Allen, 61, used and abused drugs and alcohol for most of his life. “I started when I was 13,” he said. “We would make model airplanes and cars and I started sniffing that glue.” From there, he moved on to alcohol, marijuana and harder drugs. “The low point came when I lost my wife. She left me,” he said. “I lost my $150,000 home, lost a $21 [per hour] job and my 2016 Denali truck.”
He was always chasing his next high. He was on the streets. He wasn’t eating and he wore the same clothes for several days. He grew ill. He couldn’t breathe and doctors told him he had an infection in his lungs, caused by smoking crack cocaine and cigars. He knew he needed help.
A couple of years ago, he enrolled in Adult & Teen Challenge Ohio Valley’s 30-day program, seeking help for his addiction. “But I got complacent,” he said, explaining that he started using again. Then a year ago, he enrolled in ATCOV’s long-term program. He committed. He followed the program and he did the work. Now he’s clean, has a stronger relationship with God and will graduate July 15. “It makes me feel beautiful,” Allen said. “I’m proud of myself.”
His life hasn’t been easy. Several years ago, he got shot with a 12-gauge shotgun, the pellets lodged near his heart. “I ended up retaliating and doing 15 years, going to the penitentiary,” Allen recalled. “When I came home [in 1999], I thought I was Superman and I got to selling dope, bragging that I’d been in the joint, had been shot with a 12-gauge.” It spiraled from there.
In 2003, Allen’s 21-year-old son looked at his father, told him he loved him, shot himself in the head and died. “That triggered me,” he said. He got back into drugs, chasing the next fix to salve the pain. “But the glory of it all is I’ve overcome all of that,” Allen said.
He draws inspiration from Matthew 6:33: “’But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.’ And that’s what He’s been doing,” Allen said.
Allen’s the embodiment of ATCOV’s mission to rebuild lives, restore families and reclaim our community. “I’m living proof they restore, they help you. They teach you how to do it, first of all,” Allen said. “You’ve got to want it for yourself, to restore yourself so that’s what I did.”