic medication. Despite his illness, he was a very loving and intelligent child and had it not been for his illness, I believe he could have done great things. He was in and out of psychiatric hospitals and on many different medications. He hated the hospitals and his medications and it was extremely difficult to get him to maintain compliance. Despite all of this, Brent had many wonderful times in his life as well. As he got older, his illness became worse and I watched it taking his life from him even while he was still alive on earth. Brent died by suicide on December 18, 2009, while visiting his sister, Erica and I for the holidays at our home in Mississippi. He had just turned 20 years old on November 4th. It was and will always be the single worst day of my life.

Brent, if I could hear your voice today, this is what I believe you would say to me~

” Mom, it’s going to get better. I’m ok now and I am right here with you always! I want you to be my voice now and a voice for all of those suffering with mental illness. And I want you to reach out to others that have been so deeply affected by the devastation of a loved one’s suicide. You can do it Mom. You are the strongest and most beautiful person I have ever known in my life and I am so proud of you. God and I are watching over you always and sending angels to minister to you. Don’t give up…ever. Don’t stop taking your medications like I did. I am so sorry that I hurt you…I didn’t mean to…it was my illness. I love you forever and you will see me again in Heaven and it will seem as though we were never apart.
Love, Brent.”
P.S. I am very happy here in Heaven and God is more awesome than you could ever imagine and He loves you dearly, Mom…always remember this when you think of me. — with Samantha Hart Tripp.
Help Others Stuck in Grief
Day 249

You may feel so weak and needy that it seems impossible you would have anything to give. But there are people around you who need your help. Don’t withhold that word of encouragement, that phone call, that friendly note. There is a place for your ministry too.

“Everyone is wounded,” says Rev. Noel Castellanos, “and one of the incredible things about the Christian life is that God can take wounded people and turn them into givers and ministers in spite of the woundedness.

“I think one of the tragedies I’ve seen is when people focus so much on their own hurt that they can never look outside of themselves to see how they can use their hurt to minister to somebody else.”

Think of someone today who could use an encouraging word. Call or send a card to that person.

“He will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

Great God, may I think of others first and stop focusing on myself. Amen.

There is no other way for us to make sense of losing our children other than God must have a very special purpose for us and our children and I think our rewards will be great in Heaven as I also believe our children are experiencing such beauty and peace that they never knew on earth and many rewards for all their suffering. God chose Mary to be the Mother of Jesus because He knew that she was strong and special…we also, as Angel Moms must be regarded in very high esteem by God to be given such a task. We were chosen for this for some very important purpose. It is not something I would have ever willingly agreed to…but I am beginning to contemplate more and more the meaning for all of us. Perhaps, this will sound strange to a lot of Angel Moms…but it is really something to thing about from a different perspective… I just know that our loving Father is faithful to us in all things.
Grace, peace, love, and healing for all~Samantha Hart Tripp (Brent Michael Tripp’s Mom)
Reply   
Samantha Hart Tripp says:   
September 22, 2011 at 10:14 pm   

The Scars of Addiction

My name is Corey Phinney and I’m the founder of The S.A.F.E. project and where about creating hope, awareness, and change surrounding the drug epidemic that we’re facing in the United States. I hold Addiction Awareness Rally’s, Celebration of Recovery. Walks and Candlelight Vigils to promote addiction awareness. I am an Author who raises money through the sales of my books to be able to hold these events and help others! I motivationally speak across the United States while gathering groups together to help me volunteer for different organizations “when you give you get”! I have a few Facebook fan pages, so check them out!  A little about me, I am not an addict and never have been, doesn’t mean I don’t understand addiction, I have taken so many losses to this awful epidemic and it would be a loss of a close friend that would actually open my eyes towards what’s going on, before my friends passing, so many of us tried helping him and he was actually doing good, really good, he got a job, everything in life was finally working for him, it would be the deaths of two cousins that would trigger a relapse. Before his passing he told me he didn’t want to live, he was so sad and beside himself that he just loss two of the closest relatives in his life, the three of them were inseparable, one passed a week before Thanksgiving, the next one passed before Christmas and then my friend passed near Halloween and exactly a week before his Birthday.  The three of them are buried together and as I started my foundation in Memory of my friend, it’s so much more now! But I do thank him every day for setting this foundation so I could not only help addicts into recovery but toward helping all sorts of people from all walks of life, I learn more from these people more then they will ever know!  I will continue to inspire people and my reward in all of this is to see the results of people changing his or her life! For more information on me visit my blog.
~ CoReY phinney

In memory of Bob "Bubba" Glatfelter

My son Bob lost his battle with heroin addiction on April 23, 2014.  He was 10 days out of rehab and living in a recovery hosue in Levittown, PA.  He fought this disease for many years, but his love for the drug won.  I am sharing a eulogy I wrote for my son's service.  Since his death I have made it my mission to stand up and be vocal to sperad awareness of heroin and addiction.  I have received approval to begin a chapter of a non-profit organization called Not One More - York Chapter.  Please visit our Facebook page and also my son's memory page -  In Memory of Bob "Bubba" Glatfelter.  My full story is posted there also.  God bless all those who are struggling with this disease, who have lost their lives, and to those who have been able to recover.  

TO MY SON:

Where does a mother begin when she has to write a eulogy for her child? Does she start at the beginning on the day the doctor told her she was pregnant? Does she tell you about how it felt the first time she felt that little being move inside her tummy? Does she tell you what a long drawn out labor it was and how when she looked at that tiny little bundle for the first time she thought her heart was going to burst from all the love she felt?

I’m not sure where to begin. Surely I could go on and on and tell you all the first-time moments that we shared as he was growing up, learning to sit up, walk, talk, first tooth, etc., etc. I could tell you all about his first day at school and all the other days in between, both good and bad, because Lord only knows, my son did not like school. I could share with you how proud he made me when I watched him plays sports – basketball, baseball and football. What an athlete he was.

Maybe you would like to hear the stories about how he struggled to graduate from high school, and when he finally did, it was one of the proudest and happiest moments of his and my life. I cried like a baby.

We could move forward to when he went out on his own to start his own adult life. And he started studying to be an electrician and I was so proud of him. And lest I forget the time he told me I was going to be a grandma. What a joyous occasion, one that not only changed his life but mine too.

While I realize this is a celebration of life, and I certainly do celebrate all of these momentous occasions in my son’s short life, I cannot help but reflect on the sadness I feel today. As a parent you always think of growing old, watching your children grow up, marry, have children of their own, and live their lives to the fullest. Never do you ever imagine you will out live your children. But sadly, it happens. Why? No one really knows but God. He is the higher power and he is the one with the master plan.

I would be remiss if I did not share some of my personal feelings surrounding my son’s death. As most of you are aware my son was an addict. He had an addiction that plagued him for several of his last years here on this earth. He battled the demons every day for a very long time. We went through a lot of hills and valleys that most of you will never experience, and I pray to God you never have to.

Addiction is an awful disease. It’s one that most people don’t understand unless you are an addict or you live with an addict and witness the destruction it causes. Addiction turned my sweet little boy so full of life and energy into a man that I didn’t recognize anymore. It could turn him into one of the meanest, uncaring individuals you ever wanted to meet. That was not my baby. It would drain all the energy and caring from his soul and turn him into a complete empty shell. It was like the devil himself taking over.

I stood by my son through thick and thin trying to help him battle this monster. Even when everyone else practiced the “tough love” that we all hear about, I couldn’t give in. We went through rehabs, recovery houses, long talks, long arguments, and a whole lot of tears.

