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April 7, 2018

My name is Johnny Perkins, and I am in long term recovery; my sobriety date is 6-9-2016. I am from Flatwoods, Kentucky and I am 34 years old. I have dedicated over half of my life to addiction/alcoholism. I’ve been locked up on numerous occasions and have been court-ordered to multiple treatment centers. I had no relationship with God, nor did I believe I needed one. I suffered from what the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous refers to as a “spiritual malady.” The beauty of these last few sentences is that they are all past tense. Today, I am in recovery, relationships have been restored, I am engaged, I am spiritually fit, and God directs me on a daily basis. I’m going to tell you a bit about what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now for me.

I grew up spending most of my time at my maternal grandparents’ house doing what most kids around Eastern Kentucky do. We hung out with the neighborhood kids and played sports and went to school. They had us in church every Sunday, Wednesday, vacation Bible school, sleep-ins, anything that had to do with Russell First Christian Church (Bridges now), we were there. We spent most of our time with my grandparents because my parents divorced when I was 6 years old. My father was an alcoholic and wasn’t really around. The time we spent with him he wasn’t really there. When we went to his house on the weekends it was him and his buddies drinking and carrying on. So at a young age, this was what I believed being grown was all about. My mother worked her butt off to support us and my grandparents made sure we always had whatever we needed or wanted. Being raised by grandparents tends to cause someone to be a bit selfish and entitled I might add, especially when you’re the oldest.

Nothing out of the ordinary really happened in my grade school/ middle school years. I think I smoked my first cigarette in 6th grade and didn’t really care for it. The first time I got drunk was in 8th grade and that didn’t do it for me either, plus I had a resentment towards alcohol from being around my dad. Once I got into high school everything changed. I began smoking and drinking in order to hang out with the older kids at school. For whatever reason I did not feel that fitting in with my age group was good enough any longer. I began eating acid, smoking weed, opium, snorting coke, and smoking crack. Whatever the seniors and juniors were doing, I had to be a part of it. This was where I first was exposed to nerve pills and pain pills. Nerve pills landed me my first trip to Riverpark Hospital in Huntington when I was 16. I tried breaking into a house in Bellefonte in broad day after being up eating xanax all weekend and needless to say, I got caught. I learned absolutely nothing while I was in treatment there other than I need to find a different drug. Plus, I was a teenager still, I was just getting started…

I continued hanging around the cool kids and doing whatever I wanted. My best friend at the time introduced me to oxycontin. I had tried other pain pills before but nothing was quite like these. My first experience they made me so sick that a normal person would have probably taken that as a sign to not do it again. My mind works different though and the phenomenon of craving developed immediately. Just my luck, I had family members who were supplying my best friend with the pills. So off we went, selling drugs and taking even more. Around the same time of my addiction taking flight, my grandparents both got incredibly sick. They both were diagnosed with Emphysema and their health rapidly began to suffer. This bothered me but instead of being there for my family, I decided to use it as a reason to use more drugs. But if that wasn’t a good enough reason, I ended up gaining an even better one. My best friend ended up dying in a motorcycle crash a couple of weeks after learning that both of my grandparents were dying. This is where my relationship with God really began to go downhill. I began blaming God for his death. I did not want to look at the fact that my friend was a maniac on his bike and on a head full of drugs. Nope, it was all God’s fault.

A couple of months after him passing away, I lost my grandmother as well. Less than three months after her passing, I lost my grandfather. I was at a point where I had not only lost belief in God but had begun to hate Him. God was a joke to me and anyone that needed God was viewed as weak in my eyes. The only thing I thought that I needed at that point was more oxycontin. I began to truly spiral out of control and did not care if I ever stopped. For whatever reason someone thought it was a good idea to introduce me to the needle and that obviously didn’t help my situation. I began stealing from my own mother, the woman who would have done anything in the world for me. I started selling drugs to my brothers and their friends. I was miserable and wanted some company I suppose. What’s even more amazing is that I was content on being a drug addict the rest of my life and couldn't care less.

I would be typing all day if I talked about each time I’ve been incarcerated or have been in rehab so I’m going to get to the ‘what happened’ part of my story. I had stolen some checks and was charged with 7 counts of forged instrument (7 felonies) and was ordered to 5 years of probation. My probation officer had already let me slide on a couple of occasions and had finally had enough of my nonsense. I had been kicked out of the same rehab on two different occasions so the only option left was for me to sit in jail until I could parole out. After sitting for a few months, my attorney came down to see me and let me know that they had finally reached some sort of agreement with the Commonwealth to let me out to try and do treatment, one last time. The name of the center was Belle Grove Springs. I had to complete the program; phase one was supposed to be around a month, and phase two was supposed to be a couple of months. This sounded great to me because the last rehab I was ordered to, I was supposed to be there for at least six months. Then he informed me that the program was faith based. I immediately was turned off at the idea but anything is better than sitting in jail and it was only going to be for a few months at best.

Once I got out to Belle Grove, I was immediately at peace. I don’t know if it was being so far out in the country or what, but something was different. All of the other clients were very welcoming and pleasant to be around. The interns were a blessing and I am still very close with a couple of them to this day. I got into the rhythm of the program rather quickly and began to be more open-minded to the Higher Power aspect of recovery. Every day in group I would hear these amazing stories of how God has been moving in others’ lives, people who have had the same struggles as me. There is something very humbling about being in a group of grown men and each of them being honest and admitting their defects and shortcomings. One night we had a man come to speak at our house and he shared his testimony of how God restored him to sanity. Towards the end of his message he was asking if any of us wanted to be saved and no one was really moving or acting like they were going to get up. I sure as heck wasn’t going to be the one to get up and go to him. I had already told myself throughout his testimony that I was not ready for God to be a part of my life yet and that I didn’t need what this man was offering. BUT, before I knew it, I was up off of the couch standing there with this man praying for me. I was no longer running the show at that point, God made the decision for me to turn my life over to Him!

