I think it’s time to tell James’ story, hoping it helps others struggling with addiction. I can only tell this story from what I know. This is one man’s life long journey – a battle for his life.
James is now 65 days clean and sober except for cigs which he is working on.
James is coming off 35+ years of alcohol and pot addiction. In a chain of events that I cannot disclose publicly, he finally reached the bottom in November 2020.
He cried out for help. I want to be careful here because I don’t want to turn this into “look at what I did for my brother.” I am not the one who gets the glory – it is the Lord God.
James cried out at his lowest point and called me begging for help one evening back in November.
Admittedly due to his addictions, I was very hesitant. ‘Why now? Is it real? We don’t have much of a relationship. More stress for me? Come on, man!’
I waited a few days, and he called again. “Net, I need help!”
Two times now, the same cry. At the same time, our mother got a call from someone else telling her he needed help.
Now the two of us have come together and agreed this is serious, and he really does need help.
I started to feel the Lord’s urging that I was to find him a rehab place, but where, how much, how long, how do we pay? Rehab facilities are expensive when there’s no insurance.
I began searching for something I knew very little about. I asked the Lord to show me, open doors, teach me, and help me. Admittedly I looked when I had time, feeling the weight of it all in between work and raising a toddler. Surely this would be a temporary want.
Again a third time, he called very upset, “Net, I told you, I need help!!!” I could hear the urgency in his voice this time as we talked. I could barely understand what he was saying, but what I understood was he was drinking heavily, barely eating, and drinking very little other fluids. He was vomiting regularly and living on very little sleep.
He had stopped working for weeks. He had daily panic attacks, and his vision was going. Unknown to me, he had been on this path for almost two weeks. Alone and afraid, he was falling. His only comfort was whiskey, or so he thought. But the Lord was about to do a great thing!
I told him I was trying, but it wasn’t easy to find places we could afford and get him to, but I would keep looking. ‘Hold on,’ I said, and I hung up the phone.
Now it became urgent for me, and I started diligently searching everywhere. I sensed the Holy Spirit was telling me it was time. No more casually searching.
My mom and I talked, and we came up with a plan on how to pay. I am so thankful she was willing and able to do this for her adult child. I know that it is not the case for everyone. Oh, how I wish it were.
Through many phone calls all over the country, I finally found a place in South Florida where we used to live. It looked good online, was in our price range, and I could get him there. He was a good distance from me, so it would be a lot of driving for me, but my brother was worth it.
That night I went to sleep with this place in my prayers. Early the next morning, as I lay in bed praying, I sensed the Holy Spirit say, “check the reviews.” I got up and checked the reviews, and they were bad. I hadn’t thought of checking reviews from multiple sources. I was discouraged because I had to start over.
This time I typed in different search terms, and a list of rehabs came up. Sadly, my friends, rehabs are all over the country, and almost all I contacted had space to take addicts. No waiting, move right in. Sad that they have openings now when for years, many were placed on waiting lists. That wasn’t the case now. It’s probably because of Covid. As I think of that truth, I think of all those who are battling addictions and depression alone because they have no insurance and no money saved up.
I scrolled down the list and stopped at one that piqued my interest. The chat button popped up, and I clicked it. A guy named Justin popped on, and we started talking.
“I need a dual diagnosis, alcohol, and drugs, need to smoke cigs on-site, remote location, smaller facility, affordable, mental health… what you got?”
“We have all that, and we cap at 18 men only. Here’s the cost.”
“Great! Listen, I am trying to help my brother and…l.”
I told him the whole story.
He was so supportive, and he counseled me on the next steps. He had been there, done that, and knew our pain, and he knew what James was going through. He had compassion for our situation. I didn’t feel like he was trying to sell me.
I told him I would get back to him. I sensed the Holy Spirit again telling me to check the reviews. I did, and they were great!!
- Within range
- Dual diagnosis
- Men only- no distractions
- Cigs allowed
- Availability now
- Great reviews
- Experienced therapists
I called mom and told her I found a better place than the day before. We agreed this was it.
I called and texted James – no answer. I knew time was running out, but I just asked the Lord for strength and patience as I waited. I am usually impatient by nature. I am always learning.
As each hour passed, I became more nervous. Was he still alive? I had no way of checking at the time.
I waited and kept talking to the Lord as I waited.
Hours later, I got a text. James called me, and I told him I found a place and I could leave now to come to get him IF, and that is a big IF he was ready!
Addicts have to be ready to take the step because it is a HUGE step for addicts. It’s not easy leaving the life they have known for so long.