Then this last time we were facing the crisis mode again, I finally put my foot down and said no more. This was his last chance to get better or I wasn’t going to be there anymore. I wasn’t going to pick the pieces up and dust him off. He was on his own. He had to fix himself, because this was something I couldn’t do. So off he went to another rehab to detox and hopefully find the way out this time. I went to visit him in rehab and I truly felt there was something different this time when I saw him. It was a peacefulness that I didn’t have before when he was in these situations. He opened up to me so much and shared things I didn’t realize about him and his addiction. He told me he knew what he had to do this time. He knew what it took because he had been down this road so many times before. He wanted it really bad this time. He wanted to be a better father. He wanted to make me proud of him. Little did he know that as a mother no matter what the circumstances were in his life I was always proud and I loved him so very much.

He completed rehab and moved on to a halfway house. He didn’t want to return home this time. He wanted to go away where he wouldn’t be influenced by those distractions here that he turned to every time he relapsed. I was proud of him for standing up and trying. Maybe this was going to be the time. I wasn’t giving up.

Then that dreadful night came when the policeman came to our house to deliver the awful news that our son had passed away of an overdose. What? What did he say? Not my child! No way. I just saw him. I just talked to him yesterday. He was doing so good. How can this be? Then for the next punch his phone rings to tell us, no, he has been revived and he is in critical condition in the ICU in a hospital two hours away.

I cried, I screamed, I didn’t believe it was true. But we gathered ourselves up and made one of the longest journeys of my life. When we arrived and I got to see my son, I knew instantly he was gone. Oh the machines were keeping him alive, but he wasn’t there. It was only his body I was looking at. I knew in my heart, as any mother would know, my baby boy had moved on to another life. But I was there when he took his first breath and I was there when his heart took its last beat. The demon took control once again, and this time my son lost the battle.

There is nothing that can come close to explaining the depth of losing a child. How do you explain losing part of your heart, mind, soul and breath? How do you explain losing part of your today, yesterday and your tomorrow? How do you explain losing love that was connected to your soul? How do you explain losing such intense feelings for another that you’d gladly trade your life so that your child could live? There are no words to adequately explain child loss.

But my dear son, even though I am grieving, I am also celebrating your life. I celebrate the precious years I was able to have you here with me on earth. I am celebrating the fact that you are free of the demons that have plagued you for so long. I celebrate the fact that your are in heaven with the Lord and are whole once again. No more pain. No more worries.

For those of you suffering from addiction, please let this be a wake up call. Take this terrible tragedy that happened to our family and learn from it. Let my son’s death be a reason for you to find strength to make yourself whole again by fighting and never giving up. Every day is a struggle in the addiction world, but it is not a struggle you cannot overcome. Stand strong and fight.

Life is a gift, accept it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is a mystery, unfold it. Life is a puzzle, solve it. Life can be a struggle, face it. Life is beauty, praise it. Life is an opportunity, take it. Life should be your mission, fulfill it.

To you my son, I love you and will cherish you for the rest of my life. Until I see you again with your twinkling eyes and crooked little grin, fly free with the angels and watch over us.

I love you.

In Loving Memory of Amber Leigh Thompson

PLEASE VISIT AMBER'S MEMORIAL SITE:
In Loving Memory of Amber Leigh Thompson
May 16, 1981 - December 14, 2001
" A special thank you to The Compassionate Friends, where I met Maria and Kaye. Without them, this website would not have been created."
Created on May 1, 2003

Finally Home - I am Not Anonymous

RANDY

My name is Randy and I am a person in recovery. What that means to me is that I have a life, and people who support me as I live without having to use substances. I can plan, I have goals and dreams, I work hard and get to see many of my dreams come true. Before recovery it was the exact opposite. I couldn’t plan, I couldn’t hold a job, I couldn’t complete my education, I couldn’t do anything except for relapse. I didn’t want to use substances but I didn’t have any way to stop.

My story started out just like many others around me. My friends and I would have a few drinks when we could sneak some liquor from one of our parent’s. In early adolescence, when I was trying to figure out things like how to kiss girls, drinking made me feel more comfortable. It became apparent that drinking or using something was a priority for me especially when socializing.

During that same period in my life, in what seemed like a blink of the eye, things quickly went wrong. My father lost his job, there were serious financial issues, we lost our home and my parents split up. Just to add more chaos, my aunt, who was dealing with a mysterious illness, was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS from injection drug use.

I was already using substances to find comfort and feel like I fit in. I am sure there was a way to cope with all of the things happening around me but when I was faced with increased family instability and uncertainty, my reaction was to use more. I found myself around adults, who knew how to sell drugs so they could continue their habit. I quickly picked up on the technique and found a way to perpetuate myself to continual use. In all the chaos of my family life, this actually seemed like a way to gain independence. I could provide myself with the means to escape whenever I wanted and for however long I needed. Looking back at it, I was only entrenching dependence and vulnerability that would stay with me throughout my life.

I made many attempts at recovery but they all failed miserably. I had periods of abstinence and made progress in my life but I always carried the hindrance of substance use with me. Ultimately, I reached a point where I became completely non-functional. It was in this state of misery that I was told I’m going to be a father. “Poor kid” I thought to myself, to be born with a father like me. While I had resigned myself to my condition, I was going to try one last time to straighten out… I wanted to be a father to the little girl that was on her way.

There were long lines for treatment. They told me to call every couple of days to try and get into rehab. I would relapse and lose my place on the waiting list. Finally, a clinician told me I should go to the emergency room and say I was suicidal to get placed immediately. It sounded insane to think that anyone would have to do that to get treatment. Another relapse and I took the suggestion. I admitted myself to the ER as suicidal (even though I wasn’t) and I was placed in a drug rehab.

In drug rehab I felt like every moment of my life was controlled and scrutinized. It seemed like everyone was put on medication and I know I was given medications that I didn’t need or want – when they caused anxiety and despair as bad as the drugs I was trying to get off of, I left. I would go to four rehabs in total with similar experiences in addition to half a dozen outpatient programs.

I finally found a simple group that met once a week. I felt like I could actually breathe there. I could talk about the stuff going on in my life and get support and insight from people who wanted to help me and had gone through the same thing. I gained some traction. I was present in my daughter’s life. I completed my college degree and I even started a career of my own choosing.

My life started to come together and my daughter, who I had seen so seldom, was now coming to live with me. I went from being an estranged father to being a full-time dad and a pretty good one at that. I had a lot to be grateful for and I didn’t want to jeopardize it.

Recovery gave me the ability to deal with issues that I had never been able to face but had affected me profoundly. Early childhood sexual experiences, which were emotionally painful to recount, were finally processed enabling me to accept and heal. Acceptance allowed me to cope and gain self-confidence enough to understand that I don’t have to live with feelings of worthlessness and fear which had contributed to so many of my poor decisions.

Today, I am able to enjoy the many beautiful things in my life. I would not want anyone to go through my experiences but I am glad that I have them as they have made me into the person I am today. As it turns out, that little girl has a good life filled with healthy experiences and people who lover her including her dad…and you know what, so do I.

Tracy/D.A.M.

