Our country is experiencing a drug epidemic. 100 people die a day from drug overdoses. Heroin is taking out entire cities. People are becoming hopelessly addicted to painkillers. Meth labs are everywhere.
But all is not lost. There is hope. There is healing. Today we are sharing with you a story of one of our friends, a graduate from Vertava Health of Tennessee, and now a Campus Pastor.
Adam’s story is one of devastation and destruction but also hope and inspiration. This may mirror your life. This may mirror the life of your loved one. We want you to know that addiction can be treated and a fulfilling life can be had. Adam is proof. Read on.
What is your background? How did you start doing drugs or drinking?
I grew up with the American dream. I had two loving parents, a roof over my head and all the necessities. In high school played sports, I was popular, I even had a really pretty girlfriend. There was absolutely nothing traumatic. I really had everything that anyone could ask for.
It wasn’t until I went to college that some things started to change. I’m from East Tennessee and I stayed fairly local and went to University of Tennessee – Chattanooga. That’s where I got wild.
I had my first taste of freedom in college. I drank, I smoked weed, I took Adderall for midterms. That’s really when I first started to turn away from what I knew was right.
What happened after that?
After Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, I left Chattanooga to go down to New Orleans to help clean up the damage and restore the damage. One day while I was working, I hurt my back – and took a prescription pill to help ease the pain.
That very first time I took one of those pain pills, I thought, “OK, this is what I’ve been missing.”
How did your drug use progress?
That first pill helped to ease the pain. But in a short period of time, I wasn’t taking them to mask the pain, I took them to mask everything.
I’d take prescription painkillers for pain; I’d take painkillers to get out of bed; I’d take painkillers to go to lunch; I’d take painkillers to go to meetings.
Because I never actually had a prescription for them, I was buying it off the streets. It became very expensive.
When did your family start to notice the problem?
After I was done with the clean-up in New Orleans, I moved back to Knoxville and everything seemed like it was going to fall into place: I got a good job and I married my high school sweetheart.
But she didn’t know I was living a double life. Depending on bonuses, I was making about $800-$1200 a week, but I told her I was making $300 a week. I started pawning things for money to buy pills. That’s really when things started to spiral out of control and people really started to notice.
How did you first get into treatment?
I couldn’t keep hiding my double life, and it finally surfaced with my wife and my family. They set up an intervention on me, and I ended up going to rehab.
The first rehab I went to was very expensive – over $30,000 for 30 days. It was said to be one of the best treatment centers in the Southeast and one of the best in the country. While I was there, my wife was very supportive, my family was very supportive – everyone thought I was truly being healed.
I was there for 30 days. And the day I got out, I used again.
How did you finally get into Vertava Health of Tennessee?
After my experience at the first rehab, my addiction got even worse. I was lying, I was manipulative, I was stealing. My wife separated from me. My family locked me out of their house.
I started thinking about God. I had been raised in a good church and I thought a lot about the things I learned growing up.
So, I Googled: “Is there a Christian based recovery?” And that’s how I found Vertava Health of Tennessee.
I didn’t know where I’d get the money, I didn’t know how I was going to get there. But I knew that that’s where I needed to go. I had nothing left to lose, so I thought, “Why not give this a try?”
What made your experience at Vertava Health of Tennessee different?
When I got to Vertava Health of Tennessee, I started learning about Biblical principles and it really gave me a new perspective. I was able to apply those principles and those teaching to my life.
For example in the Bible, Jesus says to first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean. I needed to clean my heart in order to change the things in my life.
There had been a lot of consequences to my actions when I was using. But, slowly but surely, once I started applying these principles to my life, I started to see the changes: my wife started taking my calls again, my legal issues started to clear up, and my relationship with my family was restored.
The only way I can explain it is that there was like an entire shift in my DNA; in my life.
What did you discover about yourself while in treatment?
I discovered that I’m not unworthy or less-than. God fearfully and wonderfully made me. I’m a child of God and I don’t have to worry if I’m different than others.
What happened when you graduated from Vertava Health?
Vertava Health of Tennessee is in Middle Tennessee, so I was ready to go back to East Tennessee – where I’m from and where my wife was. But I felt this calling in my heart to help men deal with what I had dealt with. And the staff mentioned they felt it, as well. So I stayed and did an internship. It was difficult doing a long-distance marriage, but I knew I was supposed to stay here.
After my internship was over, I was offered a full-time position. I asked for 3 days to pray about it with my wife. On the second day, the vice president of my wife’s company called her into his office and offered her a promotion – a promotion that involved moving to Middle Tennessee.
I know some people may say that’s just a coincidence, but there’s somethings that are just in His will.
How has your family healed? What are you doing now?
My relationship with my wife is the best it’s ever been since we were high sweethearts. My relationship with my parents has been restored and we’re actually closer than we’ve ever been.
I’ve been an ordained pastor now for about three years and I work as a Campus Pastor for Vertava Health of Tennessee. I can’t tell you the exact date of when I got sober, but I know when God saved me. It’s not about me being sober, it’s about God.
What would you tell someone who is in denial about their addiction?
You can begin to believe your lies. But deep down, you know what’s going on. What happens if you don’t have your substance? Are you angry or short-tempered? Scared?
What would you tell someone about treatment to inspire them to go to Vertava Health of Tennessee?
2 Corinthians 3:17 says “..where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” See if that’s true. See that hope, and know that it’s true. Learn about this freedom we talk about at Vertava Health of Tennessee.
What keeps you sober each day?
I’ve tasted freedom and I know what it’s like to look at the only other option: Bondage. I was owned by something that could fit in the palm of my hand.
If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know what it’s look like to see the food come up that caused you to be sick. You can never eat it again because you know what it looks like on the other side. It’s gross.
That’s how I feel about my addiction. God showed me what was going on in me and He pulled all of that out. I can see it now and it’s disgusting. I know I never want that again. It makes the decision easy.