Our 36th spotlight in the FACES OF HOPE: WE DO RECOVER series will focus on Justin Ponton’s story, “Walking in the Newness of Life.”
I was born in Martinsburg, WV and raised by a single mother who also struggled with alcoholism. Despite her alcoholism, she was still able to function and provide. My mother always worked long hours and did her best to raise me and my older sister, but with an absent father it was difficult for her to keep up with us. I always hung out with kids older than me and as a result at the age of 11 I first tried marijuana, alcohol, and had my first two recorded arrests. My story, more than anything else, was consumed with jails, prisons, and institutions. My heavy drug use didn’t start until the age of 21. The following years were mostly incarceration with short periods of supervised release and heavier drug use until my last release on parole. In June of 2012, I was released on parole to the custody of Rocky Meadows and Lifehouse. All I had to my name was the DOC clothes on my back, a garbage bag of mail, an unopened bar of soap, and a stick of used deodorant. Once in the program, I minimized my substance abuse issues and addiction to manipulate the program in hopes of an early release. As a direct result of my dishonesty, I had several relapses my first year that were unaccounted for and unaddressed. I eventually left the program and found myself completely strung out on heroin, living at the city mission, and still on parole.
DESCRIBE AHA MOMENT
My experience at the city mission forever changed me. I became the worst version of myself. A version that I never knew could exist. It was as if I had transformed into a dangerous diseased animal that preyed on anyone and everything. The last bit of hope I had was that my mother and the mother of my kids would still at least answer my phone calls. On August 7, 2013 they stopped answering. For the very first time I had no one so much as answer a phone call from me. Through some help and direction of another alcoholic and addict, I found my way into treatment. I began to work a program that utilized steps and led me to God.
DESCRIBE THE FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS WHILE IN ACTIVE ADDICTION
“Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity.” Pg. 62 BB
That passage from “Big Book Alcoholic Anonymous” describes me better ham I could describe myself.
WHAT IS THE DRIVING FORCE THAT KEEPS YOU GOING WHEN TIMES GET TOUGH?
I have a desire to honor God and the people He has placed in my life today. Coming from such a low and desperate state of being I love living a life second to none, only By The Grace Of God; I inventory my Blessings and put to rest any thoughts of being ungrateful.
WHAT OBSTACLES OR ROADBLOCKS HAVE YOU ENCOUNTERED ALONG YOUR RECOVERY JOURNEY?
Countless. I could spend all day talking about this. With sobriety comes responsibility. There will be days where it seems as if everything goes wrong, but we have a responsibility and an obligation to to the ones who loved us when we couldn’t love ourselves and also to the people we lead the way for. We have to push through situations and let God be God and do our part the best we can.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WANT PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER STRUGGLED WITH ADDICTION TO KNOW?
Personally, I understand their frustration and believe their negative views and opinions are merited-based on the example we displayed before recovery. I would just suggest having an open mind and get to know a person in recovery to form a better educated opinion.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR FAMILY MEMBERS OF A PERSON IN ACTIVE ADDICTION?
Love them enough to allow them an opportunity to grow. In my own personal recovery, I needed my loved ones to let me go so I could mature and come to God. Point them in the direction of someone better equipped and experienced to help them and nurture them into a better way of life.
I believe that the drugs and alcohol are but a symptom… that the underlying issue is a poor and negative way of thinking that reflects in our views and opinions of ourselves. For years, society has labeled us as everything and anything that reflects the exact opposite of the truth. The truth is, we were predestined and designed for Greatness! We are meant to have Life and have it more Abundantly! We become open and receptive to The Word of God and His Truth, rather than the opinions formed of us based on our past. We walk in a Newness of Life!
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please call Addiction Recovery Care at 606.638.0938 or visit them on the web at www.arccenters.com.
Justin is the Founder and Executive Director of Newness of Life, located in Huntington, WV. Newness of Life is a therapeutic, peer supported, accountable community designed to focus primarily on sobriety, along with establishing a better quality of life. You can contact his organization on the web at www.newness-of-life.org or by calling 304.939.5422.
There is hope. There is help