Addiction Has Many Faces

By the grace of God I am what I am ~ 1 Corinthians 15:10

Addiction has many faces. It will destroy you if you let it. I grew up in a family of addiction and as a result I despised drugs/alcohol. At the age of nineteen I put my mother in treatment and was awarded custody of my sister. Life looked pretty good from the “outside looking in” for my husband and I. In reality, my life was falling apart. At the age of twenty-one I filed for a divorce. We fought over our children and I lost custody of them to their father. I felt like they had been wrongfully taken from me and the pain of living without them was unbearable. I saw a psychiatrist who prescribed me Xanax.

Rhonda Nickell

This is where life gets a little hazy for me. I can’t tell you much about the last fifteen years but I can tell you that it is by the grace of God I am still alive. Doing time became the normal thing for me. If I wasn’t locked up somewhere I was on the run from the police. There’s no future in being on the run and it’s no way to live. Criminal activity was my life. I lost everyone and everything I had ever cared about. Addiction took any shred of who I was and it had taken over my life. I lost any purpose, peace, or hope I ever had. I was stubborn, hard headed and I had no respect for any type of authority. I did things my way, regardless of the consequences. I have been on every drug you can imagine at one time in my life or another.

Being on the streets in the roughest neighborhoods, fighting all my life and any other crazy situation you can imagine was the normal for me. I didn’t think there was a way out. I was a criminal and I had ruined my life. My mom was always there for me through all the hard times in my life. I thought nothing could break me but her death did. She passed away in 2015 and I went back to jail. I was lost and I knew I was going away for a long time again but God had a different plan for my life.

The judge offered me treatment and for the first time in my life I was glad. I went to Karen’s Place on January 19, 2016, and it was the first day of the rest of my life. I was broken and ready to hear about a new way to live. It took me awhile, but I gained a personal relationship with God and began to heal some. God gave me peace, joy, love and all the things I never had. Addiction Recovery Care CEO Tim Robinson came to visit one day and he talked about clients staying on and working with the company.

See, I was getting clean, but I thought that I had done too much damage. Finding out that regardless of my past, Addiction Recovery Care would hire me was life changing. I found direction and most of all, I found purpose. Through the right people being placed in my life at the right time by God I have been clean nine and a half months now. I have built a solid foundation for my recovery. I let God direct my path and ask him daily to do his will in my life.

Recovery is a process of change and I had to reprogram my mind daily. The old me had to die because the both of us could not exist together. Through God today I have a relationship with my nineteen year old daughter. My grand-daughter knows who I am and thanks to God she won’t have to grow up without me. I still haven’t gotten custody of my five-year old son back, but I’m leaving that situation in God’s hands. I don’t have everything I want but I have everything I need. The rest is still a work in progress.

It took time to do the damage to my life and it will take time to repair it. I have people who love and care about me. I get invited to things today. I have an internship and I’m in school. These are things that I never thought were possible for someone like me. I am grateful for the smallest things today. Piece by piece God is restoring things and helping me to become the woman my mom always wanted me to be. I know she is with me and I fight this battle for all my family and friends who are still in active addiction so that they can see there is another way of life.

Describe your ‘aha’ moment.

My ‘aha’ moment came the night before I went to Karen’s Place after going to my uncle’s funeral. I was on house arrest and waiting to go into treatment the next day, I had decided to cut my bracelet off and go on the run. As I talked to my dad about this he simply looked at me and said, “Gail, Ain’t you tired of running?” At the moment I could see all of the time I had wasted in addiction and at that moment I decided that enough was enough.

Describe the feelings and emotions while in active addiction.

When I was in active addiction I felt hopeless, unworthy and trapped, so I used the drugs to keep me numb from all of the pain.

What is the driving force that keeps you going when times get tough?

God. And then knowing that I have the second chance to be the mom that my kids deserve keeps me going.

Be strong and courageous. DO not be afraid; do not be discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. ~ Joshua 1:9

What obstacles or roadblocks have you encountered along your recovery journey?

Learning to let go of my past and remembering to get out of God’s way and to trust in His path for me.

What is something that you want people who have never struggled with addiction to know?

Addiction is not a choice. Addicts are not bad people. They are people with a problem and there is a solution.

What advice do you have for family members of a person in active addiction?

Addiction is a disease. Pray for your family member instead of giving up. Recovery is possible. Together we do recover.

Closing thoughts?

Recovery isn’t easy but it’s always worth it. Only God can turn your pain from yesterday into the stepping stones for a brighter tomorrow.

Rhonda is a Karen’s Place Graduate. She is an Intake Coordinator along with Intake Trainer and Quality Assurance Specialists. Rhonda is also a certified KY Peer Support Specialists. She spends her time not only speaking life to those looking for treatment but also as a leader to her team.