Lisa was living in a homeless shelter when she was caught using drugs.
The operators of the facility offered to get her help and one of the women who worked there told her about Adult & Teen Challenge Ohio Valley.
“She said, and I’ll never forget this, she said, ‘It turned my life upside down,’” Lisa, 57, said.
She decided to try it.
Although she was homeless, Lisa was working as a teacher at the time. “I was just in a mess and didn’t know how to get out of it,” Lisa said.
She wasn’t initially enthusiastic about the program.
“I came in kicking and screaming,” Lisa said. “I complained about everything, everybody. I felt like this was a big punishment for me and I told people, ‘God has let me down. Why did God let me down so bad?’”
She realized that wasn’t the case and she’ll graduate in August 2023 from ATCOV’s year-long program.
“I realize after a year this wasn’t my punishment, It’s my reward,” Lisa said. “Teen Challenge has been a gift to me that I did not deserve to have.”
Lisa is from Cambridge, Ohio, and hopes to work with homeless people or people in need of recovery after she graduates from ATCOV. She’s looking forward to being reunited with her dog. The animal has been living with Lisa’s ex-husband.
Lisa’s addictions go back a long way, starting with food. She ballooned to 420 pounds. She underwent gastric bypass surgery and became addicted to pain medication.
She became a hard drug addict at 35. When her pain medication became too expensive, she began using methamphetamines.
“When I came into Teen Challenge, we had to fill out a questionnaire,” Lisa said. “They do an assessment. I remember them asking me, ‘What do you want from this program?’ I told them I want freedom.”
At that time, she believed that meant going to bed and eating her meals when she wanted.
“I didn’t realize I would have complete freedom when I got this addiction off my back,” Lisa said. “Now I’m completely free…I never would have done it without Teen Challenge.”
The faith-based quality was crucial. “I never could have done it without it being faith-based,” she said. Now God is Lisa’s best friend.
“He’s who I go to when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I need encouragement,” she said. “I’ve learned that I can’t depend on anyone else’s approval but God’s approval.”