The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


Chip LaPole: Looking Up At The Bottom

By Rod Thomas
The 700 Club

CBN.comChip LaPole was a successful engineer, but what drove him was not the idea of making better automotive parts – it was cocaine. For years, he hid his drug problem. “I’d bring it to work with me and actually do drugs while I was at work. It was so that I could stay awake and I could stay alert. It got to the point where I couldn’t function well without it,” he remembers.

Chip’s father left the family when Chip was just a child. “I had actually hatred in my mind and in my heart for him. When I would get high on the marijuana or get loaded on alcohol, and ultimately on cocaine, it would take away the pain from that early childhood experience,” Chip recalls.

In college, Chip’s life was centered around parties, sex and getting high. “I was always the guy that you could see out at the clubs that had a couple hundred bucks in his pocket and a couple grams of cocaine in his pocket.”

By the time Chip got out of school and started working, he was a functional addict. One night at a bar he met Tonette. “I was seeking something more than the one-night-stand type relationships that I had for so many years. I started to care about her so much that I just felt like I wanted to get married to do the right thing,” he remembers. Chip asked Tonette to marry him, and thought about leaving his party lifestyle to become a responsible husband. Instead, he got Tonette hooked on cocaine. “I felt an artificial partnership, almost like now I was sharing everything with her and that made me feel good, and in reality that’s really what started the demise of our relationship, and ultimately, her life.”

Despite their lifestyle, Tonette wanted to have the wedding in her childhood church; but the pastor insisted they go through marriage counseling before the wedding. By then, Chip was ready to talk about where his life was going. “I said, ‘Well, pastor Hal, I really – I don’t care so much about us getting married as I do about getting my life right with God.’ Here I was crying out to this man saying, ‘I want to know the Lord, rescue me.’ The very next day I went to meet with him October 16th, 1997, at about six o’clock; and at 6:22 p.m. I gave my life to the Lord.” 

Chip and Tonette married, and they both stopped using coke and drinking alcohol. All was well, until three years later when they took a trip to Cancun, Mexico. “I thought to myself, ‘You know what? This wouldn’t be a big deal; we could just have one drink.’ We had one margarita and then that led to a second margarita and a third margarita and then we were doing tequila shots and got totally, totally drunk. She looked at me and said, ‘You know what?  A couple lines of cocaine would be really great right now.’ I said, ‘yeah, I’ll bet you I can find it.’ Two hours later we were sitting in the motel room doing cocaine.” 

That decision opened a door that should have stayed closed, because when they got home they went back to using cocaine. “I’m trying to hold my job down and doing cocaine sometimes without any sleep the next day going to work. I realized I was on a self-destruct path.”

For the next two years, the couple stayed high and they fought constantly. One day, after an argument Chip stormed out of the house, and checked into a motel. “I told her that I just couldn’t take it anymore, and she was begging me to come home and I said, ‘No, I can’t come home.’”

Chip took a couple of days to cool off, and went home. “I walked through the house and I yelled, ‘Tonette, Tonette,’ and I started walking up the stairs and there was stuff written on the mirrors with lipstick. And I thought, ‘this was crazy.’  I didn’t even take time to read it, I just went right back down. I thought, ‘I got to see if her car’s here.’ and I opened up the garage door and her car was there and the garage smelled real smoky and I looked in the car and I could see her slumped over in the car and I was yelling ‘Tonette, Tonette.’  and her eyes were wide opened and she didn’t respond to me.” Chip remembers. 

After his wife’s suicide, Chip was wracked with guilt. His drug addiction consumed him. Eventually, he lost everything. “I started staying at homeless shelters. I literally, when the money ran out, ended up walking the streets homeless and addicted.” Even though he struggled for years with his cocaine habit, Chip never felt abandoned by God. “I believed that the Lord loved me. I never blamed Him for my circumstances; I just kept crying out to Him, number one, that I wanted to be free.”

Time after time, Chip went through the cycle of getting on his feet, and falling back into his old habit; but one day, the cycle was broken. “I was driving down the road and I went to put the crack cocaine into my pipe and to lift it to my mouth with a lighter and I looked in the rear view mirror and I heard this as clear as a bell, ‘You don’t need that.’ I took that pipe and I threw it out the window, and I took the cocaine and I threw it out the window.”

That day, Chip was set free from a 30 year addiction. “Wow!!! It felt like I came home, like I was in this place that I didn’t know where I was, but now I’m home. And that my life was going to count for something. I knew it was. I knew that God would use it and I knew I was free.

Today Chip helps recovering drug addicts stay free through the power of God’s love. “When I look back at my life I truly believe that my life is the story of the prodigal son. The Lord blessed him with so much, and he went out and he squandered it and yet because of God’s unconditional love and fatherly nature his father embraces him and loves him back to life. That’s my daddy. That’s my father.”

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