My name is Doug, and I’m a faithful believer in Jesus who’s in recovery for substance abuse. I grew up in a good, God-fearing home. I have two wonderful parents that loved and provided for me. You could say that I had a good childhood, but a very sheltered one. I was 15 years old the first time I smoked marijuana. I liked it! I liked the way it made me feel, carefree and very chilled out. At first it was only a once-in-a-while thing at parties or camping out with friends on the weekends. It didn’t take long for this to become an every-chance-I-could experience to eventually an everyday habit. At first I didn’t buy it, just smoking when someone around me had it. Eventually I was not only buying it, but getting some for other people. This was the beginning of years of dealing drugs to feed my own habit.
I wish I could say that marijuana was where I drew the line, but I went to places where other drugs were also available. Marijuana brought me into a drug culture where people were buying and selling all kinds of drugs.
When I was 18 years old I tried LSD. Wow, was that an experience. I didn’t know it yet, but I had an addictive personality. I loved the effects that acid had on my state of mind and the euphoria it gave me. I was still smoking a lot of pot and now hashish. Binge drinking was a common event as well. I was “having fun,” or so I thought. I was a drug addict and didn’t realize it at the time. Through the next couple of years, I started using cocaine and speed, not all the time at first, but it soon became a common occurrence in my life. I was selling drugs, stealing, and doing anything else I could to continue to get as high as I wanted, when I wanted (which was all the time).
I was a full-blown drug addict, but when I turned twenty-two it got worse. Someone introduced me to prescription pain medication (OxyContin) and my life took a turn for the worse. Pills became my life’s goal and it came to a point that I couldn’t afford my habit, even though I was selling pills. One day I was with a friend who had heroin. I tried it and instantly fell in love with it. Within a few months I was injecting it, and for the next eleven years this was my method of drug use. In just seven years I was a junkie. I quit smoking marijuana (something I loved doing) because it didn’t give me the high I needed.
Those were the darkest years of my life. I was now a strung-out drug dealer, selling thousands of dollars’ worth a day and using about four to five hundred dollars’ worth a day. I sold drugs to two different close friends resulting in their overdose and death. I sponsored two abortions during this time period. My moral compass was broken. I didn’t care about anyone, not even myself. My drug addiction got to the point that if you couldn’t inject it, I didn’t use it.
One day in June 2010, I woke up like any other day during the previous 18 years (11 as a junkie). I left the house expecting to make a drug deal, but God had other plans. While I was driving, I heard a voice and felt a presence unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The voice said that if I would get close to him, he would get close to me (James 4:8). I instantly knew it was God and that my whole life was wrong. I started to cry, and I hadn’t done that in years; it felt good. Problem was I didn’t know anything about God. I contacted a local pastor and, instead of making that drug deal, met this man at his church and gave my life to Christ.
Within two weeks, I was clean and sober from all drugs. What Jesus did for me that day was change my “want to.” I no longer wanted to get high. Praise God! That’s a miracle! My life Scripture is Psalm 40:1-3, “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord” (NLT).
Today I’m an ordained minister, associate pastor of a church, and WV State Representative for Celebrate Recovery. I share my experiences to let others know there is hope. Is marijuana a gateway drug? It was for me! Does everyone who smokes pot become a junkie? No. But every junkie I’ve ever known started out smoking marijuana. For me, marijuana led me down a dark hole that only God’s love and grace could bring me out of. Just remember, no matter if it’s marijuana or heroin—there is hope.
Thank you for letting me share.