On July 20, 2010 my life, my families lives changed forever. We were awoke by a knock at our door by 2 officers telling us Aaron was gone.....he had passed from a heroin OD. I will never be able to get that day, those cries and screams out of my head. On that day my life as I once knew it ended. I was helpless to help his brothers because I could not help myself in my grief. I can even put into words the type of person Aaron was or the type of person he was to so many. All I can say he was an angel on earth to us. Not without troubles but a soul who shimed wherever he went. For the first 2 years after Aaron passed I was an empty shell. His brothers are the reason that I even "stayed" because going with him was clearly on my mind many days. In August 2012 I started a facebook page called Hope vs Heroin in his memory. It was "my therapy" because conventional therapy wasnt working for me. Through Hope I was able to meet so many just like me. It helped me to see I was not alone. It allowed me to reach out to other addicts to let them know they were loved and even in not ever meeting them to let them know I loved them. You see this is who Aaron was.....he was the one to always be there to help. He was the one who could be so mad at a person one minute and then have their back the next. he was the one with the smile made of gold and a heart to match. i miss him more than any words I could type here, I can still hear his voice some days calling me. I just wish it were real........

Rick's Story of Overcoming Addiction

My parents divorced when I was 12 and abandoned me. I quickly looked for something to numb the pain. I started hanging out with older kids that accepted me and found they knew where to get alcohol. Alcohol made me forget about my parents splitting up. I started drinking often by age 13. By age 16, I was using cocaine and drinking. By age 18, I was living in a crack house selling drugs to support my own habit.

At 22 Years old, I was hooked on cocaine and alcohol. I wanted help, but I did not know how to get it. I kept doing what I knew best and that was to get drunk and high. One night after partying with my friends. I was dropped off at home and in a black out ended up on a hill that surrounded my apartment complex. I rolled to the bottom, flopping off a retaining wall and smashing my head on the pavement. I was rushed to the hospital and had a right frontal craniotomy. After the surgery I stayed in a comatose state for several weeks.

When I woke up from the coma and was able to eat again. I was placed in a nursing home to live out the rest of my days. I could not control my emotions and was angry all the time. I found it hard to accept what I did to myself and did not know how to express my feelings.

I discovered moving forward, being productive, and finding the positive in each day was the only way to make my circumstances better. With determination, hard work, and focus, I left the nursing home and my wheelchair for a walker and eventually a cane. After 3 years of therapy I was walking with no assistive device.

In the 16 years since my accident I have been able to walk, talk, and drive again. I went to college and earned a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling and Psychology. I retrained my brain to find positive in each day and keep moving forward.

I have dedicated my life to helping others who have experienced trauma, injury or addiction. I am a Behavior Therapist, Recovery Coach and Certified Professional Life Coach that specializes in helping individuals overcome addiction and move beyond injury and trauma. I now have over 16 years clean and sober! My date of becoming clean and sober is 8/26/1998.

If this drunk and junkie can turn things around, you can too! Thanks for reading!

Yours truly,

 

Rick Von Linsowe, MS, CPC

David's Story

Hello everybody my name is David Rudisel, I was recently asked by Jack Tanner to tell my story to be featured in the Freebirds newsletter. About 10 years ago Jack Tanner and a few other guys had a dream while they were all in jail to start a sober living house so addicts could have a safe place to go when they got out of jail. It has grown from a 3 bedroom house to an old school building that houses over 30 women and 30 men, in separate dorms of course. and is recognized by all the courts in our county and surrounding counties. We call it Freebirds and it's a great place to start your recovery. Thanks Jack, everything positive I do only reinforces my recovery so here goes I won't go into a drunkalog because of the affirmative beliefs of Recoveries Anonymous where we focus on solutions and not the problem. To tell my story, I will give you some background information. I have been battling my addictions for 45 years. I have been in an out of AA and NA for about 30 years. In my story I must refer to Jack Tanner as he has been a very big, and important part of my story. I knew Jack for many years we used to party and play guitars back in the day. Ironically what I remember best about Jack playing guitar was his favorite song, back then anyway, Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Coincidence? Or God's plan? Jack and I have not always been friends in fact there was quite some time that we were actually arch enemies. I won't go into too much detail but I will tell you that it involved a woman named Carla a lot of alcohol and a lot of drugs. Carla died from an alcohol related disease in her liver that turned to cancer. I hadn't seen Jack for many many years but I ran into him at her funeral. I was really apprehensive about even speaking with him because of our past. I noticed there was something very different about Jack, his appearance made it apparent that he was no longer using drugs or alcohol. I spoke with Jack at the funeral and I could tell that he no longer harbored the resentments and the hatred that we once shared. That was truly amazing to me. I had only heard of freebirds at that time, I heard they were doing really great things for people. I was still in full blown addiction and continued for the next 5 years. I had been arrested many many times and each time it involved alcohol or drugs in one way or another. Fast forward to 2012. I had been living in a house with no electricity and no running water for over a year. I had three or four homeless people at my house all the time. I tried to get off the drugs so I could get a job but I couldn't stay off meth long enough to pass a drug screen for a job. My life was a mess but I really didn't know how to turn things around. I didn't have any real friends I was surrounded only by my party buddies. A couple of weeks before I was arrested this last time my dad asked me if I would go to church with him I told him yes so we went to church and I was really amazed to see people that were happy and smiling and they wasn't on drugs or alcohol I cut way down on my drug usage and my alcohol, but I hadn't quit yet. I went back to church the following Sunday and again I was amazed at the happiness these people had with no drugs or alcohol. I woke up on the morning of September the 12th 2012 I looked at the way I was living and what a mess my life had become and I said a prayer. "God get me out of this mess". My prayer was answered shortly after midnight that night.. Not exactly the way i really wanted it to be answered. But probably the only way it would have really worked. I was arrested for Meth charges and spent the next 4 months in jail. any shorter and I probably would have gone right back to the same life I had lived for 45 years. God really does hear us when we pray and answers in his way what he knows is best for us. During my four months in jail I got involved in the jail linkage program I started chairing meetings and encouraged everyone to participate after all it is our lives at stake. I usually asked whoever I thought was not participating in our meetings to chair a meeting to get them involved. that really seemed to work. And we had some very good meetings. I especially looked forward to Jack Tanners meetings. During one of his meetings he was telling the group about how we knew each other. I spoke up and explained to the group that I did not know Jack and I was telling the truth because I didn't know Jack as a recovered man. The Jack I knew was an addict and a drunk. Jack was a new man that I was just getting to know. Jack was truly a new man with our past and the resentments we used to carry Jack could have stopped me from coming to Freebirds. Jack made a recommendation to the courts that I be released to Freebirds. Gods timing is perfect. I was released from jail to Freebirds Solution Center Jan 8, 2013. I was finally ready to have a new life, and now I have one. During one of my first meetings at freebirds I was introduced to recovery anonymous. The first time I heard someone introduce themselves as recovered or recovering I immediately recognized the power of affirmation. I decided at that time that I would never call myself an addict or an alcoholic again I began introducing myself as in recovery or recovering and I introduced myself that way for about 6 months and it worked. I was really recovering. I wasn't struggling at all. Recovery has been one of the easiest things I have ever done, so much easier then it was trying to stay high. I realized what I have been searching for all my life I finally found in sobriety it took getting clean and sober. putting things in their proper perspective and realizing being cool didn't mean getting high anymore.Today Im living life on lifes terms. and things are really getting better. I like waking up and remembering exactly what i did yesterday. And tomorrow is another day full of hope. I am experiencing life in a new and better way. I have watched many of my friends die and or destroy their lives and families. and for what? Being Drunk or High Is Not Cool. Cool is watching my grandkids grow, or watching winter turn to spring, making our world a better place however we can. I love life even on my bad days. I try to make a difference wherever i go today. They say change people places and things, what I found was when we change ourselves those things change automatically. I still have friends that are still using but I don't hang out with them, I cant save the world but i can save me and just maybe one or more of my friends will want what i have found. Peace and Sanity! I have been blessed I have a Good Job, a Great relationship with my family, and a new life that is so much better than I could have ever imagined. I give a special thanks to Jack Tanner, Karen Vermillion Eckerman, and the entire Freebirds staff, and residents for the Inspiration that led me to my Recovery. Today I proudly affirm by the grace of God I have recovered.

