Interview with a Recovering Addict Series
By: Stephanie Woods
About 18 million Americans have alcohol problems and about 5 to 6 million Americans have drug problems. In this series, I will interview people that have cried out to God for help with their addiction and he brought the healing and hope to their lives that was so desperately needed. The following is an interview with Ellen, a recovering drug addict. Psalm 31:22, “In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.
Ellen will celebrate eight years of sobriety on August 6, 2013. This is a date she recalls with no hesitation. Despite her involvement with drugs and alcohol since age 13, Ellen was the first in her family to graduate from high school. She recounted to me the years of partying and experimenting with drugs beginning with marijuana. Each time she was introduced to a new drug it was from a friend or family member.
At age 18 she was introduced to acid at a teen club and was drawn to the energy it provided. And when she was introduced to cocaine, she found a new best friend. Later in life, Ellen continued to use cocaine alongside her husband. They lived a comfortable middle class lifestyle which provided Ellen the opportunity to stay home with her kids. Eventually she went from using cocaine to selling cocaine which led to using even more cocaine. And when she first smoked crack she was instantly hooked. Ellen remembers smoking crack with her father a few times.
Fourteen years into their marriage, the relationship became rocky and abusive. After an especially rough night when he hit her she walked out the door. Ellen says, “I left and didn’t come back except to see the kids”. There were 2 children still living at home at the time. Her husband got custody of the kids, packed them up and moved them to a new place. The loss of his family and his role in the separation took a toll on him and he struggled with depression even to the point of attempting suicide. In hopes of regaining custody of her kids, Ellen was able to stay clean and sober for eight months. At the time she was living with a man that drank so she was denied access to the kids. To cope with this setback, she went out and got high. After years of living life on drugs, she had a pattern of turning to drugs when life got difficult. Each time an attempt to regain custody of her children failed, she went out and got high. The drugs and partying escalated to the point of being an “organized drug business including guns and prostitutes”, says Ellen.
Just before her 50th birthday, after 4 days without sleep, Ellen began to take of her life. She sat in her apartment that night surrounded by guns, drugs, and addicts. Looking around she saw children hungry without their mothers to take care of them. Her next thought was “everything I’ve got is drug related”. When morning came she talked with her daughter, who had been clean for three years at that point. Ellen then made one of the most important decisions of her life – she decided to get help. Before she finally got clean she wanted to get high one last time. But instead of giving her drugs, a friend gave her a bullet to remind her of her life that had been spared.
With a group of eleven others, Ellen took a bus to the local church and made the most important decision – she rededicated her life to Christ. Every day for a month, she stood in line for a place to sleep on the floor at The Healing Place, a local shelter providing help for the homeless and recovery for the addicted. Eventually she moved up to the OTS (off the street) program at The Healing Place. She moved from there to half-way houses and got a job at a Five Star gas station stocking the beer cave. Ellen says God wanted her to make sure she could handle being around the beer. It was at a half-way house that she had the vision for and founded “In this Life, Inc.”, to provide help for the “children” of people in recovery and seniors. God gave her a passion to care for the least of these as He calls us to do in Matthew 25:40.
Ellen can now see the many blessings God has placed around her and the how His hand has been on her life. She is thankful for each day and each moment of her new life. She now lives in a beautiful home built my Habitat for Humanity and is constantly working to get donations for the children she helps through “In this Life Inc”. Ellen will graduate from JCTCS in May, 2013 where she has been Student Representative on the JCTC Board of Directors and KCTCS Student Senate Council Representative in Versailles for all 16 community colleges in Kentucky.
What does Ellen tell people that are trapped in a cycle of addiction? If they want help, there is a way. God is still able!