Trigger Warning: This article contains references to drug addiction and suicide.
I used to be a junkie.
What began in 2003 as an addiction to pain pills quickly escalated to a full blown heroin addiction. I was in a toxic marriage and felt completely alone, trying to hide my secret from everyone I knew. I avoided my family and lost the many friends I had come to know since moving to Powhatan in 1987. I stopped participating in county civic organizations and gave up on volunteer opportunities.
Heroin was my god. And I was miserable.
Around that time, I noticed that there was a new church that met at Powhatan High School. I thought about it every time I drove by and actually considered pulling in on a Sunday. But I had been to churches before and knew that the last thing I needed was a bunch of strangers smiling and looking at me with pity in their eyes. I always knew they were just waiting for me to leave so they could discuss what a mess I was.
Each day passed by in a blur – wake up (shot), go to work (shots), go home (shot), go to sleep. Then I’d wake up the next day and do it all again. I went to work so I could pay bills and buy more dope. That was it. My life was so empty – void of any joy or happiness. If something good happened I acted happy, but I couldn’t actually feel it. I couldn’t really feel anything.
Years passed in this way and finally, in November of 2006, I was done. I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided that I would rather die than continue to live the way I was. In order to stave off withdrawal symptoms, I was spending $200-$300 a day on drugs. I was lost, hopeless, and just about out of money. The next purchase I made was going to be enough dope to kill me.
My supplier saw that I was in trouble and suggested I check out a “recovery” clinic so I could get help instead of overdosing on purpose. I decided to try it and was given methadone to help me get off the heroin. Sometimes referred to as “replacement therapy,” methadone is an opioid that can keep a person from having withdrawal symptoms and cravings from the drugs. But because it’s still an opioid and can also cause withdrawal symptoms, many people stay on it for the rest of their lives. It isn’t a cure for addiction.
After I started taking the methadone, I was so afraid of the sickness and pain of withdrawal that I resigned myself to staying on it for the rest of my life. I would stay addicted, afraid and alone with my secret forever. I remained a “patient” at the clinic for over 15 years, making daily trips to Jeff Davis Highway to pick up my prescription.
During those years, I worked a lot of overtime. I had to pay for my methadone doses and gas to get to the clinic and back each day. I was also trying to pay off the debts I had incurred during my “high life” and attempting to maintain some sense of normal.
In 2016, I had another setback. I had to leave my job due to mental health and medical reasons. My employer was kind enough to let me “retire” so I could keep my pension, but I HAD to find another job. I worked at finding a job like it was my job. I typed resumes and applied for jobs from my mom’s computer, so I was spending a lot of time with her. She would ask if I was okay and I always said I was fine. I told her I just needed to find a suitable job ASAP.
My mom had been attending church and suggested that I go with her sometime. She told me I would really like the atmosphere and the people and said that it was different from all the other churches she’d been to. I remembered the church from all the times I had passed by the signs at the high school, so not long after, I decided to meet her there one Sunday morning.
My life started to change THAT DAY.
That church – PCC – introduced me to Jesus. I was still a complete mess, but there was a ray of hope. Everyone was kind and loving. Nobody judged me or treated me like I didn’t belong. I felt loved and accepted for the first time in a very long time. I began attending each Sunday, eager to learn and hear about how much Jesus loved lost sheep like ME!
I was baptized on September 9, 2018.
Soon after, I heard there was a new recovery program starting at PCC called Celebrate Recovery (CR). I made some inquiries and ended up being asked to help. The leaders of the group assured me that even though I was taking opioid medication, I could still play an active role in serving and growing in my recovery. With the support of the folks at CR and the hope I had from my new relationship with Jesus, I decided that I wanted to detox off methadone and really be “clean.” I finally had the courage I needed to start reducing my daily dose of methadone.
I prayed for Jesus to heal me from my addiction.
And I continued to pray every single day as I slowly reduced my methadone dose every two weeks. I asked to be healed like the lepers and people possessed by demons. I asked to be healed from the withdrawal symptoms. I asked for the strength to move forward in my daily life without the compulsion to hide behind my mind- and mood-altering drugs.
I was warned that I might start feeling withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sleeplessness and jitters. The doctors at the clinic told me I could stop reducing my daily dose anytime and just maintain until my body adjusted. I kept praying.
As I continued to reduce my dose, Jesus healed my fear. I was no longer afraid of being sick during my withdrawal. This first miracle made me confident that He WAS going to heal me from this addiction for good. I believed it with my whole heart and soul.
I kept reducing my dose and kept feeling good. And after 15 months of “medically observed withdrawal,” I was down to just 5mg (about three drops of liquid methadone) a day. As I prepared to stop completely, a friend of mine who is also a pharmacist told me to be prepared to feel sick. He had seen it many times before and knew it could happen to me as well. I told him that I BELIEVED Jesus was going to heal me.
On May 31, 2022, I took my last 5mg dose of methadone.
Jesus answered my prayer! I have not been “dope sick” at all. More than ever before, I know that Jesus heals. I believe He is close by my side 24/7/365, and I am eternally grateful for His presence in my life. I can live without dope, but I CAN’T live without HIM!
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE about PCC’s Celebrate Recovery program.