Annie, 31, started using alcohol and smoking cigarettes when she was seven. She suffered sexual, mental and physical abuse and was surrounded by adults who abused substances. She moved on to heroin, methamphetamines and PCP. Annie never had a relationship with Jesus Christ. It wasn’t part of her family’s way of life.
Annie’s addiction led to prostitution and more abuse—anything to get a fix. She had four children but no relationship with any of them. She tried rehab seven times, but it never worked for her. Most of her family either died from overdoses. The rest walked out of her life. Finally in October 2019, Annie was arrested in Lake Milton, Ohio, charged with multiple drug offenses. While in jail, she found Jesus. “When I went to court, I asked the judge to help me get my life together,” Annie said.
The judge directed her to Adult and Teen Challenge Ohio Valley and its Esther House Women’s Facility. That’s when things turned around. While in jail she began her relationship with God, but ATCOV nurtured and strengthened that bond. “In jail I found joy in the Lord, but I wasn’t being guided,” Annie explained. “You have to grow your relationship. It’s like a muscle. By exercising your faith, it gets stronger.” While at Esther House, she learned how to pray and how to read the Bible. It’s intensified her relationship with Jesus. And she’s sober.
What makes ATCOV different is the Jesus Factor. “I never would have been able to do it myself with my own strength,” Annie says. After using drugs and alcohol for so many years, Annie saw that life as her safe place. But God met her where she was and opened her eyes. She walked with him, with guidance from center staff, into her new life.
Now, Annie has reestablished her connection with her children and her father. Everything in her life is better. Family members are growing in their relationships with God too. She’ll graduate from ATCOV June 10 and plans to stay on as an intern. She wants to do for others what the people at ATCOV did for her. “I want to help people,” Annie said. “I love people. I have unspeakable joy.” Working as an intern will also keep Annie accountable and keep her connected to people who can guide her both in her spirituality and in her sobriety. That’s not to say it was easy.
ATCOV’s program is 12 to 14 months and combines addiction rehabilitation with Bible classes, work experience and daily chapel services. It’s about the whole person, focusing on mind, body and spirit. ATCOV’s aim is rebuilding lives, restoring families and reclaiming our community. “I have been completely restored,” Annie said.