my love for my son

Im a mother of an addict for many years,I rasied him with morals,. value,love hope and faith.This disease of addiction took my son away from his family Jan 14,2014.Naranon,alanon NA AA Coda i was on fire for recovery for the love of my beloved son.He did try so hard and had times of soberity God Bless Scott mom loves forever,In Loving Memory Never Forgotten.See you Son .

my testimony of GOD's grace

“MY TESTIMONY OF GOD’S GRACE”

My name is Jennifer Faulk, and this is my testimony of God’s grace in my life. Grace is God’s undeserved favor. I started using drugs at 13 years old. I was hooked on heroin and crack by the time I was 15 years old. I realized that drugs had become a major problem in my life and although I tried to stop using, I could not. I went into about fifteen detox programs and rehabs over a 15 year period. While in these places I was told that addiction was a disease and had to be treated medically, but later I found out otherwise. Throughout the years I continued using drugs and going into treatment centers to try to quit. I would live on the street, use men, or do whatever it took to make money to support my habit. It was a big vicious cycle. During this time I considered myself to be a Catholic because it is what my family told me that I was from a little girl. All this time I knew that God existed, but I had no real understanding of Him or faith in Him. I thought that what I had to do was get my life together and start going back to Catholic Church on Sundays to be able to go to heaven. At that time I did not know, that what GOD actually wanted was a relationship with me, not my religious rituals.

In the midst of my drug use, a man that I will call Joe came in to my family’s life. He was a born again Christian. My mom told him all about my drug problem and how she tried for years to help me, but her attempts were unsuccessful. This made him want to try to help me. The first time I met him he had his Bible in his hands and he tried to tell me about Jesus, but I did not want to hear it! I pretty much persecuted him and the church. I told him born-again people are crazy if they think they are going to heaven. I told him I was Catholic and would be Catholic until the day I die and nothing would change my mind, because I knew it was the right way. Now, here I was a drug addict claiming to be a Catholic and not even understanding what it meant, persecuting one of God’s people and thinking I knew everything, when in reality I knew nothing. I had no idea how much God actually loved me, and what He had done for me.

Eventually I began taking Suboxone, which is similar to Methadone (a legal form of heroin). I thought it was great, the answer to a so-called clean and sober life, but I was deceived. I eventually got back on crack and heroin, and now I am 28 years old and hit “rock-bottom”. I lost everything including my family. No one wanted to talk to me and my parents did not even want me coming into the town that they lived in. They told me if they even saw me in town, they would have me arrested, and I honestly could not blame them at all because I had robbed them so many times and put them through so much. I’m surprised they didn’t react this way sooner. I did not know what to do. I did not want to keep getting arrested because I hated going to jail. I was staying with the only person who would still talk to me and they were fed up with me. So in my foolish mind I decided that I was going to become a ”functioning addict”. In my mind I thought that this would actually be possible where in reality there was no chance of this happening. Psalm 107:27 says ”they reel to and fro and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.” This verse describes me at this time; I was at my wit’s end.

The next verse, Psalm 107:28 reads this: “then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses.” This verse describes the next season of my life. It was Thanksgiving of 2007. Joe had offered to take me out to eat, so I went with him. On the way to the restaurant, I told him how I planned on obtaining a job and only doing drugs on the weekends, this to me would be considered a functioning addict. He listened to my plan and then asked me if I would like to say a prayer. Still considering myself a Catholic, I said yes because this is what we do on holidays, and it was Thanksgiving. I thought he was crazy, because I knew God did not want to hear from someone like me. After all I was not a Catholic priest or a holy person. Before we prayed he gave me a Scripture. He told me Jesus said in Revelation 3:20, ”Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with ME.” Then he told me to repeat after him. We prayed something like this: “Dear Lord Jesus, I am a sinner, I do need your forgiveness. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for my sins, I ask you to come into my heart and life and be my Lord and personal Savior, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

This was not the first time that I said a prayer like this. Joe had asked me to pray something like this before, but I only agreed because I felt pressured. But now something happened, I truly believed that Jesus died on the cross for me to forgive me for all of my sins. I knew something was different, but I did not understand yet. I did not know that Jesus was actually now living inside of my body through His Holy Spirit (just as Jesus promised in John chapter 14). I was now able to pray out loud and knew, without a doubt, that God was hearing every word. I knew something was very different and it was good. My parents forgave me and let me move back home, thanks to God’s divine intervention. I started reading the Bible and it was amazing. It was like the words were jumping off the page talking to me personally. I didn’t want to use drugs anymore. I was able to just stop doing crack but I was still hooked on Suboxone. I decided to start cutting down to wean myself. I also wanted to quit smoking so I switched to nicotine free cigarettes, thinking that this would make it easier to quit. So basically what was going on was, I met Jesus and found out what He did for me on the cross, and now I was going to clean myself up for Him. I was trying very hard to quit everything. It was impossible and I could not understand why. I know now, that God needed to deal with my pride. Jesus is the Deliverer but I was trying to do His job, which of course proved impossible. However, what is impossible with man, is possible with God. John; Chapter 8, states that “he who sins is a slave to sin, but he who the SON sets free is free indeed.” I was a slave to drugs and I was trying to set myself free.

While I was trying to quit, I was reading my Bible a lot. All I could do was talk about the Lord. I tried to tell everyone in my family. I thought all I had to do was tell them this great news and they would believe. That did not happen. They got offended and started accusing me of being back on heavy drugs because they could not understand why all I could talk about was Jesus. This upset me and I eventually was back on crack and heroin. I knew the Lord was not pleased, I was grieving the Holy Spirit who now lived inside of me and even though I wanted to quit badly, I just could not and I felt horrible. I met a man of great faith while traveling from one drug spot to another. He prayed for me and told me that the Lord had delivered me. I thought, “Yeah right!” I did not know what ‘delivered’ meant, but I knew I still wanted to get high. I went to stay with a friend from high school for about five days getting high and surely what was told to me five days before was now happening. Jesus had showed up and delivered me. It was like handcuffs were taken off of me. I had a real encounter with Jesus. I did not see HIM face -to- face, but I did feel HIS presence so powerfully, I was brought to my knees. It was amazing! I confessed to HIM that I was living in complete rebellion against HIM, and I asked HIM to forgive me. I did not want any drugs or cigarettes or alcohol at all. Not only did I not need them, but for the first time I did not want them, because they no longer had control of me. The SON had set me free.

