John’s Story: Hope in the Face of a Drug Epidemic

November 28th, 2014 | By Brittany Meadows | Posted in Blog

Our country is experiencing a drug epidemic.  100 people die a day from drug overdoses.  Heroin is taking out entire cities. People are becoming hopelessly addicted to painkillers.  Meth labs are everywhere.

But all is not lost. There is hope.  There is healing.  Today we are sharing with you a story of one of our friends, John Small.

John’s story is one of destruction and devastation but also hope and inspiration.  This may mirror your life. This may mirror the life of your loved one.  We want you to know that addiction can be treated and a fulfilling life can be had.  John is proof. Read on.


How many years sober are you?

Since September 1979. I’m 35 years sober.

How old were you when you started drinking or doing drugs?  What was your drug or drink of choice?

I grew up in a house of alcoholics. I didn’t get a childhood because I had to be an adult. I couldn’t stray too far from home because I needed to be around in case my family started fighting.

I remember playing with friends one day when I heard that there was a fight going on at my house. I ran as fast as I could about a half of a mile home. My mom had broken a bottle and was trying to stab my dad. I always had to break up the fights so no one would kill each other. Of course, I made the decision to never drink.

I was wrong.

At age 14 I started smoking marijuana. I graduated to drinking hard liquor, like Jack Daniels, and chasing it with malt liquor. That’s when I started taking all kinds of hallucinogens. That led to shooting heroin, cocaine, acid. I was doing crystal speed, hashish, I grew my own marijuana. I wasn’t staying away from anything, but if I was going to do it, I was going to do the real stuff.

What was your pattern?

I was always high. I was doing all kinds of hallucinogens. Shooting heroine. Speed balling and going out thinking I was God’s gift to women. I enjoyed getting high – when I wasn’t high, it wasn’t normal. I got to the point I didn’t think I could drive a car without being high. I’d be speeding acid for a week at a time. I’d get to the point where I didn’t even have strength to ask for water.

I saw people all around me dying and going to jail.

Where did you get the drugs? How did you pay for them?

I was hanging out with thugs and gangs. We’d break into houses in the morning and buy our dope in the afternoon.

How was your family affected by this disease?

After I met my wife, I got her to start smoking weed. She didn’t really want to try anything else. I got my mom to start smoking it, too. That’s a big regret. I regret a lot of things in this life, and that’s definitely up there with the worst regrets.

What was your your turning point?

It was September 1979. I went to church with my wife – just to shut her up. I knew I wasn’t going to be going there every Sunday and on Wednesday nights and doing the whole thing. I just was going to go that one time because she was really getting on my nerves about it.

Everything that man said at the altar was me. It was like he had opened up the book of John Small and knew exactly who I was. I was sitting in my seat squirming. The Lord spoke to me so loud I looked around to see if anyone else had heard Him. I was the only one. He told me to either accept him that night, or He would open the gates of Hell for me. I ran to the altar, and I was saved. A few months later, in January 1980, I was called to preach.

Do you still struggle with addiction? Think about using?

I don’t struggle with it. God spared me for a purpose.

What would you tell someone about treatment to inspire them to go?

Life is short. We’re only here a certain period of time. Our purpose is not to be bended, beat down and broken by drugs and alcohol. We all have dreams. Your dream is your purpose.

What else do you want to say?

Stop fooling yourself into thinking you’re there for your family just because you’re physically there. You’re not there. When you’re addicted it’s all about the drugs. It’s all about the alcohol. It’s all about you.

Your wife, your husband, your kids – whoever it is – deserve the whole you. They deserve the whole person, not a fragmented person.