Once Addicted, Now in Ministry – Seth’s Celebrate Recovery Story
My name is Seth, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. My struggles with drug and alcohol addiction brought me into recovery.
I grew up in a small town in North Central West Virginia. My family included a loving mother, a father who expected perfection, and a sister with whom I competed for my parents’ attention.
At school, I craved to fit in with everybody. This led to my first experience with drugs and alcohol in 7thgrade. By my freshman year in high school, I was drinking alcohol every weekend and smoking marijuana every day.
When I graduated high school with honors, I was a fully functioning drug addict. I was captain of the soccer team, an all-conference performer in basketball, and a member of student council and honor society. I was also using hard drugs regularly and selling them to classmates to support my habits.
I followed my friends from high school to a small college about 45 minutes north of my hometown. I drank every day for over two years straight, not even missing a major holiday like Christmas or Thanksgiving, and experimented with every drug available to me. Soon after graduating, I discovered what became my drug of choice, OxyContin. It was an instant love affair. It took away my feelings of worthlessness and made me feel like Superman.
After college, I landed a job as a registered nurse at a big university hospital. For the first year, I could keep my ballooning addiction to painkillers and my career separate. This all changed one morning when I entered the elevator after a long and trying night shift. I got on the elevator and made eye contact with another nurse I knew from my addiction. As we were the only two people on the elevator, he pulled out a vial of an IV drug and asked if I wanted to go get messed up. I had my hesitations, as I wasn’t that addicted, but I eventually caved.
Soon I was stealing and using IV medications at work. Now that my addiction and career had intersected, there was nothing I wasn’t willing to do to get my fix. Drugs controlled every second of every day. I couldn’t go to sleep or wake up without them. I started picking up extra shifts at work so I could more easily have access to the drugs I craved.
The next thing I knew, someone filed a complaint against me at work for drooling on a patient while I leaned over to check his breathing. I was called into the nurse manager’s office, where I faced all three of my immediate supervisors. I just about manipulated my way out of the situation — until they inspected my arms. They sent me to employee health for a drug test and then had security escort me out of the building. My emotions were mixed; I felt a sense of relief that I no longer had to lead this double life, but I felt fear at the possibility of living my life without drugs.
I managed to get my nursing license back and found a nursing job. This only lasted for about one year. After losing my nursing license a second time, my addiction went back into full swing. I felt shame and guilt over the person I had become. During my addiction, at least two people I knew of died of an overdose. These were people I had introduced to intravenous drugs, even taking the liberty to do it for them the first couple of times.
I broke every one of the 10 commandments and kept thinking, “How could I ever be forgiven for all the suffering I have caused others? How would I ever make things right? One night, I prayed harder and longer than I had ever tried before. I confessed to God all I had done. I asked him to change my heart and use me for his purpose. Feeling broken, I asked Christ into my life that night as I fell asleep. The next morning, I woke up with the strangest sense of peace I had ever felt. The weight of the world had been taken off my shoulders, and I could breathe again.
Matthew 11:28-30 has become very special to me. It reads, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NIV).
On July 16, 2014, I took my last drink or drug and started attending Celebrate Recovery with a friend from a church I had been visiting. My friend and I immediately signed up for a step study. In that step study, with my sponsor and accountability partners, I worked through my resentments with God. I was able to forgive myself as Christ forgave me. I opened up and shared all the horrible events of my past with my sponsor, and he didn’t judge me. He prayed for me! Principle 6 states, “Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.”
Today I am a ministry leader of a growing Celebrate Recovery group in my community. Working the principles of Celebrate Recovery is helping restore my life. I have a hope and a peace through Jesus Christ that I never thought possible.