The next thing I knew there were police knocking on the door, so I opened the door and let them in. They asked me if I was okay - I told them I was. I knew the Lord had sent them to get me out of there. But I thought they were going to take me to jail because I had a lot of warrants. They asked me if I had any warrants, and I told them I did. Then I was told to meet them outside and I thought that was strange that they would say that rather than taking me out in cuffs. In the car, I thought we were headed to the jail. I asked the officer who was driving if he knew the Lord, and he replied, “You mean Jesus? Yes, very well.” I said, “Oh, do you work for Him?” He replied, ”Yes, I do”. We arrived at our destination, which to my surprise was not the county jail. The officer pulled up to the emergency room of Palisades Hospital, let me out of the car, and told me to go inside and they would help me. Now, I don’t know if the officer was an angel, or a believer who was so close to Jesus, that he knew that the Lord was telling him to bring me to the hospital and not to arrest me on the warrants. But, if he was a believer and not an angel, I want to be as in touch with Jesus as he was. Early the next morning I called Joe and asked him if he would come and get me. He did. When I got outside of the hospital everything was so bright and beautiful! I never experienced anything like this before. I was delivered and filled with the Holy Spirit. It was Sunday morning so we went to Brooklyn Tabernacle to worship the Lord. Once again the Lord’s unfailing faithfulness came into action, and He made a way for me to go back home and live with my parents. However, on that same day that the Lord delivered me from everything I gave in to temptation. Proverbs 26:11 says “as a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool returns to his folly”. And this is exactly what I did. That night someone I knew offered me a cigarette. I took it, even though for the first time I didn’t actually need a cigarette. Needless to say, before long I was back on everything. It wasn’t long before my parents kicked me out, once again. I thought I had angered the Lord. But I thank God for His mercy, which is Him not giving me what I deserve. Psalm 103:8 says “the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger abounding in mercy.”

At this point I was using every day, and once again trying to quit because I felt very guilty for using drugs. I kept asking the Lord to forgive me and expressed that I did not want to do drugs anymore. Then one day, in the midst of my mess, I realized I was lying to God. I then confessed to him that I liked using drugs and asked HIM to forgive me and to change my heart. This is where the healing began. He wanted me to be completely honest with Him. What I was doing before was just trying to clear my conscience by telling Him I did not want to use anymore when in reality I did not want to stop. I began crying out to Him and asking Him to deliver me once again. I told Him how weak I was, and how I had no power over the strongholds in my life. I told Him that if HE didn’t do this for me I had no chance. The Scriptures refer to His strength being made perfect in our weakness and when we are weak then we are strong. He showed me what this meant. When I tried to be strong and stop using, I realized how weak I actually was. But when I told Him about how weak I was HE gave me His strength. I kept crying out to Him and then one night I heard Isaiah 1:18 spoken on the television. “Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool”. I knew it was the Lord speaking to me. I knew that the Lord had come to get his lost sheep, just as the good Shepherd is faithful to do (Luke 15:3-7).

He told me in my heart that I was going to have to go to jail and about two hours later I got arrested on a warrant. I knew it was Him. This was His divine intervention and I was at peace with going to jail. I was in there for six months and I used that time wisely. James 4:8 says, “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded”. As I began to draw near to Him, He proved true to His promise and began drawing near to me. He taught me the meaning of 1 John 1:9 which says “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” You see, I was so used to trying to make up for all the wrongs I did to my parents that my attitude leaked over into my relationship with my heavenly Father. He lovingly corrected me and showed me that once I confess my sins I am forgiven and Psalm 103:12 says “He removes them as far as the east is from the west”. He does not remember, so why on earth would I, or even try to make up for it? He taught me to just move forward, and continue drawing near to my heavenly Father. He wanted me to stop trying so hard to be perfect and to just come to Him and spend time in His Word, talk to Him and allow Him to change me. Before I came home to live with my parents (yes, once again) He healed that relationship. The Lord sent a woman of God to visit me while I was still in jail. Shortly thereafter I had to go to court and upon being released from jail I knew I would need an accountability partner, so I prayed and the Lord provided. (An accountability partner is someone who is there for us to help us make sure that we are staying on point in our walk with the Lord, and spending our time wisely.) I am grateful to the Lord for her. She stood in court with me and offered to be my accountability partner. It is better to ask for one than to pick our own. He is faithful, if we ask we will receive. When I got out of jail, I knew that temptation would still be there. James 1:12 promises this: “Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him”. What a wonderful promise! Also, He gives me a conditional promise - James 4:7 says ”submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. So I know that, as long as I submit to God and resist the devil, he has no choice but to leave. Thank You Jesus for these amazing promises! Yes, this time I knew not to give into the temptation, like I did in the past, with the cigarette. The Lord has completely changed my life. He set me free from every addiction that I ever had. The more I get to know Him through His Word and prayer the more I fall in love with Him. He has given me a new beginning and is using me to do His will here on earth. Jeremiah 29:13 is amazing -it reads “and ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

Maybe today you are reading this and you never heard the gospel, which simply means the good news. Romans 3:23 says “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” What this simply means is that God is perfect and holy, and we are not. Romans 6:23 says, ”for the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” What this means is that, because of our sin, we owe an eternal death sentence (Hell), but God sent Jesus, God the Son, to earth to take our place and pay the penalty for our sins by His death on the cross. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for our eternal freedom. “Christ died for our sins…He was buried… He rose again the third day…” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). He did this because He loves us, and did not want us to have to spend eternity in hell. God’s Word says salvation is a free gift. We have the freedom to willingly receive this gift. John 1:12 says ”but as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.” Have you received Him? If not, you can do so right now. You can pray this prayer to Him:

God, I am a sinner. I believe that Jesus died for me, and that you raised Him from the dead. I welcome you into my heart and life to be my Lord and personal Savior. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

If you believe with all of your heart what the LORD did for you, and trust Him as your Savior, here is more good news: John 17:3 says, ”and this is life eternal, that they might know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” This means eternal life starts now, the moment you believe. Now you can get to know your Savior through reading his Word. The book of John in the New Testament is a good place to start. He talks to you through His Word and you talk to Him through prayer. Also ask Him to guide you to a good Bible teaching church. I pray that this testimony of mine has touched your heart and opened your eyes to what GOD desires to do with your life also. He loves you more than you can imagine and wants to forgive you and restore your life. I pray that you will let Him!

Spiritual Soldier

This is my testimony. 
I was born and raised in the South Bronx, N.Y. From the age of 13 – 20, I was very involved in the streets as a d.j; brake dancer in gangs, as well as selling drugs and using them. At the age of 20 my daughter was about to be born and knowing that the possibilities of someone using her to get at me I decided to get out of it all. I had already been using drugs and drinking. I was an addict. I had to do something to give my daughter a better chance at life. I had already knew I was going to custody of her. So I joined the Army, National Guard Branch. I was based in the south and fell in love with the lifestyle down there and how easy it would be to make money. As soon as I was done with my service and tying up loose ends in N.Y. I moved my daughter and I to the south. I still was using drugs but I thought I was just a social user as well as being street pharmacies. It wasn’t till I had lost everything, 2 wives and several very good girlfriends, jobs, upon jobs, homes upon homes. I realized I had a problem. Mind u thru my life have tried 12 step programs, but only as it suited my needs at the time. l finally surrendered fully in the summer of 2009. I was invited to my ex-wife’s church, I had told her I didn't want to live like that any more, and I was already attending N.A. meetings. I loved it and continued to go to both. When I reached step 3 I was moved in such away that I decided to devote my self to a life following The Teachings of Jesus and was Baptized and Reborn in His name, Jesus Christ! This took place on September 6th 2009, which is the date I also use as my clean time. I continued to go to N.A. meetings. At the meetings they asked me not to speak about God from The Bible & Jesus & The Holy Spirit. I can respect that. So I found a Faith Based Recovery Program, several actually! Now I'm still open to what AA & NA have to offer pple, the chance to stop using drugs and/or alcohol. But needed more than that. I had a deeper problem, sin. And I want more than just freedom here. I want everlasting life. And I believe that thru Jesus Christ I have been healed, by His stripes Isaiah 53:4-5 & add in 2 Corin 5:17. And as long as I stay on that path I will Saved, and not fall Peter did in Matthew 14:30.
Now I don't consider my self a religious person even though I use scripture and attend church. I really didn't feel that religion is was Jesus was teaching I truly believe that Jesus message was LOVE to all, from family, friends and even enemies. 
I hope this gives u all alil more insight into who I am. 
I truly am not pushing my believes on any1. 
Thank u for allowing me to share this with u all.
Delivered since 09/06/09!
Praising God, Jesus & The Holy Spirit, as in the beginning, now & forevermore! A'men!

