Hank is 25 years old and came to Guiding Light Recovery in May, 2020 after finally having enough of living with his addiction. “I was addicted to heroin and meth. I was living in dope houses. I was broken…I was totally broken. I didn’t know who I was anymore.” Hank’s story is familiar to many that come through our doors when the pain of living a life dictated by the timetables of day-in and day-out drug addiction become too great to bear. He had tried getting sober many times before, and occasionally saw brief glimpses of a light at the end of the tunnel. But he inevitably would always be pulled back down into the darkness that he was constantly grasping so hard to escape from.
Hank described the moment he hit rock bottom, the darkest time of his life, sitting alone on the curb outside of a homeless shelter that he had just been kicked out of. “I was staying at the Holland Mission. I remember sitting outside and feeling so alone and lost. I couldn’t help but keep thinking about how sick I was of living the way I was, you know, using drugs…it seemed like I just kept crawling my way out, getting a car, getting an apartment, and then losing it all and falling back to living in a shelter again. The loneliness I felt outside of that mission was something I had never felt before…I think that was true desperation.”
It was at that moment that he decided to call Guiding Light and was able to talk to a staff member who recommended he go to a medical detox facility to safely withdraw from the heroin in his system. Unfortunately, it was at this time that Guiding Light had to stop accepting new intakes for the Recovery and Back to Work programs. We had recently loaned our facility at 255 Division Avenue to the Kent County Health Department for use as an Isolation Center for homeless individuals afflicted with COVID-19.
Hank had to tough it out for two more months, which he was able to stay sober for with the support of his family and friends (some of which had gone through Guiding Light Recovery themselves). Hank was the first in line when the program began accepting intakes again on May 7th. He was incredibly relieved when he got a phone call from Program Director Brian Elve to come in and “knew from then on my life was going to be a whole lot different.”
Today, Hank has a remarkably high chance of successfully putting the lessons he has learned here into action and living a new, real, honest life as a sober and contributing member of the community again. 77% of the men that come through Guiding Light Recovery and move to Iron House, our sober living community in Kentwood, achieve long-term sobriety. This is in stark contrast to a 2007 study conducted by the social-research journal, Evaluation Review, showing that only 33% of men who attempt to get sober are able to maintain it for over a year.1
Hank’s story is a testimony to the incredibly powerful and transformative work that takes place at Guiding Light. “This place saves lives, I’ve seen it happen to the people around me,” he said. Hank’s case is a just another example that for himself, and countless others like him that have come through our doors; Guiding Light really does work and really does save lives. His is a story of truly being brought out of the darkness and back into the light. All of this wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of our donors, volunteers, and supporters. From all of us, thank you for making it possible to save men like Hank, you truly are making a difference.
THIS MEANS THAT ANYONE WHO BELONGS TO CHRIST HAS BECOME A NEW PERSON. THE OLD LIFE IS GONE; A NEW LIFE HAS BEGUN!
2 CORINTHIANS 5:17