Client Testimony - Ryan Kennedy

I grew up in a loving family, and a great neighborhood in Aurora. I was raised in the church and was active in church youth activities, and other meetings that took place throughout the week. In school, I was a good athlete and a great student, but something was missing. Worry and fear were my constant companions from a very early age. At age 13, I was hit by a car and given opiates for a broken leg. When I took the opiates, the worry disappeared, sleep came immediately and I thought, “This is what normal people must feel like.” That “something” that was missing, that hole in my chest that always felt empty was finally filled, but the wholeness was so fleeting and so elusive. This is my story about my struggle with heroin and benzo addiction from my youth to my current age of 38.

I chased the feeling of calm and wholeness for 22 years. My quests went from Ohio to Michigan and then California, through college, good jobs and great times—and all the way to homelessness, jail, psych wards and ICU’s. My search for this feeling of normalcy caused me to give up absolutely everything. It poisoned every relationship, destroyed every opportunity. As the years passed by I fell lower and lower. It wasn’t as if I wanted to live this way. I tried every available option for help; AA, NA, suboxone, methadone, psych meds, counseling and behavioral therapy. I had some success by staying clean for a couple of times for a few years, but it was a minute by minute battle to stay clean every day. The fear, worry and pain were always there. The only thing that I had not wholeheartedly tried was a relationship with God. I was a lukewarm Christian. I believed enough to be scared of hell, but not enough to believe that He could help me.

In December of 2016, I contracted MRSA from a heroin injection. This led to endocarditis, multi-symptom organ failure and a coma. Open heart surgery and a new heart valve finally saved me. After months in the hospital and the nursing home for recovery, it still wasn’t enough for me to change my life. Apparently I hadn’t suffered enough. That’s the insanity of addiction! As soon as I got discharged from the nursing home, I picked up right where I had left off. The consequences of addiction and even possible death didn’t scare me anymore.

Despite my best efforts to avoid it, I ended up at New Destiny Treatment Center. Looking back, I now believe it was God’s plan for me to be here. I had been to other treatment programs, but I just skated through them. I didn’t want to do that again. I was nearing 40 and I had already lost so much of my life to this addiction, and I wasn’t willing to give it another 20 years.

During treatment I skipped Bible study two times, always giving a superficial excuse about why I couldn’t be there. Then, much to my surprise, I heard myself telling the group leader and a fellow client to not let me miss another meeting, no matter what excuse I had! They held me accountable and I began praying, reading the Bible, and engaging in Bible study on a regular basis. I had always had head knowledge of God, but it stopped at my neck. It never went deep enough to get to my heart.

Over time, with the help of God and many of the staff members, I began to change. Other people noticed it before I did. All I did was take one step towards God and He took three steps toward me. Eventually I realized how much better I felt and acted towards others. It was then that I totally surrendered to God for the first time. The worry, fear and desperation are a shadow of what they used to be, and that hole in my chest that I couldn’t fill for 20+ years is gone because of my relationship with God.

In the short time I have been studying God’s Word at New Destiny, I have found these important things to be true

  • · God has the power to free me from my addiction, and help me in so many other ways in my life. (Galatians 5:1 - It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.)
  • · God has a plan for my life better than I could imagine. (Ephesians 3: 20-21 - Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. )
  • · I have hope for the first time since I was a teenager. (Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.)

I’m so grateful that I graduated with more than just my sobriety. I also take with me a lasting, ever-growing relationship with God. I’m preparing to attend Stark State to major in counseling.