Like a lot of young people, I was looking for acceptance from my peers when I began my addiction journey. I was thirteen years old and met some boys that lived on my street.
They taught me how to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and smoke marijuana all in the same week! By the time I was a sophomore in high school, I was an everyday pot smoker and binge drinker on the weekends. I also began experimenting with inhalants like “rush” and hallucinogens like LSD and Psilocybin Mushrooms. By the time I graduated high school I began to experiment with powder cocaine, doing an “eight ball” every weekend. I always seemed to be searching for peace and contentment in the bigger and better high. It was during my junior year of college when I had the bright idea that if snorting cocaine made me feel good, smoking it had to feel even better. So I made the tragic mistake of trying crack cocaine.
After my third time using the drug, I had what they call the “shell hit” that rocked my world. I immediately quit drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana to focus all my time and money on crack cocaine. Somehow I managed to get through college and earn a degree. I then went to work to support my habit; but the wages I earned were never enough –so I began lying, manipulating, even stealing to get funds to smoke crack on a daily basis.
The funny thing about me becoming a “crack head” is I didn’t look the part. As a matter of fact, I often had trouble making a drug buy because the drug dealers thought I was an undercover enforcement agent.
Most people think of crack users as poor, indigent people with no education and no hope for a future. Here I was – this well mannered, well dressed, well educated young man that knew how to play the role of model citizen and model Christian. Yes, believe it or not, I began to faithfully attend church approximately the same time I began my life of drugs and alcohol. I know that sounds hypocritical – because it is. I went to church as a boy to please my parents and later on as an adult to please my wife. I went to church services three times a week and lived like hell the rest of the time. But as my life spiraled out of control God had a different plan for me.
When I was twenty-seven years old I went on a five day crack binge that ended in my stealing a car, going on a crime spree and a high speed chase with police that eventually landed me in Florence County Detention Center. The day I was arrested was the best day of my life. That was the day that I finally believed what so many of my family and friends had been telling me. My life was out of control. Crack cocaine had become my master. It was only after I landed in jail that I cried out to God and asked Him to help me. God heard my cry and opened a door for me to get out of jail and go to a year-long Christ–centered addictions program.
It was in that program that I realized the peace and joy I had been searching for in drugs was to be found in a personal daily relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not talking about religion, I had practiced ritualized religion all during my addiction. I learned that Jesus is a real person that desires to spend time with me on a daily basis through Bible reading, meditation, and prayer. I found that there was freedom from bondage in obedience to God. I now know how to have a great time without getting high.
I am so grateful for God’s mercy and grace in my life; it has motivated me to work with others that are struggling with the bondage of addiction.
After graduating from the one year Christ-centered addictions program, I came back to Florence, got a job, and began attending and serving at the Florence Baptist Temple. After having conversations with our Pastor, Dr. Bill Monroe, and our Associate Pastor Clayton Simmons, the decision was made to start the Reformers Unanimous addictions ministry in our church. The first several meetings of that program were held in my living room. After a short period of time the group grew enough to begin having the meetings at the church. After only a year the program grew to the point where Pastor Monroe asked me to come on staff and serve full time as the program director. God has allowed us to continue to grow and we have over 150 students meeting during the two classes given each week, Friday at 7:00pm and Sunday at 9:15am.
My wife, however, is the true hero of our family. When she learned that I had become hopelessly addicted to crack cocaine, she did the right thing and honored her marriage vows by continuing to support me and our children. She also did the hard thing and made a decision not to continue to enable me in my bad behavior. She insisted that I go and get help for my addiction. She found a one-year long Christ-centered addictions program that would help me. She held down a job at McLeod Hospital and raised our two children while I was out of state in recovery.
If someone you love is enslaved to drugs or other strongholds – do the hard thing. Don’t continue to cover up the problems. Allow that person to begin to endure the consequences for the bad behavior – not to punish, but to allow the consequences to change their mind about the situation. I believe that for a person to decide to get help, the pain of change must become lesser than the pain of staying the same. In other words, when the reality of a person’s life becomes painful enough they will be willing to try something different. That is when we as family members and friends can suggest and/or even help them get into treatment. But until that loved one makes a decision to get help, let them negotiate life on their own. Don’t be the person that prevents them from experiencing the pain that is necessary to bring them to repentance.
Our family life is like many others in today’s world – hectic. It is very difficult to balance time between family, church, work, school, athletics, and other interests. Sometimes it’s hard to know if you are doing everything right.
Our faith in Jesus Christ is what we depend upon to set priorities and to make choices in life. God’s word teaches in I Thessalonians 4:1 that, as we choose to live our lives in a way that pleases the Lord, He will give us guidance in how to live the abundant life.
I used to think that having children just came with the territory of being a married adult. That God allowed us to have children simply for our personal enjoyment. But now I believe that the life I live is not just my own. I have four children that are looking to me to help them develop and mature. They depend upon me to love them enough to protect them, tell them the truth, and to set the right example every day. I wish I could say that I’m always successful in doing all those things, but that wouldn’t be the truth either. I believe my best chance of being a “great father” is dependent upon my willingness to become more and more like my Heavenly Father.
I have discovered that there is tremendous joy and peace in doing what God has created me to do, for accomplishing His will for my life. I spent much of my life frustrated and disappointed about who I was and the direction my life was heading. I tried to self medicate these feelings by using drugs and alcohol. I no longer need drugs to feel better about myself; I am so fulfilled by being the Christian that God made me to be.