From Drug Addiction to Life in Ministry: Doug’s Celebrate Recovery Story
By Celebrate Recovery
My name is Doug, and I’m a faithful believer in Jesus who’s in recovery for substance abuse. I grew up in a good, God-fearing home. I have two wonderful parents that loved and provided for me. You could say that I had a good childhood, but a very sheltered one. I was 15 years old the first time I smoked marijuana. I liked it! I liked the way it made me feel, carefree and very chilled out. At first it was only a once-in-a-while thing at parties or camping out with friends on the weekends. It didn’t take long for this to become an every-chance-I-could experience to eventually an everyday habit. At first I didn’t buy it, just smoking when someone around me had it. Eventually I was not only buying it, but getting some for other people. This was the beginning of years of dealing drugs to feed my own habit.
I wish I could say that marijuana was where I drew the line, but I went to places where other drugs were also available. Marijuana brought me into a drug culture where people were buying and selling all kinds of drugs.
When I was 18 years old I tried LSD. Wow, was that an experience. I didn’t know it yet, but I had an addictive personality. I loved the effects that acid had on my state of mind and the euphoria it gave me. I was still smoking a lot of pot and now hashish. Binge drinking was a common event as well. I was “having fun,” or so I thought. I was a drug addict and didn’t realize it at the time. Through the next couple of years, I started using cocaine and speed, not all the time at first, but it soon became a common occurrence in my life. I was selling drugs, stealing, and doing anything else I could to continue to get as high as I wanted, when I wanted (which was all the time).
I was a full-blown drug addict, but when I turned twenty-two it got worse. Someone introduced me to prescription pain medication (OxyContin) and my life took a turn for the worse. Pills became my life’s goal and it came to a point that I couldn’t afford my habit, even though I was selling pills. One day I was with a friend who had heroin. I tried it and instantly fell in love with it. Within a few months I was injecting it, and for the next eleven years this was my method of drug use. In just seven years I was a junkie. I quit smoking marijuana (something I loved doing) because it didn’t give me the high I needed.
Those were the darkest years of my life. I was now a strung-out drug dealer, selling thousands of dollars’ worth a day and using about four to five hundred dollars’ worth a day. I sold drugs to two different close friends resulting in their overdose and death. I sponsored two abortions during this time period. My moral compass was broken. I didn’t care about anyone, not even myself. My drug addiction got to the point that if you couldn’t inject it, I didn’t use it.
One day in June 2010, I woke up like any other day during the previous 18 years (11 as a junkie). I left the house expecting to make a drug deal, but God had other plans. While I was driving, I heard a voice and felt a presence unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The voice said that if I would get close to him, he would get close to me (James 4:8). I instantly knew it was God and that my whole life was wrong. I started to cry, and I hadn’t done that in years; it felt good. Problem was I didn’t know anything about God. I contacted a local pastor and, instead of making that drug deal, met this man at his church and gave my life to Christ.
Within two weeks, I was clean and sober from all drugs. What Jesus did for me that day was change my “want to.” I no longer wanted to get high. Praise God! That’s a miracle! My life Scripture is Psalm 40:1-3, “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord” (NLT).
Today I’m an ordained minister, associate pastor of a church, and WV State Representative for Celebrate Recovery. I share my experiences to let others know there is hope. Is marijuana a gateway drug? It was for me! Does everyone who smokes pot become a junkie? No. But every junkie I’ve ever known started out smoking marijuana. For me, marijuana led me down a dark hole that only God’s love and grace could bring me out of. Just remember, no matter if it’s marijuana or heroin—there is hope.
Thank you for letting me share.
Once Addicted, Now in Ministry – Seth’s Celebrate Recovery Story
Once Addicted, Now in Ministry – Seth’s Celebrate Recovery Story
My name is Seth, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. My struggles with drug and alcohol addiction brought me into recovery.
I grew up in a small town in North Central West Virginia. My family included a loving mother, a father who expected perfection, and a sister with whom I competed for my parents’ attention.
At school, I craved to fit in with everybody. This led to my first experience with drugs and alcohol in 7thgrade. By my freshman year in high school, I was drinking alcohol every weekend and smoking marijuana every day.
When I graduated high school with honors, I was a fully functioning drug addict. I was captain of the soccer team, an all-conference performer in basketball, and a member of student council and honor society. I was also using hard drugs regularly and selling them to classmates to support my habits.
I followed my friends from high school to a small college about 45 minutes north of my hometown. I drank every day for over two years straight, not even missing a major holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving, and experimented with every drug available to me. Soon after graduating, I discovered what became my drug of choice, OxyContin. It was an instant love affair. It took away my feelings of worthlessness and made me feel like Superman.
After college, I landed a job as a registered nurse at a big university hospital. For the first year, I could keep my ballooning addiction to painkillers and my career separate. This all changed one morning when I entered the elevator after a long and trying night shift. I got on the elevator and made eye contact with another nurse I knew from my addiction. As we were the only two people on the elevator, he pulled out a vial of an IV drug and asked if I wanted to go get messed up. I had my hesitations, as I wasn’t that addicted, but I eventually caved.
Soon I was stealing and using IV medications at work. Now that my addiction and career had intersected, there was nothing I wasn’t willing to do to get my fix. Drugs controlled every second of every day. I couldn’t go to sleep or wake up without them. I started picking up extra shifts at work so I could more easily have access to the drugs I craved.
The next thing I knew, someone filed a complaint against me at work for drooling on a patient while I leaned over to check his breathing. I was called into the nurse manager’s office, where I faced all three of my immediate supervisors. I just about manipulated my way out of the situation — until they inspected my arms. They sent me to employee health for a drug test and then had security escort me out of the building. My emotions were mixed; I felt a sense of relief that I no longer had to lead this double life, but I felt fear at the possibility of living my life without drugs.
I managed to get my nursing license back and found a nursing job. This only lasted for about one year. After losing my nursing license a second time, my addiction went back into full swing. I felt shame and guilt over the person I had become. During my addiction, at least two people I knew of died of an overdose. These were people I had introduced to intravenous drugs, even taking the liberty to do it for them the first couple of times.
I broke every one of the 10 commandments and kept thinking, “How could I ever be forgiven for all the suffering I have caused others? How would I ever make things right? One night, I prayed harder and longer than I had ever tried before. I confessed to God all I had done. I asked him to change my heart and use me for his purpose. Feeling broken, I asked Christ into my life that night as I fell asleep. The next morning, I woke up with the strangest sense of peace I had ever felt. The weight of the world had been taken off my shoulders, and I could breathe again.
Matthew 11:28-30 has become very special to me. It reads, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NIV).
On July 16, 2014, I took my last drink or drug and started attending Celebrate Recovery with a friend from a church I had been visiting. My friend and I immediately signed up for a step study. In that step study, with my sponsor and accountability partners, I worked through my resentments with God. I was able to forgive myself as Christ forgave me. I opened up and shared all the horrible events of my past with my sponsor, and he didn’t judge me. He prayed for me! Principle 6 states, “Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.”
Today I am a ministry leader of a growing Celebrate Recovery group in my community. Working the principles of Celebrate Recovery is helping restore my life. I have a hope and a peace through Jesus Christ that I never thought possible.