52 Addicts Recap #2

Martinsburg, WV Heroin Epidemic

It’s time for another recap of the 52Addicts Project! I’m still receiving so many positive messages from clients, friends and random strangers about this project which fill my heart with so much joy. So, thank you!!! If you are new here, check out this post to catch up on the project. To see the last recap, check out this post.

Here are the latest stories for those of you not on Instagram. To get these stories as soon as they are published, follow along on our Instagram page here!

 

Dora’s heart is filled with the Spirit of Christ, and she sings beautiful songs to praise Him for all He has given to her. Her voice is so sweet and kind, so it is amazing to hear her talk about the anguish that she has been through. What started as an addiction to prescription painkillers when she was younger, gradually became a need for heroin so strong that she had forsaken all others to get through the day, even her own daughter. At one point her mother had sent her to rehab, but when she got out she went right back to her addiction. She went on like this for years, and has so many stories of torment that she put herself through, along with her family. One night she decided that she had enough. She walked to her mother’s house through the snow and in an emotional breakdown told her mom that she needed help that night or she would surely die. Her loving mother took her in open arms and found a place for her to detox, and then she went on to a rehab to soak in the lessons and self-awareness that would carry her through to this day. Today, she is a shining testimonial to the healing power of God, and walks hand in hand with her daughter in a much more peaceful path through life. Follow along on my journey this year to meet 52 people who have struggled with opioid addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share!

A photo posted by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

Check out this gorgeous family! Not only are they total model material, but the hearts of these parents are also filled with beauty and a desire to help others. This attitude will certainly translate to their 4 beautiful children as they grow older and see what a difference their Mommy & Daddy are making in not only their community, but in so many communities across West Virginia. Justin was addicted to heroin, and even admits to becoming a substantial dealer here in Berkeley County to support his own habit. This led to a raid of his home and an inevitable arrest and incarceration. He was one of the lucky ones that didn’t go back to the streets after incarceration, and instead went to rehab which saved his life. His success eventually landed him the title of Program Director of The Lifehouse, a Christian-based recovery program in Huntington, WV. He and his wife Bridgette have now opened their own recovery house in Huntington devoted to pulling other addicts out of their hell and showing them how to beat this demon. Justin has organized several events to spread awareness about our epidemic. This picture was taken at the Stomp Out Addiction & Praise-Fest at War Memorial Park on Mother’s Day. So many people came out to hear great music, listen to powerful stories of recovery and fellowship with their community. Even the Sheriff Deputy that arrested Justin came out to support him. Look out for more great events to support this awesome family and their initiative to “Stomp Out Addiction”! Follow along on my journey this year to meet 52 people who have struggled with opioid addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52addicts #MartinsburgWV

A photo posted by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

Join me in congratulating Greg on his new journey of recovery after a long battle with addiction. Greg comes from a great family, yet he fell on the path to drugs early in his teenage years. One thing led to another, and before long he was hooked on heroin here in Berkeley County. Eventually, he was given the chance to join a program in Huntington, WV to get clean and start his new life. He is one of the success stories of the recovery program started by the last #52Addicts participant I featured here, Justin Ponton. Greg is loving his new life of sobriety and the new friendships he has made over these last few months. He is shown here volunteering his time cooking for all the people who came out to the Stomp Out Addiction event at War Memorial Park in Martinsburg on Mother’s Day. Let’s give him encouragement to continue on his path to success! Follow along on my journey this year to meet 52 people who have struggled with opioid addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share!

A photo posted by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

I’m so excited to start sharing more stories of hope and recovery through my #52Addicts project! This strong, beautiful woman is Verdell at her birthday party in May. She is surrounded by the family that was instrumental in helping her get through her addiction. Many years ago, she went through a long period of time where her only goal in life was finding her next high. She knew she needed help, but could never quite get over her addiction on her own. Her family never gave up hope on her. They loved her and kept loving her until eventually one day they were able to break through and get her to try rehab again. This time it worked, and she found a new life and a new appreciation for her wonderful family. She has been drug-free for three decades and lives each day as a testimony to God’s love for us all. Follow along on my weekly journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with opioid addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts #MartinsburgWV #HeroinCrisis #EndTheStigma

A photo posted by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

I’ve looked up to Mark ever since high school over 20 years ago (damn we’re old!). Over the years we became pretty tight and for a long time he was my #1 BFF. We’ve kept in touch through countless moves, relationships, as well as his military deployment in the Army. Eventually he became the first person around my age whom I realized had a serious addiction problem. His addiction is not to opiates, but to alcohol. He has been on one hell of a roller coaster ride through life. When Mark is doing well he always excels quickly in his careers to management positions and his relationships are solid. But when he is drinking, it’s a slippery slope down to complete rock bottom. Divorces, lost jobs, and prolonged bouts of homelessness (living in tents behind shopping centers) became his normal life. He ended up living with a prostitute and her boyfriend (both active heroin addicts) at the infamous Economy Inn on Winchester Ave. One night after drinking a liter of bourbon while they were gone, he broke into their stash of heroin and ended up dying… Luckily, they came back and called 911. Mark was revived with Narcan, and after a little while of soul searching he walked to the VA Center and begged them for help. He has learned that he needs to work the program hard in order to keep his sobriety. He has done so well that he now has 3 jobs, one of which is working for the VA as a federal employee. He chairs AA meetings at the VA Center and is committed to a life of service work. As a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division who was willing to put his life on the line for each of us, I think he more than deserved the second chance that Narcan and the awesome team of EMTs we have in Berkeley County gave him that night. So to the sad people who made those ugly comments on the local police and fire FB pages that night about how the “junkie should be left to die”, what have you done for our country and our community that gives you the right to wish death upon a vet willing to risk his life for yours? 🌟🌟🌟 Follow along on my journey this year to meet 52 people who have struggled with addiction. #52addicts

A photo posted by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

Stepfhanie’s beautiful soul radiates love and joy each time I see her. She has a grateful, kind spirit and I am so blessed to now call her a friend. Her story with heroin started as a teenager who left home while still in high school. Crashing with friends, she fell into the partying scene and before long she had migrated to heroin use. Her days began repeating themselves with the desperate struggle of getting high. A few years went by before she met a guy who saved her life. He offered her a once in a lifetime trip across the country to remove herself from this area and the life she was living, and she took it. Eleven years later, she is now a talented artist, musician, teacher and mother to two equally beautiful little souls. Follow along on my journey to meet 52 people who have struggled with addiction. These are our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, nurses, teachers, military members, business owners and more. Let’s end the stigma of addiction, so we can move forward with a plan to make positive changes in our community. Visit the link in our profile for more info on this project, and please share! #52Addicts

A photo posted by Lori Swadley (@swadleystudio) on

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