“I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”Isaiah 43:2
Andrew’s battle with addiction began when he was just 12 years old and became a coping mechanism for several difficult experiences throughout his life. But when he came to Denver Rescue Mission’s New Life Program at Harvest Farm, he was deeply grateful for the second chance he was given to overcome his addiction. This Easter season, know that your support gives those who come to the Mission for help, the same grace and forgiveness that Christ has given us.
Addiction Isn’t Who I Am
Andrew was 12 years old when he had his first sip of alcohol. What started as a sip turned into drinking every weekend, which led to experimenting with other drugs. Before he knew it, addiction became the center of his life.
For a long time, Andrew masked his struggles the only way he knew could instantly numb the pain he had felt from a young age. “[Alcohol] filled the void in my life and in my soul,” he said. “It killed the anxiety, killed the pain and the things that I didn’t want to walk through.”
As a child, Andrew grew up thinking life was good—until his father’s struggle with alcoholism ended his life when Andrew was just 15 years old. Andrew became angry at God and turned to drugs and alcohol to cope with his grief.
Eventually Andrew dropped out of high school, and after spending five years in a cycle of addiction, he joined the Army National Guard as well as became a firefighter. However, his desire to help others despite struggling himself didn’t replace his addiction; rather, it added to the trauma he already held deep inside. That trauma—becoming unbearable—led to an attempt on his life.
“On May 7, 2017, I tried to overdose,” Andrew said. “I was drinking that night too, and I woke up in a county jail but luckily, I was alive.”
Andrew spent the next few years living on the streets, sleeping in his car and going in and out of sober living facilities. In June 2020, he came to Colorado for recovery. Still, he was not finding the help he needed, so a year later, he came to Harvest Farm where his life truly began to change.
“This place is really giving me the chance to realize that I’m a good person and that addiction isn’t who I am,” he said. “It’s something that I’ve dealt with, but it’s not who I am.”
“That’s exactly how God has been working in my life.”
Hope For the First Time Since I Was 12
From day one at Harvest Farm the staff members—such as Peer Support Specialist, Dan Spencer and Case Manager, Rebecca Ogletree—have seen Andrew take transformative steps to attain a new life.
“Andrew has focus, steadfastness and persistence,” Dan said. “From the very beginning, you could tell that he was going to apply everything he learned to his life.”
A significant change in Andrew occurred when he was working in the kitchen for his work readiness. There, he discovered his passion for cooking, became a positive role model for other participants and worked through internal struggles. “The kitchen was the best thing that happened to me,” Andrew said. “You work hard, you get to help others and it helped me cope with things and deal with some anxiety.”
But in August 2021, Andrew witnessed a fellow participant get seriously injured in a bike accident, and triggering his PTSD, he decided to leave the program. Within about five days, Andrew knew he needed to go back to the Farm.
“[That second chance] meant the world to me,” Andrew said. “I’m going to complete this and work through the things I need to work through so that I don’t have to live that life anymore.”
“That second chance meant the world to me.”Andrew
Since reentering the program, Andrew has been baptized and is growing in his relationship with God, is working through his traumas in trauma therapy, encourages others as a chair at Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, is working to overcome his social anxiety, and so much more.
Rebecca has seen a complete shift in Andrew. “He discovered self-worth again,” she said. “The man I met when he first came was broken and hurting deeply, but now he has this brightness about him.”
Now, Andrew is in the transition phase of the program and looking forward to graduating in August. He wants to finish his education for a degree in criminal justice and eventually become a licensed drug and alcohol counselor.
“I have hope for the first time since I was 12 years old. And I truly mean that, from my heart and my soul, I have hope,” Andrew said. “If you utilize the resources here properly and actually put in the work, you’ll have a new life.”
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