I told him it had everything he asked for. I was willing to drive and bring him, but I wouldn’t come until he gave the word.
“Net, let’s not do it today; let’s do it tomorrow.,”
I said ok and hung up.
My heart sunk, but I knew I tried. I did my part. I found the place as he asked. It was now up to him. How bad did he want it? Was he ready?
In the meantime, Justin called me. I told him what happened and he told me to wait. It had to be his decision.
Knowing that your loved one is battling in the darkness alone in his trailer against everything he knew and the alcohol wanting his life is hard to sit by and wait.
I have more empathy now for parents who watch their children struggle through addictions. I understand better how spouses feel watching their loved ones battle addictions. It’s not easy, and I don’t say that to make addicts feel guilty, but to acknowledge I understand now how difficult it has been for James all these years.
He was caught in the enemy’s trap and didn’t see a way out. But can I tell you something? There is hope!
The next 18 hours felt like years. I went about my day and waited anxiously for 10 am. That seemed to be the time James would reach out. But 10 came and went.
At 1 o’clock on December 3, 2020, my phone rang, and it was my brother.
“Net, I am ready. Come get me and take me to the rehab. I’m ready for a change. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t even grab the doorknob without having panic attacks. I didn’t sleep all night. I should have gone yesterday when you first offered. Please, Net, come get me.”
That’s what I needed to go. I called a dear friend who knew how to drive a stick shift pickup truck, and she was available and willing – talk about a blessing. She drove an hour to my house, parked, and we rode together for almost 3 hours to get James.
When we arrived, he came out of his trailer, and I saw someone who was legit scared, face beat red, and on his last leg. We hugged, and he cried. I told him it would be alright. I was there, and I would get him to the rehab place. I knew at that moment, had I not listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I would have lived with regrets for the rest of my life.
I stayed calm and strong, not shedding a tear, just trying to reassure him and get his things together.
He grabbed a few things, and we left.
My dear friend, who I am so grateful for, drove his truck back to my house and then drove home as I drove James to rehab for the next several hours.
On the trip there, he shared with me some of the battles. He regretted going through hell another night. He wished he had said yes the day before. About an hour into the trip, he finally started to settle down, and I just listened as he talked. He had questions, but I couldn’t answer them all.
When we finally arrived at the facility, it was dark, and I will never forget what he said as we drove down the dirt road to get there, “You paid $$ for this?!?”
“Yep, we did. Well, actually not me, but yeah. Bro, you asked for a remote location!”
It was dark, and a few lights lit up two small buildings back in the woods.
We pulled in and could barely see where we were going. We walked the property looking for life. We couldn’t find any, and then a car pulled in, and it was the nurse for after-hours check-in. Justin had already arranged for staff to be there to admit him.
We walked in and dropped his things for check-in. They would go through it all.
They checked his blood pressure, and it was 184/126. Keep in mind that was hours after I picked him up. Can you imagine what it was in his trailer?
I said my goodbyes, hugged his neck, and left.
The whole way home, I thanked the Lord for what he had done. I was so grateful to God that he loves us so much, even in our struggles. My brother believed in the Lord, but his life was not reflecting it.
Through the Holy Spirit, I was so thankful the Lord kept pressing on me the urgency of the matter through James’s calls and texts. Had I ignored them, had I told myself that our relationship was so fragmented, why bother? Had I ignored that still small voice, there’s a real possibility my brother would be dead today.
From a medical review, we learned he was on death’s door – a few points away from organ shutdown. He now has to manage type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure along with liver issues. It hit home for me even more so how important a relationship with the Lord is for me and how much the Lord loves James and me even in our brokenness.
Eventually, with the help of my dear friend again and another dear friend, both of whom I met through church, together we cleaned out his trailer and moved his stuff into storage.
I will always be grateful for their willingness to drive so far and help clean up someone else’s life.
I am thankful for all the prayers I received from friends and family as they prayed many times for unspoken prayers for me. My family and my prayer village are awesome. I would have never known my friends if I hadn’t joined their church. They mean a lot to me more than I show.
When we arrived at his trailer, and I went inside and got a good look around. I could see better what was happening from a spiritual perspective.
When battling anything, it is best to throw out anything that looks or tastes evil. It is hard to battle against the enemy when you are surrounded by it.
It is hard to see the promises of God in the Bible sitting on the table and the prayer sign on the wall when you are surrounded by drug paraphernalia, alcohol, and evil-looking idols.
Get it out!! Start by decluttering anything, not of the Lord. Get rid of the stuff you know is not pleasing to Him.