Kyle's Testimony

           To begin, my name is Kyle Short. I am a grateful believer who was freed from bondage six years ago (July 1, 2008). I still struggle with anger and feelings of inadequacy. The Lord has been merciful to me and sometimes I also struggle with the reason I am still here. Mainly, what is it? How can I help others, what can I do to reach people who are in the shoes I used to wear? Where do I fit in to God’s plan? I can ask questions for hours, but sometimes we are not supposed to know answers until a given time. Even so, there are things we may not find out until all is said and done. This is my story of redemption….

            My old life, as many of you can relate, was a complete waste of time. I believe God will use my past as a stone or a shelter for others and He knew the steps that I would take away from what He wanted me to be, yet around eight years I struggled with substance abuse. My life was a constant lie, a complete farce. Everyone who knew me back then knew that I could not be trusted. I would steal from my best friends. I would take from my family members. The one’s who loved me unconditionally were also the one’s I would take advantage of. It was a never-ending feeling of living one dose to the next. Even after obtaining a large quantity of my drug of choice, I would be planning out what and where I was going to steal from next. The drugs always ran out quicker than expected.

            My past triggers no longer control me. Along my recovery, God has taken them from me. Nevertheless, these same triggers are shared in a room full of people seeking help. My father was never there for me. Not one time did he ever try to reach out and find me. I thank God for my mother, grandmother and every other family member I was fortunate enough to be born to. Even though I had all the love in the world from them, I still had a lacking in my heart. Self-esteem seemed to elude me. I developed loathing for what appeared as a reflection in the mirror. I kept these thoughts to myself yet I knew, or I thought I knew, that even though unspoken, others around me shared my view of myself. Unwanted. Abandoned. Neglected. All words that never truly applied, yet I gave them a place in my mind. The enemy knows our weaknesses and will do everything he can to make us feel less than what we are in the eyes of God and the people who care for us. Sometimes I believe I chose to suffer instead of believing the truth about myself. I think I got used to feeling pain because it was the emotion I felt most powerful, and the emotion I felt most often. This pain ultimately aided in making my choices of intake. I was shy, I didn’t know how to speak logically, let alone stand up for myself or my beliefs. I got walked upon, chosen over and left aside. I thought I had every reason in the world to numb this pain. And it all began at a young age.

            In 1997 I moved to a new school. I began my freshmen year at Carlisle High School and believed I was able to “reinvent” myself. I could be whatever it was I wanted to be. I could finally make a stand for my Christian beliefs and let people know who I was…. Everyone knew I believed in God, but I was ashamed to wear t-shirts that advertised my faith. I remember being afraid of who would see me at See You at the Pole and hiding my face when the students began arriving at school. The next year I got drunk for the first time, and that same night was the first time I smoked pot. The drinking was fun, but there was something about pot that really got to me. I loved it- everything about it. That is what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. A stoner I guess you could say. It was a way to escape my mind and feelings of inadequacy. It was short lived, but also only a few hits away to returning to that “peaceful place.” The small group of guys that I would hang out with a drink became a solo party because they wanted to be loud and social and I just wanted to smoke dope and play my guitar. This went on until graduation, increasing from weekend use to daily in a matter of a few weeks. I always worked enough in high school to have gas and weed. Everything else seemed trivial. I didn’t want to hang out or go to the movies with everyone. I didn’t want to go to the basketball games and even quit the team my senior year. Substance became number one. Before God and before me. It was shortly after graduating high school that I also graduated substances. I had tried the pills and hallucinogens, the uppers and the downers and most things you can put into a pipe, but there was one thing I really wanted to try and actually sought it out by myself. It was my final step. The most extreme thing I could do to get away from the pain and the voice that got louder throughout the year. The voice that screamed at me that I have no point of existence got more believable as time sped by. Life was more than a drag. It was a complete and total disappointment. I had an absolute lack of life. The more I smoked, the worse I felt when I would come down. The harder I partied the worse the hangover and feelings of regret. This final step would push me away farther than I ever thought I would go. It would cause me to do things that still hurt my mind. The peace I was seeking so eagerly was right in front of me all along, but I had to hit rock bottom before I would take a step in a new direction, and I was not there yet.

            The first few times you shoot dope, an overwhelming feeling of nausea hits you hard. You may spend countless hours huddled over or curled up next to a toilet or trash can. As with all feelings, they fade over time and the intensity is the only feeling left. I had accepted my role as a failure. I had deemed myself undeserving of anything meaningful. I knew I would never progress in life. Any dream or aspiration had long since passed away and hope was lost forever. My ship was not only sinking, it had been cast upon the rocks. No lighthouse could be seen, no search party would be sent. I had never been more alone in my life. The track marks became more frequent, and quickly, I got the sickness. I do not know how many days of continual use it takes to become a full blown addict, but the necessary amount of days had passed for me and a new title had been given: “junkie.” Unwanted. Abandoned. Neglected. Junkie. Useless. Worthless. The list went on and on. A few weeks turned into a few months which turned into eight years. I had brief stints of improvement, but I would relapse because I had not yet replaced my void with what is necessary and HAS to be done for absolute fulfillment and complete recovery. I had not yet submitted my life to the Lord and asked Him to break my chains of bondage. It can be hard asking God for forgiveness when you know you have constantly done wrong.

            I met my father when I was 22. I was in a band and we were playing at a bar in the middle of nowhere. The only things I knew about him were that I’m the spitting image and his name. I overheard a guy talking to another guy and he mentioned working for a roofing company owned by my father. It was the first time I ever heard someone say his name. I panicked. I pulled our singer over and told him what was going through my mind and I ended up talking with this guy, telling him how the guy he mentioned was my dad and asking him to give him our CD after I wrote my phone number on the sleeve of our album. A few days later I got a phone call and blah blah blah…. We met at a restaurant and instantly became great friends. The time had passed for any type of father son actual bonding time and we just hung out. And when I say hung out, I mean we smoked large amount of dope. It was the only bonding time I ever had and probably ever will have with him. I moved in with him. The first year was great. He was attempting to make up for lost time. Whatever I needed or asked for he gave me more than willingly. Although I never asked for anything particular, I only wanted to be around my dad. I began working with him and he came to almost every single concert we ever had. We got along amazingly. This was also one of my brief periods or sobriety from heroin. The first year we knew each other was my definition of perfect at the time. The first Christmas was amazing. He spent insane amounts of money on me, but personally, it truly is the thought that counts with me. I can’t take anything with me when I die, so what is the point of having a bunch of things that are not necessary? It was after Christmas that the secrets came out. He was also an addict. He struggled with uppers. I struggled with downers. The next Christmas he didn’t come home. It was a quick downhill from one year to the next. I moved out after a little over a year and a half living there and have only spoken to him a handful of times since then. He knows my phone number, but he doesn’t call. That feeling of inadequacy does nothing in comparison to what it used to do. I have nothing to prove to anyone. I am dust. I am a person just like anyone else. Titles, possessions, things… they come and go and will not matter in the end. Yet, at the time, it was every reason in the world to begin using again. And I did- harder than ever. I will not go into detail on the amount used on a daily basis. But it was substantial. I felt death nearer than it had ever been and he was closing in on me. I actually welcomed the thought of meeting death. The sickness was too much to bear. Even If I could last one day, I was much too weak to attempt a full blown suffering. I waited for my last breath. Yet, still I breathe.

