It wasn’t Dakota’s choice to come to Adult & Teen Challenge Ohio Valley in 2019, but everything that’s good in his life more than three years later started because of it. Dakota, 29, originally from Tennessee, is clean, newly married, has a new job and maintains a strong relationship with God.
Before enrolling at ATCOV though, he was addicted to pain pills and heroin, living with and essentially living off of his mother. He had tried a number of secular, 30-day rehabilitation facilities before going to ATCOV, but without God at the center, they didn’t work for him. His mother had enough. She found information about ATCOV, believed it might be the solution her son needed and told him to go. Dakota resisted — especially the idea of a year-long program. But he agreed to the 30-day option, completed it, returned home and immediately returned to his old habits.
He stole his father’s credit card and ran up about $1,000 worth of charges. “I knew I had messed up big time because my dad is one of those people you don’t steal from, but I did. I basically ran back to Teen Challenge as a way to hide from the legal issues,” Dakota said. He stuck it out for three months, not really putting effort in. Then his head cleared. He realized he’d essentially wasted seven years of his life addicted to narcotics.
“I ended up calling my mom, telling her I was going to stay for the whole year and she started crying she was so happy,” Dakota said. Dakota graduated in May 2020, worked as an intern for a few months and then ATCOV hired him as floor staff/supervisor. He worked for about a year and a half before leaving for another job.
“I actually met my now-wife while I was in the program,” he said. His wife, Kiah, was working for a man who completed the program and now runs a ministry. She was touring ATCOV with her boss and Dakota was working in the packing room. “Their whole crew walked in and I locked eyes with my now-wife,” he said. “It’s the craziest thing. I didn’t audibly hear God say, ‘That’s your wife,’ but something in my head clicked right then that she was the one I was going to marry.”
He spoke to Kiah for the first time a few weeks later when she returned to ATCOV for a preaching engagement for her boss. “Then after I graduated the program, I looked her up and we just started chit-chatting and we started dating a couple of months later. Two years down the line after that, we got married,” Dakota explained. The couple wed in October 2022.
Dakota today is much different than the man who came to the program in March 2019. “I have a lot more joy in my life now,” he said. “I know my life has a lot more meaning than I could have thought it had before. I wake up in the day and I’m happy…I have a relationship with the Lord and I know he loves me,” Dakota said.
ATCOV was the only facility that worked for him, partly because the longer program allowed his head to clear. “I basically tried everything but God,” Dakota said. “It’s crazy because I grew up in church too. I turned back to what I knew and haven’t looked back since. My life has been amazing ever since I went through that program.”