Get into that Bible sitting recklessly on your table collecting dust. Open up the pages and read the promises of God. He loves you very much!
I saw the battle first hand between good and evil in that trailer. I knew James wasn’t strong enough to win on his own, and it showed me why he wasn’t winning. I saw the life he had been leading for over 35 years. He was never going to win on his own. He needed the Lord’s help, and he cried out to the Lord in his despair, and the Lord answered him.
The Lord has been waiting for James to call him for help – not the bottle, not friends, not drugs, but God!
All those years of reading my posts about how much I love Jesus didn’t help him until he was ready to call on the Lord himself and trust him with his life.
The battles with the enemy, Satan, are very real, and you can’t win them without the Lord. We live in a world managed by the enemy. The Lord is our only hope here.
We threw away every evil thing. All alcohol-related bottles, glasses, pictures, clothes, and drug stuff. We spent hours in that trailer, and we prayed as we were cleaning. James was so desperate for help, he didn’t care anymore what his sister would see, and I saw a lot.
Within a matter of hours, we had it boxed up, cleaned up, loaded, and ready to go. We closed the door on that life he was living.
As I locked the door for the last time, I said goodbye to the old James and prayed that guy would never return. Not there, not that city, not that life.
I want to thank Justin at Serenity Springs and his staff for all they have done to help James. I especially want to thank Trisha, his therapist, who by the grace of God was exactly who James needed – a no-nonsense tough chick who calls you on your bull. She put it to him straight and was a great help to me. I am also thankful for Kim, who always gave me good advice on how to help him correctly.
I thank my mom and dad for being willing to help financially. Without them, it would be a different story. Their willingness to sacrifice and listen to the Lord is seen in his sobriety today.
Lastly, I bet you thought this would never end. Thank the Lord for showing me, teaching me, leading me, and pressing me through this process. I love the Lord with all my heart, and it’s events like this in my life as to why my heart will always love the Lord. He has shown me time and time again over the last 20+ years he is real, he loves me, and he will provide for me in ways I will never comprehend. His mercy and grace are new for me every day.
It takes courage and strength, especially now, to fight the battles that wage on in our head and heart, but if we call on the Lord with a sincere heart, and we diligently seek him, he will answer and show himself to you too.
God loves you, and he loves me. Had I not put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and joined a church, and learned to live my life daily for the Lord, I wouldn’t be telling you this now. This would be a very different story for our family.
I realize not all stories end this way, no matter how close you are to the Lord. I don’t pretend to understand why; only God knows what awaited your loved one. But I believe he sees your tears, and he knows, and he will continue to provide you with comfort and strength.
Only the Lord knows what James will do next. I will not fear or worry about him falling. James now knows the truth about his addictions. He has seen a new life.
He has battled the demons of anger, pain, and poor decisions of his past that kept him in bondage and separated from his family. He has dealt with the abuses as a child. It is now up to him to pursue a different life and be happy for the first time in a very long, long time.
We often find that alcohol and drugs are masking deep wounds and memories we can’t seem to forget. Until those are dealt with, as was in James’ case, it’s difficult to get free. It’s as if a big chain is around your neck with a padlock, and it goes with you everywhere. That lock represents strongholds in your life. After a while, the chains get heavy, and you give up.
It’s scary to deal with the past. I know it was for him, but once he faced it with help from experienced therapists, he was able to face his past and present hurts and put them behind him.
James had zero coping skills going into this, and what he did have, weren’t the right coping skills. He has been taught how to process stuff, and he will have to study those coping skills often. Will he be perfect? No. It’s going to take a lot of time, but I believe in him. He took a huge step in asking for help. That says something about his fighting spirit.
I will do my best to support him without falling into enabling him. But I trust the Lord knows better than me anyway, and as long as James puts the Lord first, he will no longer feel like he is fighting those battles on his own. Courageously he has taken the next step into a sober living house and is surrounded by guys just like him that he knows from the facility—another blessing.
If you are struggling with addictions of any kind, call on the Lord and get help. Do not delay because you don’t know how long it will be before the help comes. Hang on and seek the Lord!
James, you can do this! I am proud of you, brother! You have over 100 people praying for you! Stay the course and enjoy this new life to the fullest seeking the Lord daily and working hard to stay clean. If you do, you will continue to see the goodness of the Lord in your life.
But watch out because the enemy will try his hardest to get you back! Stand firm in the Lord!!
Glory to God for a great work He hath done!
The pic on the left from a few years ago. The pic on the right from Sunday, January 31, 2021.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received; that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,”