            I remember getting the phone call that my Aunt Louise died. I was at my friend’s house shooting up in the bathroom. She was one of the few that helped raise me. My family is practically one handful of people and this was the hardest time I ever faced. She meant the world to me. She would send me cards for no occasion asking when I was going to come back to church but also telling me how much she loved me. I still have many of them. Regrets. No sense in having them now, they will only bring you down. I cannot do one thing about where I was at the time or that she was in the hospital for one week and I did not see her one time. Out of the top three people in the world that I loved, one of them was no more, and I did nothing to see her before she left this world.

            At her funeral I remember the stares I got. My cheeks were sunken, my frame had become of incredible frailty and I could barely even stand. It was mentioned that my funeral would be next. My mom used to call me and tell me she had dreams about planning my funeral and seeing me in a casket, cold and lifeless. Everyone seemed to be simply waiting for the inevitable. But God is mighty and willing to forgive if we simply call on Him and actually try. It is not enough that we ask for help, but we must actively seek out change. Friendships and habits must be broken before chains can be.

            On June 30th of 2008, I once again came clean to my family (which was my mother and grandmother). I had gotten the number of a facility in Richmond, IN that was an outpatient clinic and called them and they said they could take me tomorrow and all I had to do was show up. I was tired of fighting to breathe; I was weary of struggling to avoid the sickness and decided that my life was not over. If the only two options are to suffer or to die, the choice is easy. I completed my two year program in nine months and thanks to my grandmother driving me to Richmond every literal day, I am still here. It has been a long and windy uphill continual climb. But the battles are long since dead. I have my good days and my bad days, but I do not think about drugs anymore. I honestly haven’t thought about them in many years. I have too much to be thankful for. All my hurts have been replaced with love. All my pain has been exchanged for joy. All my scars have been healed. Because I chose to believe. I chose to believe in God and his power, and I chose to believe in myself and my abilities. “We are weak and He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me.”

            Throughout the whole “being clean process,” about a million things have been altered in my life and mind. Eight years of emotions came flooding in and I cried all the time. I had so much regret that it was weighing me down. When faced with a lifetime of disappointment, we must realize that nothing can be done to change the past. We must accept our current situation, understand that life could be worse, be grateful for what we are given and keep our head up. Persistence is what gives the underdog the courage and strength to succeed. Faith is what made David stand up to Goliath. Repentance is what gave Samson his strength back. Prayer and acceptance is what got Jonah out of the whale and back on track to where he was meant to be. Moving forward has to be done by ourselves; no one else can move us. This mentality is still being worked on in my mind, but it gets better every day. I went from not caring what a person does or doesn’t do, to being deeply impact by what a person does or doesn’t do. I care now more than I ever have before and that also grows daily. I do not believe in death. I do not believe in pain. They are a part of life, but I have no part of inflicting ill on any living creature, to the point of not touching animal meat or their products. I have been reborn and I will only give life, I will never take away life.

            My relationship with God… dramatic improvement. I still feel I can make more time for Him. I know He moves me, but I want Him to throw me into the ocean. I mean, I want to just be completely submerged and never return to the surface. C. S. Lewis said all good things come from God- and I wholeheartedly agree. I have come to accept that I, Kyle Short, in human form am a total failure. I know that my flesh wants me to be rude and uncaring, unsympathetic, conniving and careless, giving in to the world and what is has to offer. But God has altered my thoughts. My concerns for this world are astronomical. The abused, the helpless, the hopeless, the innocent… My heart breaks for the addicts, those afflicted currently, the ones who have been hurt by us and the ones who will someday become us. 113 people overdose fatally every day. There has to be a stop to this. God is the only way out. The consumption of my choices created a void inside me that would only be filled with another greater than or equal to substance, until I asked God to take its place. God not only filled the void in my life, He filled the cracks in my heart and adjusted my mentality. He restored my soul. One of the most important steps to me is realizing that I am not God. When we stop trying to figure everything out for ourselves, a way is made. Hebrews 12:12-13 says “Take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong.” God knows our weaknesses and He may be asking for obedience before giving strength. I had to be diligent in order to regain my life back. I had to prove my sincerity. It was all or nothing. I wouldn’t have bet on me, but God did.

            Working with this program I am now able to give hope to others. I want nothing out of life but to help others. I want to be able to pay my bills, have a car that won’t break down, grow our own food and help others. That’s it. Those are my only goals in life. Nothing fancy or elegant or lavish. Just simplicity. I have nothing more than words that I can give to someone, but I am able to at every single meeting. I am able to meet people who either are still using or have been clean for a few days, weeks or months. I enjoy the honesty I seem to receive from people. After all, I’m just some dude. There is nothing special about me outside of God. God gave me the perfect family and the perfect wife. Someday I hope and pray to have more to give, but as of right now, it is only a story. The moral of my story is that God’s love never fails and there will always be hope. The sun will always rise in the morning regardless of how cold and alone the night may be. Storms will always be in our path regardless of sobriety, but without the rain a flower cannot bloom.

            My parting words are to have hope. If I am standing in front of you, or you are reading this from paper or another other means of these words entering your ears or minds, know that my battle has been won as long as I keep my head up and continue  looking forward. The same will always be true for you. I had to suffer for a period of time for the sickness to go away and my mind to return to me. But in comparison, it was a much shorter time than the time I spent using. Life will continue to improve as long as we continue to try. I have every possible ounce of faith in every single person in this world that will stand up for themselves and make a change! It might be a seemingly impossible choice, but this time next week it will all be over and life can start returning to what is should be. Read the Word. Pray. Even if you don’t know what to say. Never feel you are in no position to pray or worthless to ask God for anything. We sent His son to die for us even when He knew what we would do with our lives. He already knew about the choices you and I would make, yet Jesus died for us anyway.  He died for our sins, not our perfections.

            He believes in us, and I believe in us. Hope will continue to live on, why not choose to live with hope?

Our Stories Have Power

My Story Has Power

June 28, 2014 as read to Ginghamsburg Next Step Service:

Hello, my name is Lori and I am a person living in long-term recovery. What that means to me is that I have not used any alcohol or drugs for over eight years. And because of that, my life is a whole lot better. I can’t wait to tell you how it is better, but first let me go back to the beginning.

I figure I had my first drunk when I was around 15 or 16. And I got drunk. A bunch of us girls had concocted a plan to get a ride to the zoo, bring in the little travel bottles filled with all kinds of alcohol, and have a day at the zoo, drinking and having fun. Somehow the ride didn’t pan out, so there was no zoo, no event. I found myself at home with a bunch of alcohol and nowhere to go with it. I remember opening my bedroom window, putting on some music, and drinking all those little bottles. And I got drunk.

Years later, here in Dayton, when I getting help through the Turning Point program, the one thing I remember them saying was that a good indicator of whether you are a good candidate for alcoholism, was that you got drunk the first time you drank. I figure I met those criteria.

