“Having an open line of communication with God [saves me from myself], knowing that if He forgives me I can forgive myself.” – David,Recovery Advocate
Addiction is a powerful force, and once it takes hold, it quickly consumes your life. It is a powerful sin that can take hold of even the strongest of Christians – just ask Rickey, a recovering addict, and pastor. We spoke with him about his battle back from addiction, and how his faith in God led him back to the light.
Rickey was called to preach when he was just 22 years old. He spent 14 years as a youth pastor and was also an assistant pastor. His relationship with God was unwavering, and he preached to others about God’s unending love and forgiveness. Little did he know, he would one day be asking for the ultimate gift of forgiveness for himself.
“I never thought in my life that I would have any problem with any kind of drug or anything,” Rickey said.
When he went in for surgery to repair damage to his shoulder, he expected to recover and return to preaching God’s word, but he ended up having three major surgeries over the course of four years. With each surgery came a prescription and an increased desire for more.
“Each time I underwent surgery, I was prescribed painkillers,” Rickey said. “The doctors gave me Lortab after my surgeries to help with the pain, and they helped — for a while. And then I kept needing more and more.”
A Quest for Even More
Doctors obliged his requests for pain medication for a while, but Rickey would blow through a month’s supply of pills in a matter of days.
“But then I’d need more. So, I started asking for a few pills here and there from friends, people I knew at church. At first, I was just asking. I was lying about why I wanted them. I’d get OxyContin, Percocet, just any kind of painkiller,” Rickey said. “I was lying to my wife, my family, my friends, my church. I completely changed my personality. I was doing things I never could have imagined I would do, being someone I never thought I’d be.”
Rickey became a different person, stealing from those that trusted him the most. Addiction clouded his mind, putting a strain on his relationship with God, and caused him to lose himself in the process.
The Downward Spiral
“One morning while I was at home, I looked in the mirror and said to myself, ‘What have you become, Rickey?’ I didn’t recognize myself. I hated myself and who I was,” Rickey said.
Rickey desperately tried to get clean, but the withdrawals were too much. God was no longer the center of his life – addiction was – and he landed in jail. His saving grace came when he was furloughed into a Christian-based treatment center and given the chance he so desperately needed.
Finding Freedom in God’s Grace
“I had an open mind and an open heart. I knew I had to give it 100 percent – and I was ready for it. I was ready for my life to change, and I was ready to get my life back to the freedom I once had,” Rickey said.
“While I was there, I came to better understand grace, what grace is and how it works. Even though I had been serving God for 30 years as a pastor, I really felt like I was found again, and learned that He still loved me,” Rickey said. “Despite everything, all of the guilt, all of the people I hurt, all of the wrong I had done, He still loved me.”
For Rickey, the biggest lesson he learned is that addiction doesn’t have to win. You can beat it.
[Tweet “Addiction doesn’t have to win. You can beat it.”]
“I’ve always heard, ‘Once an addict, always an addict.’ It’s just not true,” Rickey said. “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.”
Constance Ray started Recoverywell.org with the goal of creating a safe place for people to share how addiction has affected them, whether they are combating it themselves or watching someone they care about work to overcome it. The goal is to share stories of hope from survivors who know that the fight against addiction is one worth having because no matter how it affects you, life can get better.