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Angry Addict Finally Faces God

Joel could forget about his family troubles when he used drugs, but his addiction eventually consumed his life. His family tried to pull him out of his lifestyle, and Joel finally realized what was truly the root of his problem. Read Transcript

My ribs are showing.

My whole bottom jaw is sucked in.

I don't even want to use the bathroom

and ever look in the mirror.

I'm not going to look in the mirror at myself.

You never look in the mirror.

The mirror tells the tale.

No one looks in the mirror, no one.

NARRATOR: Joel's addiction took him to the depths of despair,

living in a crack house.

His painful journey began as a child,

when his parents divorced.

JOEL: There was more peace in the woods

with my dogs than anything I'm going to find in that house.

And so I learned to get comfortable with being

alone and not trying to put a whole lot of reliability

on other people's affection, love, and care,

because I just learned to stop trusting it.

NARRATOR: Joel stayed with his mother, who

suffered from mental illness.

Because she was a Christian, he blamed God for her inability

to love and care for him.

JOEL: For days, she would sit at her kitchen table and not move,

you know, not eating, not taking care of her hygiene--

complete catatonia.

My attempts to be heard or to feel and receive love

from my mother--

she was incapable of giving it.

NARRATOR: He covered his emotional turmoil

by smoking pot, a habit he started when

he was just eight years old.

And what it immediately did is took

all that emotional dysregulation and angst and sadness.

And I went, boop, and I went, wow, there is a reason to live.

And so I loved it.

I was smoking marijuana three times a day, before,

during, and after school.

And the next thing you know, it was just a lifestyle.

It was just what I did to not really have to feel.

I don't want to get back to feeling.

If I start feeling, what am I do with all that?

NARRATOR: When Joel was in his '20s,

marijuana became the gateway to harder drugs.

All it took was one time.

I had roommates that did crack cocaine.

I said, I'll try it And that's when the whirlwind started.

Once the crack came, it was almost overnight

that this is what is now going to start running the show.

NARRATOR: His new addiction consumed every part

of his life and soul.

Going to that horrible cycle of hustling, copping,

getting high, and trying to avoid the consequences.

Hustling, copping, getting it all day long.

And the only time you're going to go to sleep

is when you are completely devastated,

and all your own resources-- you can't get anymore.

The dealer is out, and there's no dealers available,

or you've ripped off everything from anybody

you can steal from that day.

You don't believe for good things.

You don't believe that hope is on the horizon.

Emotional bankruptcy-- my love tank was empty.

There was no one filling that.

Every relationship I was in, I was in it

to what I could get out of it.

I'm not going to deliver you my heart

and have you be a bad steward of my heart again.

No one's evidenced they're a good steward.

NARRATOR: Joel worked off and on to support his habit,

but after 20 years of addiction, he moved into a crack house

and started running drugs.

A crack house culture is me trying

to help you find your wallet, and it's in my back pocket.

That's how it works in a crack house.

I was always convinced the police were coming.

I'd be looking out the window.

I'd be quiet.

I'd freeze and not make any movement.

Total devastation, total, total isolation.

I'm sitting there saying to myself,

I know I'm not supposed to be-- why am I here?

Am I here to die?

Is that why I've come here?

You're looking up at nothing, because you believe in nothing.

I don't have any source.

I don't believe in anything.

And so I'm-- so no matter where I'm looking,

and I'm asking these questions into this, like, you know,

ethereal place where there's not going to be any answers,

and realizing, I think I'm here to die.

Death's a relief.

We talk about overdosing and having a heart attack smoking


And I would think to myself, that's the resolve.

NARRATOR: In desperation, his family made one last attempt

to pull him out.

Man, they just kept calling.

And then finally, my sister did a rescue mission.

And she rounded up friends of mine and said,

we're coming to get you.

NARRATOR: They took him to Teen Challenge, a Christian recovery

program for drug addicts.

A few weeks into the program, Joel

poured out his anger at God.

I said, I don't know who you are, and I cursed him out--

I won't get into the expletives--

and shook a fist at him with all the where-where-yous.

Were you"s.

And there was a weird part of me that felt

like somebody was listening.

I had never heard anybody listening.

And the first thing I heard God saying,

I was there always with you in all of it.

I was right by your side.

Matter of fact, I sustained you for a day such as this.

By the end of it, I was on the floor

in a pool of tears, body-surfing on those tears

all the way to the feet of Jesus,

and I've never turned back.

NARRATOR: Joel surrendered his life to Christ

and completed rehabilitation.

Sober for 13 years, he is now married

and completing a doctorate in addiction counseling.

He works with Teen Challenge, helping

others find wholeness and restoration

through Jesus Christ.

But most of all, he is grateful for a healed heart

that has learned to trust God.

It was an exchange of identities,

and it was nothing less than supernatural.

There's a knowing about who I am as a human being

I've never had.

I could be vulnerable with God.

I could have Him--

He's in the room wherever I go, sometimes in feeling,

but always in knowing.

And I never had that.

I never had a knowing of something caring for me.

Every relationship we've ever been in

takes a certain level of risk.

But entering into the risk with Jesus and finding out

there was none--

is there a word?

There's never a risk.

He promises to never leave me or forsake me.


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