My childhood was marked by two major events that I think would have had some kind of big impact on a kid. First, we moved in fourth grade and that meant a new school. A little Lutheran school, two grades to a classroom. As if that wasn’t enough, I became the only girl in my grade, which became a daily struggle of fending off rude comments and giving the boys cooties. That ended in 6th grade when 3 other girls started school there as well, but by then I was used to it and didn’t want anyone in my territory, worried that I would lose the attention I was getting.

The second event was my dad’s death due to a heart attack the summer before I was to start high school.  I was only 13. Not something that an adolescent, let alone my mother, now a widow, left with four kids, could understand.

The winter of my freshman year, I smoked pot for the first time on a skiing vacation away from home. When school started up again, I eventually replaced all my straight-laced friends with the cool ones.  By the end of high school I was smoking pot, cigarettes, drinking all kinds of hard liquor like mad dog 20/20, snorting angel dust, doing Quaaludes, speed and anything else my older brother told me to try. I even tried shooting up one time; they missed my vein, and I was relieved as much as I was terrified.

I hid it well, and did ok in high school. I went to SIU for college and stopped using angel dust abruptly, but got busy with school and college partying. I graduated with a near perfect GPA in 1982 as a graphic artist. So far so good, I thought.

Somewhere around 1990 I knew I had some kind of control problem with drugs and alcohol. I had quit the coke habit, but that left me drinking the same amount of alcohol, as when I was when I was snorting coke.  Without the coke to pick me up, when I drank, I almost always got drunk.

This is the point where I called Alcoholics Anonymous and decided I should see what this was about. I went to my first meeting, and when they found out it my first time, I felt like the vultures of a cult had descended upon me. They told me of how I needed to go to meetings, meetings and meetings and change my WHOLE life. I didn’t have time to do all that, not to mention I thought they were all nuts and part of cult with all their God stuff. I ran fast and far.

I did stop drinking by 1992 when my son was born, and for the next several years I experienced motherhood and the family life. It wasn’t until I got divorced from my second husband, a recovering alcoholic himself, and moved to Ohio from Chicago, that I thought, “I can drink now.”  By acting on that thought, I triggered an escalating drinking pattern that caused me to take a look at what I was doing.

The continued drinking, combined with regular cocaine use, had started to create the problems that we all know so well. Missed days at work, a DUI, suspect and judgment from the neighbors, cleaning up my social messes and disorderly conduct to name a few.   

It was Good Friday, Easter weekend 2006. The drinking started right after work on Friday and after a weekend of excessive drinking and drugging, my boyfriend and I were wondering what to do, how to stop… we needed to do something.  We had been up all weekend, but I suggested we go to church. We got more coke instead and, of coarse, I called off on Monday, and together we decided to get help.

For me, my bottom was about FEAR. The fear of not being able to be there for my kids if they got hurt; being too drunk to go to the hospital. Fear that I would get charged with negligence. Fear that I would hurt or kill someone driving drunk. The fear that I could arrested going and copping coke on the west side. I was thinking, “What mother does things like that?”.  Fear and more fear. 

I was full of fear, I knew I had a problem and needed help, but I wasn’t sure if I was in the alcoholic category. I had tried all kinds of ways to stop on my own. Some had worked for a while, but it was a struggle and never stuck. 

I went to Turning Point outpatient. They wanted me to go to AA meetings and gave me a book.  I told my counselor that I didn’t really like AA because they always went over the same stuff, read the same stuff, over and over. It was boring.  I “graduated” and continued to go to meetings.

I went to this one meeting a few times and I really liked what this one woman was saying. After about 3 or 4 times of going there, I decided to ask her to be my sponsor. I really didn’t even want one, but everyone tells you to get one, so I figured I would ask her. I had to practically run after her in the parking lot, and I said to her. “I was gonna ask you to be my sponsor, but I am afraid of what you are gonna make me do.” She said, “Read to page 58 and give me a call.”

And from there, the real growth started.  I did as she said. I learned that I did in fact have a problem. That it was a two-part problem.  A mental obsession and a physical allergy; I underlined, I wrote in the margins, wow, this was explaining everything and I could relate! They called it powerlessness. A lack of power. I kept reading and discovered that there was a solution. That solution was power, also two parts. The Fellowship and the Vital Spiritual Experience.

I learned that the fellowship is the testimony that the program works, but the Vital Spiritual Experience only comes from working all the steps in order. Twelve simple, but not easy steps. I did steps one to nine, one after another, not wasting any time. Now it was time to practice what I had learned.

I was taught how to rely on a Power greater than myself , to give up running my own show. I practiced tapping into this new-found power. When I was fearful, like making a hard phone call to my mom, I would ask this power to take away my fear, to make the words come from my mouth, that You know what I need to say, and to do it for me. And when one second of peace would come over me, I would press “dial”. And He would take over. He would speak for me. I found that this worked! And once it worked, I kept trying it. Then when some bigger situations came my way, I tried it on that too. And it worked. And so I came to rely on this Power greater than myself. And once I used it solve bigger problems, instead of drinking, I knew that I never had to drink again, because I had gotten through tough times tapping into that Power.

I went to that meeting for three years straight. I learned so much. I sponsored other women, and this completed the whole process, coming full circle.

Fast forward to about summer 2012. I found out my daughter was shooting heroin. Even with all my knowledge about alcoholism and recovery, this was the devil’s roller coaster ride that I hard time navigating. I got to thinking that if this horror has taken me for such a ride, imagine what it is doing to those who do not know about us. I made a decision to start a support group for families of addicts. The name, FOA, the logo, the tag lines, all of it, just came to me, really easy. God at work. I started a Facebook page and designed a website, neither of which I had ever done. I started putting our story out publically. I did this, because I read over and over about parents that had lost their child to heroin addiction, and that their message was, “Tell them you love them, and parents, say something,” So I started to say something. 

I had seen a quote that said, If you Want to Change, You Have to Willing to Be Uncomfortable. I believe this to be true. But I know that when I rely on God and tap into His power, I can be ok with uncomfortable. Trusting and relying on what His will is for me. And with this trust, I have been able to create FOA and become an advocate for change publically on how the people of Dayton perceive the addict and addiction. I think the biggest reason I can do this, is that I know my past is my greatest asset. Stigma and shame are not a part of who I am today, because of the AA way of life.

God is using my past as my greatest asset, and where I need help, I call on Him and He is there. I do the same thing now as I did in early sobriety. Asking Him to remove my fear, and to do it for me. And this works still, every time.

This trust and reliance has enabled me speak about heroin addiction in the same way Marty Mann spoke about alcohol years ago. To be a public voice to promote change. 

I am doing things that without my sobriety, I could never do. FOA is hosting the Anonymous People movie on July 15th at the Neon. The goal of the movie is change the public conversation from addiction to the solution. 23 million Americans have the solution, but the stories that the public hears are not of success, but those of failure and tragedy. The movie is a huge motivator for people like me and you, people in long-term recovery, to step up publically where we can, to form a recovery community. A community that helps the suffering cope and get help, so that they stand half a chance while waiting for treatment, or just coming out of treatment. A community that offers all kinds of paths of recovery, so that one can find the person that has what they want, and gravitate toward it, without it seeming like looking for a needle in a haystack. Recovery is a way of life so why would we not want to create a successful environment for recovery.  The Anonymous People is an awesome documentary that shows how this works and what the benefits are.

And to prove how great God is, after a chance meeting with a couple of guys marketing their rehab in Florida to people in Ohio, they gave my daughter a full scholarship to their facility including help with sober living after. They are going to help sponsor the First Annual FOA Rally 4 Recovery on September21st. Everything happens for a reason.

Trust in God and in the plan He has for you. Everything happens for a reason.