Watching Andre stride confidently through the halls of The Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center, it’s difficult to imagine that just a year ago he’d hit rock bottom after a lifelong struggle with addiction.
Andre and his younger brother had been raised by their aunt and uncle after the passing of their mother. She’d feared leaving her children in the care of their abusive biological father, but trusted her sister to raise her young boys into strong and loving men. Andre’s new home was overflowing with love for family and for Christ, but at age 16 he turned to alcohol and drugs to help him cope with the scarring memories of his earliest years.
“I wasn’t raised around it, but there was something in me that was broken,” he explains. “Drinking and doing drugs just took that away. My biological father, besides physically abusing us, also molested us. My family didn’t know anything about it. My way of coping with it was with drugs.”
For more than 40 years he struggled with addiction, before finally seeking help in 2012. The program helped Andre get sober, but his recovery never felt complete. Then his aunt, the woman who had saved him both physically and spiritually, passed away just after Christmas 2015. Andre’s life quickly crumbled as his grief turned to anger.
“I was getting mad, mad at the Lord, mad at the world,” Andre recalls, thinking back on the dark days leading up to and following his aunt’s passing. “I said, ‘I don’t care, I’m getting high. I’ve earned it.’ I was just mad. After four years of being sober, in two weekends I had lost everything. My desire was to do enough drugs to take my life. That’s just how broken I was.”
Left with nothing, not even his faith, Andre walked into The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center, a broken and exhausted man. There he discovered something he’d thought was lost forever: hope.
“Everything I needed was here,” Andre points out. “Not just help with my addiction, but I’ve got help with grief counseling, I’ve got help with my childhood abuse, and I’ve shared stuff about my childhood abuse that I’ve never even said out loud. Never. But I told it here.”
Andre discovered that faith way the key component missing from his previous recovery attempt. As his faith grew stronger, so did his ability to understand and conquer his addictions.
“I’d never been to a church service before where most of the congregation are recovering addicts. I’ve never experienced that before, being in a place where we fellowship and we have church and that’s just as important as recovery. To have clergy here – that made all the difference in the world to me.”
Today, Andre has taken on a leadership role at the Harbor Light Center, helping newcomers adjust to the recovery program and singing with the worship band during Sunday services.
“What I want most out of this is to live a life that is grateful for this opportunity, because I know what a blessing this is,” Andre says. “I know that this is one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. What I want is to continue living a sober life and to continue to show other people that this can be done. It’s not hard to live this way, but you’ve got to want it. Really my biggest desire is to show God and to show all the people involved here – not just the other residents, but the staff – that their time with me is not in vain.”
Every day, Andre continues his journey of recovery, thanks to the support of donors like you who have faith in second chances and hope in your hearts.