Since then I am still with Addiction Recovery Care, I completed the program as well as completed an internship. I was lucky enough to be in the first class of the Peer Support Academy (Trailblazers!). I met my lovely fiancé, Kayla Jane Sargent, through the academy. I have people around me that I know want the best for me and are people I can honestly say that I love. I now work alongside one of the interns that was with me since day one at Belle Grove Springs and at Sanibel as well. I have a purpose and new perspective on life in general. All of the years I wasted thinking that God had turned His back on me, I know now that it was me who turned my back on Him. My mother has her son back and I now have a great relationship with my father. God blessed me with a job where I can use my story to help others find hope. I get to see other men open their eyes and truly see without being behind the fog of addiction. I have my bad days just like anyone else but nothing in this world would drive me back to going back out there. I used to thank ARC for getting me sober but now I thank ARC for bringing me to God.

My aha moment:

There are numerous “Aha” moments I could talk about but the one that sticks out most is when I was reading from the Big Book on the front porch of Sanibel. It was just a typical day in phase two and I was reading ‘Acceptance is the Answer.’ I read that story every couple of weeks but on this day the excerpt on page 417 really stuck out to me. The reading almost jumped out of the book at me. This is something that we would read every morning in our group sessions but for whatever reason it finally made perfect sense. The reading tells me that I have to completely accept life on life’s terms and accept people right where they are at and that nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. This is important because I used to get so upset over people not acting the way that I WANTED them to act, or throw a fit because something didn’t go MY WAY. I have to keep my level of acceptance up because it is directly proportional to my level of serenity.

Feelings and emotions in active addiction:

I have to say that I really didn’t have many emotions while I was using, I didn’t want to feel anything that’s why I kept using. There were days that I didn’t feel like living anymore but that was just until I got my next fix and then life was great...for a couple of hours. I guess I was hopeless, just because I didn’t want to do anything better with my life, I thought being a drug addict was just part of my DNA.

The driving force that keeps me going when times get tough:

What keeps me going is God and humility. I remember what it was like lying in a jail cell detoxing and praying that I could just get some sleep. Praying for my legs to quit going crazy. Praying for my body to quit convulsing and twitching. Praying that if He would get me out of jail this time “I promise I’ll change.”  Thinking about that still gives me chills.

Advice for the addict still struggling:

If you aren’t trying to get into treatment you need to find a meeting and obtain a sponsor. If you are anything like me, you probably need treatment and to give yourself, as well as your family, some time to heal. It is possible! We are worth way more in life than what we have allowed our addictions to convince us of. Pick up some literature, the big book is still one of the most valuable tools I have, the basic text of NA, 12 and 12, It Works, who knows what you could read that might speak to you.

What obstacles or roadblocks have you faced in your recovery?

I’ve not had too many, being court-ordered to treatment was an obstacle at first. I initially told myself that I did not really want recovery and that I was only doing this to suffice the court system and to get my P.O. off of my back. I guess because it was not my initial choice it caused me to be somewhat resentful to the idea of recovery.

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

​Don’t get on Facebook or whatever social media platform you use and talk about addiction being a choice or a disease.

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

Don’t give up. God’s timing is always perfect. Love the addict/alcoholic from a distance. Get into an Al-Anon or Nar-Anon meeting or pick up some of their literature. Learn about the disease of addiction. Pray.

Closing Thoughts:

I just hope that my story helps someone. They say in order to keep what you have that you must give it away. It’s the 12th step of any program to carry the message to the Alcoholic/Addict that still suffers. So I pray that one of my brothers reads my story and it encourages them to take a step back into the right direction. I hope my mother can read this and smile and be proud of her son.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call Addiction Recovery Care at 606.638.0938 or visit them on the web at www.arccenters.com.

 

There is hope. There is help.

 

Comments  

0 #4 Lexi Svingos 2018-04-18 14:20
Thanks for sharing, God bless you and your walk brother!
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0 #3 Justin Greenslate 2018-04-09 23:29
Powerful story cousin, you have finally got this demon under control, just have to keep working at it and being an inspiration for others. Love ya keep going strong.
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0 #2 Zach 2018-04-08 22:57
Hey man. Great story. I know you and you know me. I'm currently in treatment in Lexington. We also have a mutual friend at ARC that I can't say but you should know who it is. Thanks for giving me something that I needed at this time in my recover. Hope. I've been hopeless for a while. Slowly, I'm starting to feel better and I'll always be grateful for ARC and you all that is went through the same things and paid the price before me so that I could have a chance at this disease.
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0 #1 Katrina Hern 2018-04-08 22:38
Today I woke up with a choice! I quite the Serenity pray every morning and many times throughout the day. Recovery isn't all rainbows and butterflies we still have bad days like you said but we now have tools to get us threw those times so we won't use or drink. Your story is a learning tool for the next suffering addict. Funny that this came across my newsfeed today bc today has been a not so good day for this recovering addict but I chose not to use. Your story helped me out on that choice today so thank you!!! I have been clean now coming up on 3 years. Just for today I will remain clean and serene. Thanks for sharing! Keep on keeping on! PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION!
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