The following is Pauls story, told through his eyes. It is a journey from the darkest days of drug abuse and despair to a remarkable recovery. The story cannot be told without the reader understanding Pauls relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul, a life-long resident of Johnson County, is now approaching the age of 40. His journey into a life of drugs began at the age of nine.
I was introduced to drugs and alcohol at a young age. When I was nine years old, I had my first alcoholic drink. I also smoked marijuana for the first time. I liked what it did to me and how it made me feel. As I grew older, going to parties led to easy access to alcohol and pot. I even ventured into pain pills once in awhile. During the 1980s, the use of prescription drugs pills had not gained the popularity they have today.
At one point, I tried to buy some pot from a dealer but was offered crystal meth. I took him up on that offer. This wasnt the homemade meth that you see on the streets today. This was manufactured in a lab by a chemist. From the age of 18 until roughly 23 or 24, I used meth off and on intermingled with other drugs. With the exception of heroin, I have used every drug out there. By the time I hit the age of 24, I was using meth whenever I could get it, often on a daily basis. My wife and I partied with a large group, doing drugs with as many as 25 people at a time.
In 1998, I attempted to quit using all drugs except pot. I made it roughly 26 months before going back to my drug habits. My wife had stopped for 20 to 22 months. Once she started using again, it wasnt long before I jumped right back in there with her. I started right back with meth. This time it was homemade meth, the kind thats made with skull and cross bone components. This particular form of meth is exceptionally devastating to users. To feed my habit, I began to sell meth. I drove to Johnson City twice a week to purchase pot to sell. I snorted, smoked and swallowed meth. I would do anything to get it in my system.
The effects of meth use upon users is devastating. Causing blood vessels to constrict, meth cuts off the flow of blood to the body. The body, in turn, cannot repair itself. Meth causes the salivary glands in the mouth to dry out. The acid that is produced causes cavities, rotting and blackened teeth. Because of the sensation of bugs crawling on their skin, many meth users are covered with sores where they have continuously picked at their skin to relieve the itching. Meth users suffer with high blood pressure, kidney and heart failure and malnutrition, among many other life-threatening disorders.
My wife and I were functioning addicts. I always had a job. However, three to four nights a week, I would party. I continuously fed drugs into my system, going without sleep for days on end. I have always provided child support. Im not a dead-beat dad. I was never behind on my bills. We were living among the public just like everyone else. By the grace of God, I somehow escaped physical damage to my body. I wrecked more vehicles than I can remember. I was stupid. I wasnt scared of anything. I would try anything.
My home life was full of friction, hatred and bitterness. My wife and I had grown so far apart that I left. We had been together close to 10 years. I had no place to go. A family offered me a camper to live in. By their actions, these folks showed me the love of Jesus, even though I didnt realize it at the time. I can now see that the Lord put me in that camper. I had hit rock bottom.
I have always believed in God. I didnt go to church much as a kid unless times were hard at home. At the age of 15 I gave myself to the Lord and was baptized. However, soon after that, I was arrested for being drunk in public.
In that camper, alone and desperate, I placed a gun in my mouth. Ready to pull the trigger, I heard a noise. It was the sound of the gun hitting the floor. I never released it. I never threw it. The gun was 20 feet away from me, laying in the middle of the room. Although I didnt realize it at the time, I believe this was where God stepped in. That day, the Lord knew I would proclaim his glory and honor Him.
I missed my wife. In my heart, I knew I loved my wife very much. I was desperately lonely and wanted to go home. Unbeknownst to me, my wife had been attending church and going to Bible studies. I came home, crying. Her first words to me were, Ive prayed every day that God would bring you home. I began going to church and eventually came to realize that Jesus would forgive me of all of my sins. He never stopped loving me in all that time, even when I felt the most unlovable.
I have attended a God-centered 12-step recovery program for the past four years. People that I didnt even know loved me more than people in my own community. Without God in my life, I would probably be dead today. I thank God that He allowed me to see that the world is full of broken people. I had a hard heart, more than anyone else I knew. Ive also learned that you have to let God enter your life.
The Holy Spirit began to work in my life. I was healed by the love of Jesus. I had to choose to let Him in. He continues to heal me to this day. I can choose heaven or I can choose hell. I live in heaven every day of my life here on earth. I lived in hell on earth for too many years.
After sharing his story of recovery and spiritual deliverance, Paul made a personal request and asked that we include this Bible verse in the article. The meaning of this verse is very significant as it reflects Pauls belief in Jesus Christ and his redemption.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20 NIV.