Out of the Shadows and Into the Light: Addiction Survivors Take Back Their Lives

Posted on by Heidi Brunsting

Addiction is a very real problem that people of all ages struggle with.  Our youth and even youth leaders can find themselves drowning in addiction.  The following is an article written for us by Constance Ray, from recoverywell.org.  She shares some stories of individuals struggling with addiction.  Our YFC staff and volunteers are here to point lost and hurting youth to Christ.  Thank you for your support!


By Contance Ray, Guest Writer from recoverywell.org

Photo by Alex Wigan on Unsplash

“I'm so grateful to be set free from living a fear-driven life and carrying the burdens of that fear and worry. I am so thankful that I am happy the majority of the time today. I have a plethora of resources when I hit a bump in the road — people I can call and we can reason things out together. I don't have to do life based solely on my own best ideas anymore.” - Annette Marshall, Recovery Advocate


Achieving normalcy is the name of the game when you’re a recovering addict. The simple things become the Holy Grail, and what used to be considered the mundane is now the best possible outcome. Anyone who has been through recovery knows this feeling all too well. And it’s the ongoing desire for a normal life and sobriety that keeps people moving forward.


But getting there is no easy feat.


The stress of going into rehabilitation, the anxiety of potential relapse when you enter the real world again, and the hunger for acceptance and understanding are enough to tear anyone down. But people do it every day. They make it happen and they keep putting one foot in front of the other, even during the most difficult of days. How do they do it? How do they keep going?


Andrew’s Story


An adolescence and early adult life of drugs pushed Andrew to the edge and back. Along the way, he lost himself and his father. In and out of treatment programs, Andrew wasn’t ready to let go of a life that was continuing to break him down until finally he was homeless and dealing with a broken jaw. Fearing for his life, Andrew’s mother secured him a spot at a rehab facility out of state. Andrew knew then that it was time to finally admit he couldn’t do it on his own.


“At that point, I was ready, and it was truly the most Godly experience,” Andrew recalled.


Now, Andrew is clean and sober, and he works daily to help others rise above their addictions. It’s what keeps him going.


“Helping people. It’s that cut and dry,” Andrew stated. “I now work every day to help get people into treatment. I could have never imagined after everything I went through that something good would come out of it. But it did, and I now have purpose.”


Rickey’s Story


A youth pastor for 14 years, Rickey didn’t fit the stereotype of a substance abuser. But a series of painful surgeries left Rickey using prescription medications that eventually took over his life. He went from a life of preaching to one of stealing from family and friends in order to feed his growing addiction. Landing in jail shook Rickey to his core and was the jolt he needed to get his life back on track.


“I got into a lot of trouble — legal trouble,” he said. “I was caught stealing more than once. I ended up going to jail for a year. While I was there, I really had some time to think.


“Eventually, they furloughed me into rehab … I didn’t want rehab, I didn’t want jail, but I needed all of it. I really, truly believe that if it wasn’t for those two things, I wouldn’t be here today.”


Rickey has returned to a life of preaching and helping others. And his trials with drugs have left an indelible mark that has given him a different perspective.


“I’ve always heard, ‘Once an addict, always an addict.’ It’s just not true. I no longer have a desire for drugs. I get better enjoyment out of life: I laugh, I’m thankful, I found out who I am in Christ. I learned how to help others; instead of being judgmental, now I know why they can’t quit.”


Having a normal life is possible, but it’s an everyday fight for recovery survivors.


Andrew and Rickey, and millions more like them, have realized and accepted that a life free of addiction is a battle worth enduring. They wake every morning to fight the good fight now because they’ve seen how bad the alternative really is, and they know that normal life is the one worth fighting for. 

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