STATE OF AFFAIRS: Small Town in Georgia Fights Addiction with Power of Prayer
Woman Beats Death, Says God has Called Her to Save Lives
LAGRANGE, Ga. – Just a month ago, about an hour away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Atlanta, a barefoot 30 year old Kelly Camp walked out of jail, with no possessions outside of what she was wearing, with one mission: to be addiction’s worst enemy.
“My parents divorced when I was 10,” Camp says of her childhood. “I was trying to fill a hole. I started running away, got caught shoplifting. At 11 years old, my mom had to drive an hour and a half to pick me up.”
Camp started drinking alcohol at 11.
“A lot of my friends were older,” says Camp. “They weren’t even old enough to drink, but..we managed.”
It didn’t stop there.
“They say marijuana is a gateway drug, but…I just jumped right over it,” says Camp.
By the time she was 13, she was heavily addicted to meth, and started making it. It was the only thing that made her feel okay with herself.
“When I was a teenager, I would do whatever drug was put in front of me,” says Camp. “Heavily. I had my first child when I was 17. At 19, I was pregnant with my second child, had a 2 year old son, and 11 felony charges.”
Kelly’s charges ranged from manufacturing meth, possession, distribution to forgeries and obstruction charges. But something one woman said to her in jail would haunt her for over a decade.
“She said I know a man that will change your life,” recalls camp. “That there was hope. And in the back of my mind, I heard her say it to me. Through everything.”
Dee Clark, who worked with the local jail ministry, had planted a seed that would take years to grow. Camp’s mother put their property up to pay for her $30,000 bond. The court opted to let her go to in house treatment. While she was there, tragedy would strike her family again.
“My baby’s father died in a car accident,” said Camp. “It was devastating. And while I feel like I was getting what I needed, I couldn’t focus on my treatment. I just said and did what I had to do to get home and be with my babies.”
Camp graduated the program early to satisfy the court and the facility. She made it 3 months before her next relapse. That’s when she lost her daughter into foster care. Fighting to stay drug free and get her child back, tragedy was not through torturing her just yet. Camp was involved in a head-on collision. Carmen Pratt, the Mayor of Gay, Georgia was killed. Camp was life flighted to Columbus Hospital.
“They gave me opiates,” says Camp. “That was when my addiction to prescription painkillers and IV heroin use started. A whole new kind of hell.”
Camp’s addiction would put her back into treatment, at 25 years old, with 2 children and even more felonies. This time she stayed for a year. She says she learned the tools she needed, but didn’t really know how to apply them to her life. After being sheltered from triggers for a year and all of a sudden having to take care of her family and be back out into the world, Camp says it got to be too much. She relapsed again.
“I would lie, go to churches and get them to take up love offerings for me,” says Camp. “My kids would find me overdosed. My mother was always on pins and needles, expecting to find me dead every day.”
Camp knew she wouldn’t survive like this.
“I would dial 9-1-1 on my phone, and set it there on the bathroom counter before I shot up,” says Camp. “Just in case I had to hit send. I had no respect for my life at that point. Just the drugs.”
Camp’s kids were 10 and 12, when she became pregnant again with her 3rd child.
“Things started to turn around,” says Camp. “I wanted to live. To survive. For my baby.”
Camp and the baby’s father got engaged. Four days before the wedding, Camp ran away, and relapsed again.
“I told my OBGYN I didn’t know how to quit and I didn’t need to have that baby,” says Camp.
In court again, this time with 3 more felonies (16 total), Camp says the judge told her they were disgusted, and had no right to be a mother. She was jailed without bond. After a couple of months in jail, Camp had her daughter, and fell into addiction again. It carried on until May of last year.
“When my daughter was 8 months old, I got cotton fever (metabolic acidosis),” says Camp.
Cotton Fever is a condition mimicking sepsis which is contracted by intravenous drug users through the cotton filter. It sometimes can lead to endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart valves, which can be deadly.
“I had a fever of 105,” says Camp. “I was driving down the interstate with my baby. I pulled off to the side of the road, got my baby out of the car and held her. I kept praying ‘God please don’t take me, please don’t take me.’ That’s all I remember. I woke up and they were taking me off life support.”
Camp had been in a coma for 3 days, on a respirator. The doctors told her family she had showed signs of possible brain damage. She would later check into a 6 month treatment center in Atlanta. She was discharged after 4 months. She took a cough drop and tested positive for dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant, which was a violation of the program.
“I came home last October and started drinking a lot,” says Camp. “Got DUI’s. I gave guardianship of my daughter to my ex-mother in law.”
September 16 of this year, Camp walked out of jail for the 13th time, with 19 felonies on her record.
“They lost my shoes,” says Camp. “I walked out of there barefoot with nothing. I had nothing, but I knew I was free.”
This time Camp knew something was different.
“I had never really believed in God before,” says Camp. “But He spoke to me. He said ‘I have a different plan for your life than this cell. I knew that whatever I had to face on the other side, no matter how painful, God had better. I wanted to live, and see what better was, and so far, His better is SO MUCH better than any high.”
Soon after her release, Camp heard about a treatment center wanting to come to LaGrange. She started praying that God would help them.
“I thought: I don’t have money, but I do have a story, and I have friends that have a story. Everyone you know either has or knows someone who has fought addiction, and I thought maybe if we can all come together, we can get them here,” says Camp.
Kelly’s spiritual mentor, Ms. Wanda Walker, had attended the meeting about the prospect of the new facility, and when she got back in the car, the song “Break Every Chain” was playing on the radio. They knew that would be the name that would bring Kelly and her friends together.
According to Camp and her friends, LaGrange used to have a meth problem, but now it’s opiates. The group says in the city it touches 1 in 2 families.
“You gotta either face it or ignore it,” says Camp. “And we’re gonna face it. We have to do something about it. We are praying for deliverance in our community and for peace between law enforcement, those placed in authority, and the hurting people here.”
And the state needs prayer. A report from 2012 indicates an increase in the availability of Mexican heroin in Atlanta. South American and Mexican heroin is sought after for its purity. Oxycodone was the most abused prescription drug in the state. There was also an increase in the number of deaths associated with hydrocodone.
“Break Every Chain” will be held November 14 at 6pm on the LaFayette Square in downtown LaGrange. For more information, you can contact Kelly at [email protected].
“We’ve got a group of prayer warriors lined up,” says Camp. “And whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.”